First up we have Jo of Once Upon a Bookcase, followed by Emilee of Penultimate Page. Be sure to stop by their lovely blogs and see what I said to them!
Jo, Emilee and I broke things up into three sections: standard fairy tale questions, serious ones that get at the heart of things, and then the silly absurd ones that I adore. Enjoy!
Favorite fairy tale and why?
A: I have to say, pretty much all the fairy tales I know well are the Disney versions. I wasn’t much of a reader as a child, and I didn’t really have bedtime stories, so my knowledge is mainly all based on Disney movies. The Little Mermaid has always been my favourite because, like me, Ariel is a red head! And a mermaid, with all those fish, and that singing! My love for The Little Mermaid did eventually bring me to read the original by Hans Christian Anderson. I was so moved by it; the suffering she went through in human form, and not ending up with the happy ending we all know, but the hope of an eventual happy ending – I don’t want to go into it in case I spoil it for someone. Read it! It’s such a beautiful story, and it really touched me.
However, Beauty and the Beast is also a favourite, because of the library the Beast gives to Belle in the movie. It’s GORGEOUS!
Least favorite? Why?
A: Apparently, as a child, I didn’t like Three Billy Goats Gruff because the troll scared me – or so says my Mum. I remember not liking Sleeping Beauty all that much. The little goblins were horrible, I didn’t like the sound made by the witch-as-dragon when she snapped her teeth, and I generally thought it was kind of boring. But I wouldn’t mind watching it now. There aren’t really any I dislike. Oh, Goldilocks and the Three Bears is too repetitive for my liking.
Why do you like retold fairy tales, fractured fairy tales, etc., and which tale would you like to see adapted to full-length?
A: I like the idea that a story I read as a child can be modernised and updated, made into a story I could enjoy and relate to as an adult. For example, I would love to read Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, which is modern, updated retelling of Beauty and the Beast, about a boy with hooks for hands. It sounds awesome!
It would be awesome to read an adapted version of The Little Mermaid. I’m a sucker for that book!
Many fairy tales have much darker origins than Disnified viewers realize: the queen wants to eat Snow White's heart, the wolf intends to rape and eat Little Red, etc. What do you make of the fact that these tales are so popular still, and that a lot of retellings and adaptations dive back into these darker roots?
A: I think these stories are still so popular because the very heart of these fairy tales are good children’s stories; what little girl doesn’t want to be a princess? What child isn’t fascinated with the thought of magic? The stories are adventures the children can live in their imaginations. I could be wrong, but basing this on my own childhood and that of cousins, I assume the fairy tales actually told to children are the modified, not as scary of graphic versions, and the Disney movies. The children get exciting stories, and the parents aren’t up half the night with their children because of nightmares.
I think the darker stories are more popular with older people, be it teenagers or adults. Why? Because we’ve lived life, we know the world isn’t a perfect, magical place, and so nice fairy tales just won’t cut it. The darker ones are more realistic, more like the world we know, more believable. For an older audience, books based on the darker stories make better stories, as we know happy endings don’t always happen.
How do you feel about women's roles in fairy tales? It seems that the only way a woman can be strong in a fairy tale is if she is the villain (evil queen, cannibalistic witch, etc). Are there any notable exceptions for you?
A: I think it really all depends on how you define “strong”. Cinderella could be considered strong; she put up with a horrible stepmother and step sisters, and all the work she had to do. She didn’t have any way out at first, no, but she didn’t complain, or whine. She did what she had to. If you wanted to update this slightly, or make it darker, a way out would be suicide – which is not unheard of in fairy tales - but that would be cutting out the rest of the story. I think, dealing with what she had to deal with, Cinderella was strong.
However, the only women with real power that weren’t evil are the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and the fairies in Sleeping Beauty. They were flawed themselves though; the Fairy Godmother’s spell would only last until Midnight, and one of the fairies can’t reverse the wicked fairy’s spell where the princess would die, but change it slightly so that she sleeps instead of dies. Not great outcomes in either story.
I don’t have a real problem with the way women are portrayed in fairy tales when you consider the fact that these stories are centuries old; women weren’t equal to men back then, so of course it would be the men who did the rescuing, the women who needed rescuing, and women who took power onto themselves and went above their station who were evil. Women aren’t portrayed in the greatest light, but it’s fact that this is how we were seen back then, the position we had, so for the time, they weren’t being purposefully degrading or insulting, they were just reflecting life.
Fairy tales are often thought of as romantic, even though there is never really much courtship, there's almost always lying and spells involved when it's a new relationship, and if it's an old one, normally one party ends up dead or evil. Why do you think fairy tales have a reputation for romance, and are there any good examples of romance or love in the stories?
A: I think the romance is all based on the “they lived happily ever after”. Take Cinderella for example; not really any courtship there, but her prince took her away from a hard life into what would be luxurious for her – I can’t imagine that being seen in any other way than romantic.
