Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Geography of the Future in Beyond Fate, By Amalia Dillon (And a Giveaway!)

Editor's note: Amalia's Fate of the Gods series is different from what is usually promoted here on EC, but since it's being published by World Weaver Press, I thought readers would enjoy learning about Amalia's third book in the series. WWP is doing a giveaway of four of her books. Look above to see more about entering.

So much of Fate of the Gods takes place in the past, drawing from historical events and myths, but Beyond Fate gave me the unique and really fun opportunity to predict the landscape of the future. And not just what kind of Jetson’s tech was available for Eve’s apartment (who can resist the lure of the irising door?), but the political and geographical landscape, two hundred years from now.

There are a number of factors which contributed to my major remodel of the Western nations we know and love, but the most important was the shift in climate. When the deserts are expanding and swallowing up the formerly rich farmlands, and farming methods reveal themselves as less than sustainable in a world where more than just one town, county, state, or country depends upon the food being grown in a region, it only made sense that some nations might shatter, and others rise. And as the climate shifts and the North warms (which we’ve already begun to see), previously frozen or inaccessible land will become all the more valuable. Which means that countries like Canada and the Scandinavia nations are likely to become incredibly powerful and wealthy.

I decided to keep a lot of the same major players we know today – Russia, for instance, didn’t go anywhere. India and China are alive and well in the East, even if their borders wouldn’t be recognizable to us today. But I made two big changes to the landscape of the West. First, I divided the United States into three new nations: The United East (primarily consisting of the East Coast, but also stretching into the Great Lakes), The Free West (the West Coast and Pacific Northwest, likely including Colorado), and The Republic of Texas (what’s left of the south and Midwest). And second, I united Scandinavia and Canada and renamed them The North Country, or, to those living outside their greatest of nations, The Scandinavian Union and Canadian North.

Since Scandinavia today already maintains a loose union of reciprocity for member nations, it seemed probable to me that those ties would only strengthen, and as for uniting with Canada... well, I won’t pretend that there aren’t other forces at work. Forces which may or may not be named Adam.

And if you want to learn how and why, and just what Adam is up to in the future, Beyond Fate is ready and waiting to answer your questions!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Tree Hugger, By Heidi Garrett

I appreciate the opportunity to join in the Enchanted Conversation. Both Kate Wolford’s blog and her book, Beyond the Glass Slipper, are invaluable resources for the fairy tale aficionado, as well as for those who are simply curious about the enduring and universal appeal of fairy tale. (Editor's note: Thanks Heidi!) I’m especially delighted to be here introducing The Tree Hugger. Set in the future, it’s a dystopian retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Dryad.” In the original tale, a country dryad longs to visit the great city of Paris. No harm in that. There are attractions and flirtations along the way but no love relationship to speak of, and it doesn’t have a happy ending. I protest on both counts and altered the tale accordingly.

In The Tree Hugger, the love relationship between Magnolia and Graham is born of friendship and companionability. In spite of Magnolia’s silent and solitary nature, Graham intuitively grasps and responds to her personality and needs. As time goes on, the roots of their caring for one another extend deep into the earth itself. They truly become a partnership of equals, one of the happiest endings I can think of.

Another popular fairy tale element played with in The Tree Hugger is the loss of the mother. While Magnolia’s mother hasn’t died, she’s absent from her daughter’s life. It’s grandmother who steps in to fill the role of mother replacement/fairy godmother. Although she doesn’t provide her granddaughter with a ball gown or glass slippers, she does provide her with an inner road map which guides Magnolia to the truth of who she is and bolsters her courage as she makes her journey to herself.

The Tree Hugger is the third novella in the Once Upon a Time Today collection.

Heidi Garrett was born in Texas, and now she lives in Eastern Washington State with her husband. Garrett is the author of the contemporary fairy tale novella collection, Once Upon a Time Today. In these stand-alone retellings of popular and obscure fairy tales, adult characters navigate the deep woods of the modern landscape to find their Happily Ever Afters. She’s also the author of the Daughter of Light series, a fantasy about a young half-faerie, half-mortal searching for her place in the Whole.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Twelve Dancing Unicorns

I'm back! You'll be seeing lots of new posts on EC in the next few weeks as I catch up on things after my really awful accident with my finger. It feels much better.

Today, I'm writing about Twelve Dancing Unicorns, by Alissa Heyman. It's a picture book and is illustrated by Justin Gerard. As regular readers know, EC is geared toward ages 13 and up, so picture books are very seldom featured. But the title to the book intrigued me, so I read it, and I'm glad I did.

