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Why Fairy tales?

These childhood fables are rich in themes—of redemption, of good vs. evil, of selfishness, of kindness, of love—which is a writer’s dream.

Merriam & Webster’s definition of a fairy tale – noun: A story (as for children) involving fantastic forces and beings (such as fairies, wizards, and goblins)

b. a story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending

One of the most popular English classes offered at the university I attended, was about fairy tales. I opted out with an eye roll. Why would I take that, when I could take a whole course on Lucy Maud Montgomery? Priorities people!

Decades later and I laugh at how my priorities have changed. Today, I’m fascinated with fairy tales and retellings. Between you and me, I kinda wished I took the course.

What shifted? How did I go from one extreme to the other?

Was it expanding my reading repertoire? The lure of a happy ending? Swoony princes and knights? A combination of all? Probably the latter.

I’ve read a lot of books over the last few years, including Marisa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. This series is retellings of popular fairy tales—Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel. I was hooked. You should check it out—they’re so much fun to read.

Apparently, I’m not the only one hooked on these old tales. It’s not just Marisa Meyer reinventing the stories. There are many YA authors out there, including myself, happily re-spinning them. Why is that?

HEA. Happily.Ever.After.

There you have it. We know the ending and there’s security in that, especially when our real world or IRL (in real life) is full of chaos, angst, and wickedness. There’s no guarantee that a HEA will play out on earth in our lives. Marriages fail, families fail, and economies fail and much like a game of dominos, it effects many other parts in our lives. But that’s where fairy tales come in—they offer a temporary escape from all the crazy.

For a short time, we get to forget our problems, and instead become the hero or heroine, who does save the world, or at least the world in the book. Is it real? No, but it can inspire us in our real lives. Don’t we want to be kind like Cinderella? Don’t we want to take a risk like Ariel?

As an author, I find it gratifying to write in this genre. The journey to the HEA is the whole point. A retelling means I took the framework of the story then changed it. The Wolves are human so I could tell a story about forbidden love. What if the Wolf fell in love Red Riding Hood? That takes the whole story in a different direction which creates more questions.

For example, is the Wolf the bad guy? But what if he could be the hero? Or is he always slated to be the villain?

I don’t know. It’s one of the things I explore in both Into the Forest and its sequel, Weight of the Crown. (Releasing late 2023.)

These childhood fables are rich in themes—of redemption, of good vs. evil, of selfishness, of kindness, of love—which is a writer’s dream.

For me, the themes reflect the larger story of Emmanuel, God with us. Our lives are a journey, a series of adventures that lead us closer to God, and our purpose. As we discover God’s great love for us, the plot unfolds; we fail, get back up, learn to love God, learn to love others, and hopefully learn to love ourselves. Repeat. It’s a quest to discover who God is and who we are in the process. Only we can’t save the day. Only God can do that and though he already has, it’s just not our IRL yet.

In the meantime, we are redeemed and can have an abundant life here. Until one day, God will usher in our ultimate HEA.

Why fairy tales? There’s your answer.