Seems the fairy tale goodies never end... (and really, why should they?)
Back in Fairy Tale Fortnight, I had a guest post from Megan Engelhardt, one of the authors of Wolves & Witches, a set of fairy tale retellings recently released by World Weaver Press. (You can find her piece, "Snow Day Stories" here.)
Today, I'm back with some more fairy tale lovin' from World Weaver Press - this time, from Kate Wolford, editor of Beyond the Glass Slipper, a collection that looks at ten lesser-known fairy tales, curated and annotated by Wolford. Kate is chatting with us about some of the...unlikely inspiration she found in non-fairy tale television, while pulling together this collection.
Take it away, Kate!
Getting any writing project done is mostly about hard work, but inspiration does play a role. I pull ideas and enthusiasm from books, of course. Yet music and television play a major role in my creative process as well.
Three television shows that inspired me while I was writing Beyond the Glass Slipper are in my mind as I write this post. Dexter,Breaking Bad and Lewis are not at all about fairy tales, but each has, in its own way, a dark, dream-like quality that puts me in mind of terrifying forests or horrible witches or dank, dark caverns filled with treasure or doom. In the case of all three, I "binge" watched them while writing BTGS.
Dexter is the Showtime series about a vigilante serial killer, Dexter (Michael C. Hall), who uses his considerable skills as a blood analyst to track down evil doers who have evaded justice. Then he kills them, rather efficiently, and disposes of them in the sea.
The show is far past its heyday, but obsessively watching Dexter's early seasons kept me focused on the importance of keeping words and ideas moving, and it reminded me that atmosphere matters, even though what I was writing was non-fiction. The show is always focused on loneliness and confusion, and watching it helped me probe character motivation when I was analyzing the fairy tales in BTSG. Plus, when it literally comes to voice, Michael C. Hall has the most beautiful one I have ever laid ears on. Just hearing him narrate an episode is listening to a kind of magic.
Next, you might be wondering, "How could a show about a meth cook in New Mexico inspire anything?" AMC's Breaking Bad isn't for everyone. It's violent and ugly and there are no real heroes. Drug use is very much not glamorized in the series. But the protagonist, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), is a kind of mad sorcerer. His dark magic with chemistry plunges him into twisty stories that make the watcher feel as confused as Hansel and Gretel on the all-important third morning in the forest.
Walter White was once an almost-lovable schlubby high-school chemistry hero. The series will end this summer, and I'm just waiting for him to get his comeuppance. Walter is like Bluebeard (without the many wives). He's a very bad man, but you can't look away.
Lewis is not in the same league as Dexter and Breaking Bad, both of which, at their peak, were superbly well-executed series. But it's so very beautiful. Set in Oxford, England, it really does seem too beautiful a place for anything bad, or even real, to happen. Yet, horrible murders take place there on a distressingly regular basis. Our two heroes, Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) and James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) are lonely, smart, determined policemen who nab their killer every time, even though they may wish they didn't have to.
The City of Oxford is like some deceptively gorgeous kingdom in a fairy tale. Beneath the charm and sophistication lurk the very worst sorts of crime. I'd watch an episode of Lewis (which had now probably ended as a series), and think: I want to be good at what I do, just like Lewis and Hathaway. I want to solve the puzzle of how to explain the fairy tale.And after all, in every fairy tale, isn't there some sort of crime?