As for examples of love, I think the original The Little Mermaid has a great example of love; if readers don’t want to accept that she loved him when she first saw him, they can accept that she grew to love him in the time she spent with him; she spent quite a while will him in human form, and went through a huge deal just to be near him. Not ideal, sure, but she did love him.
But going back to my previous answer, courtship didn’t always happen when the stories came about. In the 19th Century, women married once a suitable match was found once they were old enough to marry, and it was less about love and romance and more about making sure the woman didn’t end up in a poor house as she wouldn’t inherit any property – it went straight to the husband. If a woman didn’t find a good match, she would end up with nothing. Love and romance weren’t really on their minds at the time, and so for the time, the lack of actual romance and love as we know it isn’t all that out of the ordinary. I’m not a history geek, I swear, I just did a Fiction and History class at uni last year :)
If you could have any of the following, which would you choose?
a. a goose that lays golden eggs
b. magic beans
c. a talking cat who defeats ogres
d. a chain metal shirt or cloak which makes you invisible
A: Right now, I could probably do with a goose that lays golden eggs. The money is tight! But I think I would want a cloak to make me invisible. Sometimes, it would be pretty good just to be invisible. Would be great to avoid people!
Referring to your chosen item in the question above, would you still choose it if it came with a curse? (ie, the golden eggs smell like the world's worst rotten eggs; the magic beans only lead to your least favorite place on earth, no matter where you plant them; the talking cat lets you take the credit, but is really passive aggressive; the chain metal/cloak keeps you invisible but makes you break out in a rash)
A: Ahh! Well, it’s a good job I don’t want to avoid people all that often! I think I can take a rash though. I’ll just bear in mind to keep some cream with me when I use it!
Worst way to go: crushed by a falling giant or baked in an oven by the children you'd intended to have for lunch?
A: Crushed by a falling giant. At least that way, it would be over pretty quickly. I think baking would take quite a long while, and would hurt a lot. Instant death would be better, I think.
Would you rather:
-- be a hideous beast waiting for someone to see through it and love you, or be paralyzed and thought dead while random men kiss you, always waiting for a good one to come along?
A: Hideous beast please! I do not like the idea of being kissed against my will, even if it is to save (mouth to mouth resuscitation is different, and would happily accept that). Plus, you know, I’d actually get to do stuff as a beast, where I can’t do anything when I’m paralysed. How would I read?!
-- be the fairest of them all but a total dimwit, or be absolutely brilliant, but the hideous beast from above?
A: Hideous beast again, please! I’d much rather be able to have conversations with people than be completely clueless most of the time. I’m not that vain, I don’t mind looking a little hideous :)
-- eat refried magic beans or scrambled golden eggs?
A: I’m not a fan of eggs. I know it’s perfectly safe to eat gold leaf, so I think it would be safer to try the scrambled golden eggs. Who knows what the magic beans would do to your system? I don’t think I’d like a beanstalk growing out of my throat.
Rapunzel was named after a food (lettuce); what would your name be if you were named after a food, and why?
A: I had a friend who used to call me chicken pie, but I’d rather not have that as my name. One of the names I’ve always considered if I were to have a daughter is Honey, so I think I’ll go for that! I think it’s pretty.
Goldilocks broke into the Three Bears’ house. Why did she break in in the first place?
A: Because she was homeless. She did it every so often, breaking into people’s houses when she could, just for a bit of food and to get out of the cold. Admittedly you would have thought she would scoff down the closest bowl of porridge rather if she was that hungry, but living on the streets, she’s not really used to choice. She had the choice to eat something she liked, so why not? At least she could enjoy it. Same with the bed; if she can sleep comfy for a little while, why not? She has dirty floors to deal with most of the time, so she chose to go for the comfiest bed. The girl’s just trying to survive the way only way she knows how.
If your life were to be a fairy tale, what would you want to happen next?
A: A very famous, very rich and very beautiful guy would enter my life somehow – preferably Jackson Rathbone. The car he’s been driven about in for an audition would break down in my street, and he would desperately need to use a phone, because his mobile battery has died. He’d knock on my door, and being the nice girl I am (and absolutely gobsmacked that, OMG, it’s Jackson Rathbone!), I’d let him use my phone to call for an alternative transportation. He’d want to take me out a few days later to say thank you, because he got the acting role he wanted but he wouldn’t have without me. We’d fall in love, I’d move to America, and I wouldn’t have to worry about being skint for Christmas and not being able to buy anyone presents. And, of course, we would live happily ever after. The end.
Yeah, I have an over active imagination :P
In Rumpelstiltskin, the King is told the daughter of a miller can spin straw into gold. What magical talent would you like to have?
A: Is this any sort of magical talent? I’d like some sort of healing talent. Stop people from being ill, or feeling down. Just a happy-making, health-improving magical talent. I hate seeing people down.
If we’re talking fairy tale type magical talent, I want to be a Fairy Godmother! Then I can make things good for people! Make them happy in a different way!
Now, here's Emilee:
Thanks for your great answers, ladies!
Enjoy the rest of fairy tale week, everybody!!!