The story is a charming one, based, of course, on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." But in Heyman's story, the dozen princesses are unicorns, who are chained by a king and gawked at by the populace. The king is puzzled and disturbed when he finds that his unicorns are breaking their chains.

Naturally, he decrees that whomever can discover the secrets of the unchained unicorns will win a great prize. A little girl, our heroine, steps forth and takes on the challenge. The king is skeptical.

What happens next includes a magic cloak, an underground kingdom, fairies, jewels growing on trees, and a happily ever after for the unicorns and the little girl. The story is enchanting and perfect for the very young reader. It's easy to identify with the little girl's love of the unicorns and her desire to help them. The message that we shouldn't cage up wild things is very clear, but not delivered in a preachy way.

The illustrations are very much in the same vein as popular animation and illustration today. It's notably dreamy and soft--sort of bathed in gold. Little girls will love the look of this book and so will grown ups.

If you're looking for a great new picture book with a fairy tale theme, you'll want to buy Twelve Dancing Unicorns. It's a keeper.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

EC and I Briefly Out of Commission

This is the sorry result of an immersion blender, whipping cream, a lost fingernail and seven stitches.

EC and I will be out of commission for awhile--a week or two.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Girl Who Came Back, By Meg Eden

Meg Eden's Chapbook

In 1955, Enchanted Forest theme park opened in Maryland—even though it has been defunct for nearly twenty years, the fairy tales of the park remain and live in generations of park goers. I grew up on those legends, drawing maps of the park and listening to my mother’s stories, which helped her endure her fibromyalgia. The stories of the park became my canon for fairy tales, the park itself becoming a place I could only dream about going to. The poems in the collection The Girl Who Came Back recount the fairy tales of the park, making the characters in the park come to life. They delve into the characters of the park, including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Alice, Snow White and the Gingerbread Men, but also the history of the park’s conception. The collection preserves the mythology of the Enchanted Forest, embodying the spirit of nostalgia that fairy tale lovers will resonate with.

(Editor's note: Excerpts from two works are below.)


Visiting Girl Friends

Mom talks about Snow White and Sleeping
Beauty the way girls talk about the friends
they go to the bathroom with,
and who they tell their secrets.

She remembers their dresses, the way
their hair was done in familiar Disney patterns,
how their chests moved to trick us into thinking
they could breathe. There was something real
about them, she said. Like they could be trusted.


"The Girl Who Came Back"
Her father built the dragon in the yard. She remembers its ascension to the top of the gate. Perhaps it’s this habitual evidence that makes the offspring say, We thought it was just everyday life.
She left at a young age, I imagine. Perhaps she was bitter at her father for investing in forgotten myths and not in her own story. She was probably wearing a prodigal halter top and broken bangles when she walked out.
Only when she returned years later did she learn the house was gone. In its place, a pile of bricks. The gate was orange with rust. NO TRESSPASSING, read her childhood.
Pulling onto the grass, she split her skirt into strips like factory hands, knelt on the ground and gathered the bricks. And one by one, she placed them in the trunk of her car. This was what was left of her inheritance.

Meg Eden's collections include  "Your Son" (The Florence Kahn Memorial Award), “Rotary Phones and Facebook” (Dancing Girl Press) and The Girl Who Came Back (Red Bird Chapbooks). Check out her work at: 

Meg Eden

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams and Aladdin

Last night, we learned the sad news that Robin Williams died of what may have been suicide.

Williams' connection to fairy tales and fantasy is pretty strong. Obviously, there's Aladdin. But there's also Hook. And let's not forget Faerie Tale Theatre.

What was your favorite Robin Williams performance, fairy tale or otherwise?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another Treasure From Great-Grandmother's Trove, By Cristina Ruth Johnson, Vintage Fairy Tale Sleuth

I’ve mentioned before that my great-grandmother collected some beautiful books. Undine, which I wrote about in an earlier post, is one of them. Another is an exquisite edition of East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North, illustrated by the great Kay Nielsen.

 Kay Nielsen was born in Denmark in 1886. His career blossomed early, but the tides of war and of a declining interest in the illustrative arts left a magnificent talent to end his days in poverty. He died in 1957. Posthumously, he was eventually recognized as one--if not the--greatest illustrator of the Golden Age of Illustration.

“The Golden Age of Illustration was a period of unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustration. It developed from advances in technology permitting accurate and inexpensive reproduction of art, combined with a voracious public demand for new graphic art. In Europe, Golden Age artists were influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and by such design-oriented movements as the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau, and Les Nabis” (ArtCyclopedia).

Nielsen’s work is often noted as being inspired by fellow illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and, more generally, the Art Nouveau movement. He was also inspired from a young age by the art of Japan (example, Katsushika Hokusai), especially wood-block prints, as can be seen in his asymmetrical compositions and elements flattened by the use of rich and intricate patterns.

