Hat tip to Darren Steele, who tweeted the following link earlier today:
A whole new world of magic animals, brave young princes and evil witches has come to light with the discovery of 500 new fairytales, which were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for over 150 years. The tales are part of a collection of myths, legends and fairytales, gathered by the local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810–1886) in the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz at about the same time as the Grimm brothers were collecting the fairytales that have since charmed adults and children around the world. Read more
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting the English translation of this new collection.
But will this take care of the insane dependence writers have on the usual fairy tales like “Snow White”, “Sleeping Beauty”, and the Big Mama of all fairy tales, “Cinderella”? Sad to say, but I’ve a feeling that things won’t change in this case. These three rule the roost at least in the YA romance department because they’re familiar and perhaps regarded as the most romantic fairy tales around. They offer safety in the well-known, I suppose, and from the publisher’s POV, familiarity also means profits.
And, yes, I’m also pointing an accusing finger at myself because I wrote Arabesque as a surrealist retelling of “Snow White”, and I’m about 20,000 words into Rose and Spindle, which is a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” from the perspective of the princess’ gay cousin, who’s a dour, snotty sort. I know. My bad. I suppose in my defense, Rose and Spindle is also a satire on fairy tale conventions just as the Desmond and Garrick series is a satire on paranormal YA romances.
I personally would love to see writers take chances on folktales that are obscure. In fact, the more obscure, the better. I find them to be much more refreshingly unique – sometimes grittier or darker, sometimes more cockeyed than the popular charmers we know, sometimes just plain insane and fascinating. And there are hundreds and hundreds of these stories around the world (dare I say thousands?). Now another 500 just got added to their number, and I’d kill to get myself a copy.
And you can find several collections of those for free if you have an e-reader. Writers of fairy tales (retellings or original) could benefit from sampling them for inspiration. I own a Kindle, and I constantly raid Amazon’s site for free fairy tale collections from all over the world. I’ve been stocking up especially on Eastern European folktales and can’t wait to dive into them. At the moment I’m trying to finish off Scottish Ghost Stories, which I’m enjoying very much, and then I’ll be wringing my hands over what folktale collection to take up next.