My Life Just Grew Richer By 500 Stories

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.

4 thoughts on “My Life Just Grew Richer By 500 Stories

  1. Massive squeee!!

    I particularly agreed with this paragraph in the article:
    “Eichenseer says the fairytales are not for children alone. “Their main purpose was to help young adults on their path to adulthood, showing them that dangers and challenges can be overcome through virtue, prudence and courage.”

    I agree that there should be retellings of the more obscure stories. The wonderful thing is, we could both choose the same story and we will write two totally different tales, that is the strength of stories, they dig into the universal subconscious.

    Take Bluebeard for example. Now there is a fascinating tale.

    • Ah, “Bluebeard” is a fantastic story. I’ve only seen it retold once, and it was Angela Carter’s feminist version of it. I have a feeling that a lot of writers, especially those who love fairy tales because of the romance elements, are turned off by dark stories even though you can really take so many of those themes and run away with them. If anything, I’ve had one reader DNF Arabesque because she found it too dark and convoluted (plus the language wasn’t her cup of tea).

      That said, if I see another “Cinderella” retelling, whether it’s YA or adult, it’ll be a billion years too soon.

  2. I have a few awesome collections, the “____ fairy book” with the blank being different colors (red, grey, blue, etc). If you don’t already have these, I highly recommend them.

    My personal favorite fairy tale is probably the 12 Dancing Princesses. I’m also very fond of “Thumbalina”

    • “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is a really good one. :D I ended up squeezing some of that in Arabesque’s conflict, but I think that fairy tale requires quite a bit of exploration. I’ve also seen those color fairy tale books you mentioned (online, that is), whenever I try to do research on folklore. I’ll have to check to see if the library has copies that I can borrow.

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