The first volume that Nielsen illustrated to great acclaim was In Powder and Crinoline, published in America as The Twelve Dancing Princesses, a collection of tales retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1913).
From Powder and Crinoline, Kay Nielsen

East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North was published the following year. Nielsen’s illustrations in this collection of fantastic and unusual stories are without a doubt his best work. (Admittedly, I’m biased, since I’ve seen them in person.) His creations have an oddness to them that catches the eye immediately, but the depth of beauty within this oddness keeps the eye’s attention. They are rich, they are compelling, they are . . . fairy-tale. Perfectly, wonderfully fairy tale.

"The Lassie and Her Grandmother," Kay Nielsen

Old Tales from the North was published by Hodder & Stoughton (1914). The first edition deluxe copies (of which 500 were made) are signed by Nielsen. They are bound in vellum with gilt lettering and decoration. The first edition trade copies are bound in blue cloth and likewise decorated in gilt. The tales within the anthology were mainly culled from George Webbe Dasent’s “Popular Tales from the Norse” (translated from Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe’sNorske Folkeeventyr in 1859) though one tale, “Prince Lindworm,” was actually translated specifically for this anthology. You can read the full text of the book online here.

Nielsen’s publishing career was stymied for the next 10 years by World War I and also by his interests in theater production, though he worked during this period on illustrations for a volume of stories from Arabian Nights, which was never completed. 1924 and 1925 saw the back-to-back publications of his work in anthologies of tales by Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers. The final book to feature his illustrations was the little-known Red Magic, published in 1930.  

Red Magic,  Kay Nielsen

Nielsen and his wife moved to California in 1936, where he spent the remainder of his life. His final illustrative work was done as an employee of Walt Disney Studios. We can see his creations in Fantasia (1940), including the “Night on Bald Mountain” and “Ave Maria” scenes. He also did early creative work for a proposed film based on Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”--a project which, as we know, would not see completion for another 50 years. The Little Mermaid film still credited Nielsen for “visual development.” 

The Little Mermaid, Kay Nielsen

Which of Nielsen’s illustrations is your favorite? Join Enchanted Conversation and let us know!

Christina Ruth Johnson recently received her Masters in Art History with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean and a side interest in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her other great love is fantasy literature from ancient times to present day.

Link to illustrations
Link to full text

Monday, August 4, 2014

Live-Action Fairy Tale Reimaginings Heading for the Silver Screen, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter

I've got a lot of little tidbits to share today, and all in relation to a cinema trend that's not going away soon--big budget films, in live-action, with fairy-tale settings, and a bit of a twist.

A few months ago, I reported that Kenneth Branaugh was putting together a live-action retelling of Disney's Cinderella (1950), slated for Spring 2015. I'm bringing it up again, because we've got a more fleshed-out cast list now, and it's really interesting. 

For one thing, it's an all-British line-up, with the exception of a Scot and an Aussie. The Disney film, in contrast, had a full cast of Yankees. I wonder, will there be a distinctly British flavor to this version, even though the All-American Disney Corp is still at the helm? 

Lily James as Cinderella, due in 2015
As I previously reported, Lily James of Downton Abbey will play Cinderella, and Richard Madden from Game of Thrones is Prince Charming. 

Lily's Downton co-star, Sophie McShera, will play her "ugly" stepsister, Drizella. Holliday Grainger from Anna Karenina (2012) plays Anastasia, the other stepsister. In contrast to the Disney characters they're representing, I don't think you could call either of these actresses ugly. At least, I wouldn't. So I wonder whether that aspect of the original film will come into play, or if the sisters will be portrayed as pretty "mean girls," as in Ever After (1998).

Seasoned actress Cate Blanchett is Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother (and I think she'll be PERFECT!). As for the Fairy Godmother, we have Helena Bonham Carter. That's... a very interesting choice, I think? She's usually cast as an eccentric, witchy type with dark or "twisted" tastes. Will she be similarly represented here, or more like the sweet and bubbly matron from the Disney film? We'll have to wait and see. The film opens March 13th, 2015.

Disney seems to be on a roll with these live-action "reimagining" films. Though not well received by critics, films like MaleficentOz The Great and Powerful, and Burton's Alice in Wonderland were highly profitable with audiences. In a monetary sense, they were box office successes. So Disney will be making more in the same vein. Four more, actually.

There are plans for a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, retitled, simply, The Beast. I suspect that means it will portray the Prince's backstory, or tell the story of the 1991 film from his point of view. So basically, it's Maleficent again? But a little more beastly?

