AJ Wiliams, Adding Spice to Life
Top Ten Guest Post for Shadows on Snow by Starla Huchton
Top Ten Fairy Tales You Would Like To Do a Retelling of Someday and Why?
Retelling fairy tales wasn’t ever something I thought I’d tackle as a writer, but I’ve learned over the years never to say never to anything. When I hit on the idea of gender flipping these stories that have been told and retold so many times, however, it was just too juicy an idea to pass up. In writing Shadows on Snow, while I’d intended it to be a one-off experiment, I actually ended up sprinkling in potential for other books in line with this one. Shadows on Snow IS a standalone and a self-contained story with no cliffhangers, but I have a few plans for the future, so I’ll share some of those with you, plus a few that fascinate me by themselves. As a general rule, fairy tales aren’t big on character and world-building, so these foundations provide ample fodder for expansion into something much larger.
10. Beauty and the Beast - one of my favorite sequences from any Disney movie are the stained glass backstory scenes from Beauty and the Beast. For purely aesthetic reasons, it’s gorgeous to watch that part. I also love the theme of the story in general: one person’s kindness unlocking the same in another person who’s hardened their heart. This is one I have plans for in the future, but it’s a ways off yet.
9. Ivan and the Firebird - Russian fairy tales have a very different feel to them than European ones. Things or people die and there’s rarely any expression of remorse or sadness or regret ever expressed, and not really even any mention of love. This story is exactly that, but it’s always irritated me because the main character, Ivan, does a string of really stupid things, consistently doing the exact opposite of what he’s been told, and is CONTINUOUSLY bailed out. Continuously. It’s super annoying, and I’d love to take a crack at it to give the main character half a brain, but, as of this second, it’s not on my to-do list.
8. Jack and the Beanstalk - This is a story everyone and their dog knows, and it’s pretty straightforward. Poor boy messes up, poor boy lucks into something, a bit of an adventure ensues, and he lives happily ever after. I feel like stories like these are sort of missing for girls sometimes. Sure, they exist, but not in the abundant way they’re out there for boys. That said, I couldn’t pass up my chance to rewrite this one. It’s currently the one I’m working on at present.
7. The Enchanted Bottle - I have mixed feelings about this Irish folk tale. On the one hand, I love the potential for imagery it presents, but I’ve got a hard time feeling bad for the family that squanders their gifts. I have to believe that they learn their lesson in the end, however, because they use a bit of cleverness and get their happily ever after. I don’t have plans for this one right now, but if I ever did, I’ve got a lovely photo I took for a college project a few years ago that I’d love to use.
6. Little Red Riding Hood - Oh goodness. How much fun would this be to gender flip? I love the idea of this one, so it’s definitely on my to-do list, though not for a little while yet. However, this wouldn’t be a werewolf spin, and anyone who’s read Shadows on Snow might get a tiny hint about where the story springs from.
5. Cinderella - To be fair, a lot of my stories will have a “Cinderella” moment. This isn’t really intentional, but something I’ve recently realized carries through much of my writing. I think it’s mostly that I love the idea of being able to show a person’s beauty inside reflected by what’s on the outside. Humans are very superficial creatures, and the ability to circumvent that in fiction is really hard to pass up.
4. Fairy Gifts - Of all the morals taught in fairy tales and fables, I love this one dearly. Above all, it shows that being content with yourself is a greater gift than nearly any other in the world. Humility and acceptance are hard things to acquire and hold on to, but are often the most rewarding of any trait a person can possess.
3. Sleeping Beauty - You want to talk about dark? Wow. Go look up the original versions of this story and it’s quite eye-opening, and DEFINITELY not the tame tale that Disney put before us. Jealousy, obsession, imprisonment, rape, cannibalism… this one’s got it all. You’d better believe this one’s on my radar in a BIG way, but not until I find exactly the right angle to approach from.
2. The Clever Little Tailor - Smart characters are the ones I fall in love with the fastest. I will always reward my children (real and fictional alike) for using their wits, but I don’t hesitate to take them down a peg for getting too big for their britches. This story has huge potential for doing exactly that, so it’s on my list as well.
1. East of the Sun, West of the Moon - Much like Orpheus’s tale of woe when it comes to love, this one has a similar theme of the tragedy that can befall you when you doubt the person you love more than anyone else in the world. But, unlike that myth, East of the Sun, West of the Moon offers a chance to make up for mistakes made. This is interesting to me, as it’s already about a girl on a quest to save a prince (as you don’t find that terribly often), so I’ll basically be reverting this one to the more standard “boy saves girl” trope. So while I originally set out to turn the tables on these standards, in falling in love with this story (and, yes, it’s definitely on the list), I’d be remiss if I neglected to carry through on my gender-flipping mission with this one. Equality in all things, I say, so it, too, will have its day under my pen.
There are endless possibilities with fairy tales, but some of them are just a tiny bit juicier than others when it comes to retellings. I’d love to know what other folks would like to see, as I’m sure everyone has their favorites.