Katina French is a wonderful writer and a funny funny lady (only when she means to be, of course). I love her great big bunches! She relatively recently discovered the bliss of writing Steampunk reimaginings of fairy tales. I asked her to write about that, and here’s what she said:
Twisting Fairy Tales for a New Audience
by Katina French
I was big into adventures as a kid. After watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, I went digging for artefacts in my back yard (didn’t find any.) After watching Star Wars, I got cross-eyed staring at objects and trying to move them with the Force (not much better luck there.)
Adventure tales, and fairy tales, are both stories about a journey. A character starts out either a prince or a pauper. The funny thing is, both princesses and paupers have very limited worlds. The prince never gets to leave the castle. The farm boy has never seen anything beyond his small village.
So fairy tales are about expanding your world.
There’s also usually a villain or a monster. The wicked witch with cannibalistic tendencies. The hungry and devious wolf. Unpredictable, easily-offended fairies with vindictive enchantments and a mean sense of humor.
So fairy tales are a warning–that outside world can be dangerous.
There’s almost always a treasure or reward. Sometimes the reward is “you get to live.” Sometimes the reward is “you get a wildly attractive and wealthy spouse.” Sometimes the reward is a cave full of gold and treasure.
So fairy tales are about following your dreams.
There are so many things that get conveyed in classic fairy tales. What strikes me most is that these things are timeless. Children will always have to grow up and leave the nest. The world will always be a dangerous and intimidating place. We’re always enriched by taking risks and expanding our world, even if there are often costs as well.
I think people retell fairy tales because of that timelessness. Because the themes and journeys are the same, even when the landscape and characters look wildly different. We have a dozen different versions of Snow White floating around the mediaverse right now, and you know what? That’s okay. I think there can be as many Snow Whites as there are snow flakes, each one unique in some way, but each one made of the same basic stuff.
I didn’t rewrite “The Snow Queen” because I thought Hans Christian Anderson didn’t do a good job. I rewrote it because his version spoke to me. It felt like a story that would still hold together even if the characters were a different age, in a different place, with different problems.
The best fairy tales are made of good, solid story materials. That means they’re durable, like really good yarn. The truth in those stories is something you can take apart, and remake it into something a little different. It can be different, but still beautiful, still truthful.
How the new piece holds up sort of depends on your craftsmanship.
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You can buy ONCE UPON A CLOCKWORK TALE here:
You can read more about Kat at her website, Katina French.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Retell a fairy tale or folk tale or family story in another place and/or time.