To be perfectly honest (and if I may digress), I didn't care for Maleficent. I thought it could have been handled a lot better and didn't do justice to the original 1959 film--Walt Disney's magnum opus--or the classic fairy-tale that inspired them both. So when I heard about The Beast, I didn't exactly celebrate. How about you? What were your thoughts on Maleficent, if you saw it?

There was also a report that Emma Watson would be teaming up with director Guillermo Del Toro to create a version of "Beauty and the Beast" for Warner Bros. However, Del Toro has just recently dropped out of the project. I wonder if this version and Disney's The Beast will be coming out around the same time, and whether there's a push for the two to take different directions... and which will be more successful. At this point, there is no estimated release time for either film. 

Remember 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen Stewart? A sequel is now in the works, due sometime in 2016. But this film will not emphasize's Stewart's role as Princess Snow, as the first did. Reports are, it focuses more on Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman and Charlize Theron's Evil Queen. This is making me think of Maleficent and The Beast again, but the film is still in the early stages of production, so it's probably too soon to make any predictions.

I also shouldn't neglect to mention that Disney has two more of these remakes in the works: One being The Jungle Book (1967) and the other, Dumbo (1941). No, I'm not joking. If you're wondering, they'll both involve a mix of live-action and CGI.

So, in total, that's four upcoming live-action reimaginings by Disney, a Warner Bros. film, a sequel by Universal, and about a million others I didn't have time to mention.

This is a trend that is really not dying down. Fairy-tale junkies like us can only hope for the best, here. We can hope that any of these films will be able to bring out the true heart of the timeless tales they're re-spinning, to really do them justice, and actually be remembered as works of art with any substance.

But I'll stop being so cynical. Are you excited for any of these? Did you see Maleficent? Are you tired of this trend, or thankful that fairy tales are prominent in today's media?

Just a few things to think about. Happy Summer!

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."

Monday, July 28, 2014

The FAE Giveaway Winner Is ...

AL Loveday, as the winning number from Random Number Generator was 534, and one of AL's guesses was 538. Congrats, but AL must contact me at within 72 hours.

There will be more giveaways in the future, so please keep coming back!

Aimee has claimed her prize!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


FAE, a fabulous collection of stories of faerie folk, as well as humans--and encounters between them, debuts on July 22. Brought to us by World Weaver Press (publisher of my book, Beyond the Glass Slipper), the 17 tales cover a truly wide-ranging array of supernatural beings to be intrigued by, fall in love with, feel empathy for and feel terrified by.

To celebrate its debut, EC is having a giveaway of one electronic copy of the book.

I enjoyed every one of the stories, so by noting the following, I'm not playing favorites. (There's not a dud in the collection, so kudos to Rhonda Parrish, editor.)

There's Kristina Wojtaszek's  imaginative and charming "Solomon's Friend," about a a mom, a boy, a diary and a hob (goblin, I suppose). Mom learns much about her boy, in an entertaining, unpreachy way.

"Rosie Red Jacket," by Christine Morgan, is light as a feather, and tells the tale of how a lonely little girl finds fun and gets payback, with the help of a fae named Rosie.

L.S. Johnson's "Queen of Lakes," combines family drama (and unfairness to women), mysterious deaths, a each-uisge (water spirit) and horror. I raced through it.

"The Fairy Midwife," By Shannon Phillips, features a very cool, straightforward protagonist named Tara who ends up bringing fae babies into the world. I'd like to read a lot more about Tara and her work.

Then there's "The Cartography of Shattered Tree," by Beth Cato, which features abuse, pain, scarring, lightning, and a dryad. And it all works.

You'll love this book. And many thanks to Word Weaver Press for giving EC a free copy of the e-book!

Here are the rules for the giveaway of one electronic copy of FAE:

1) To enter, you must be 18 years of age, but because this is an e-book giveaway, you can be a resident of any country.
2) You must comment below with a guess of a number between 400 and 1,000. Don't forget to guess the number!
3) Only one entry per person, UNLESS, you tweet (or retweet), Facebook post, find a way to pin or otherwise promote this contest. Then you may enter a second time. The second entry must include a link to the way you promoted the contest, plus another number guess between 400 and 1,000. Again, it must be done in the comment box for this post.
4) The contest ends July 27 at 11:59 pm, EST. The winner will be announced on July 28. The winner will then have 72 hours to send me a message at, acknowledging  the win. If the winner does not contact me within 72 hours, I will pick a new winner.
5) You MUST follow EC through Twitter, one of the Google methods, Pinterest or Facebook before you enter, to qualify. If you are named a winner, you will be asked to how you follow. This is not optional. And you must follow before you enter, not after you win.
6) No former or current or future students of mine at IUSB may enter.