Today I have the honor of introducing Rachel Fuller, the author of "Faerytale", which was recently reviewed here on DarkissReads. Rachael was so kind to grant DarkissReads an interview, so without further a due we welcome Rachael Fuller.
1) Faerytale is described as a dark telling of classic tales, were you nervous about reader’s reactions to your take on these beloved tales?
Not at all. Fairytales were originally written as dark, twisted tales:sometimes to convey a moral message, sometimes just to tell a dark and scary story. Although fairytales such as Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood pre-date the Brothers Grimm, it’s the Grimm’s versions which are the best-known, and these versions are a lot darker and more sinister. They do not necessarily have happy endings. However over the years, these stories have been adapted and “brightened up”, most notably by Disney, giving them musical hits and happy endings. There is nothing wrong with these films at all and I enjoyed watching them growing up, but I have always preferred the darker versions.
Even Disney has changed over the years. The more classic Disney films such as Snow White and Pinocchio were all dark and sinister in their own way. But over time, they grew lighter and lighter, most likely over fears of scaring young children.
The Brothers Grimm fairytales had elements of danger. The evil was truly evil and the good were sometimes flawed. The darker aspects of these tales made them more fascinating and dramatic to me and I do think that these days children are over-protected from “scary” stories, which is a shame because (within reason of course) these can be very exciting to read! There have been many “re-imaginings” of fairytales in film over the years, now more than ever with two Snow White films coming out next year and Red Riding Hood from this year. This just proves that fairytales never go out of fashion and people want to see the darker and more sinister side to these well-loved tales.
2) With so many classic tales to choose from, what made you choose the three you incorporated into your book?
When Ellie and Lucy first enter the world of Faerytale, it is bright and magical. Soft pink bubbles fall from a hazy sky, colorful trees with peacock feathers wave softly in the wind, the grass is like bright green candy floss. However, the world starts to change as soon as they arrive. Throughout the story, the skies gradually darken fading from pink to purple and then finally to black. The land becomes barren; snow falls and covers the ground as storms brew overhead. I picked the fairytales deliberately to match this changing landscape.
Rapunzel was first because I have always found this particular fairytale to be arguably less sinister than the rest. This is Lucy’s first encounter with a fairytale “gone wrong”. Lucy next meets the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood when the skies overhead have blackened. As the “beast” in the story, which she must defeat before she gets to the main protagonist, it is only right the scenery matches the danger at this point in her journey. And, a forest at night with bare and twisted trees is the perfect setting for such a duel. Finally, Snow White’s wicked stepmother, arguably the most evil and twisted protagonist of all the fairytales, is her last battle whom she faces just as the world is on the edge of being lost to darkness. So the choice of these three fairytales was deliberate. They fit in with the progression of the overall story both in terms of the ever-increasing darkness of the world around her and in the increasing danger she encounters on her path to find her little sister.
3) Can you tell us about how you came up with the idea for Faerytale?
Faerytalewas initially written as a screenplay. I originally saw it as short stop-motion animated film, very much like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Peter and the Wolf, as it was very visual with particular emphasis on the dark atmosphere and landscape. The original story was actually a lot darker and more gruesome, aimed at much older children and adults.
The character of Ellie is based on myself, as I was at her age, and Lucy is based on my older sister, Charlotte. As my older sister, she naturally found her little sister quite tiresome and she lost interest in childish games, fairytales and magic long before I did. But it was Charlotte who used to tell me those stories when I couldn’t sleep at night, often making them up,much in the same way that Lucy tells Ellie that fairies use children’s teeth to build castles in the sky. So quite a lot of Faerytale comes from my own childhood and the way I saw the world the back then, with the help of my older sister before and after she grew up.
When you are little and you believe in the worlds and the characters within the books that you read, life seemed much more magical and vivid. We all lose a part of this as we grow up and become independent and experience life for real. But all of us still have that connection with our childhood naivety and still want to believe in magic tales and adventures. So Faerytale, although aimed at children who love fantasy and fairytales, it is also aimed at adults, like myself, who have never fully grown out of them.
4) One of the things that makes this book special is the writing style of “Narrative Rhyme”, did you find it easy to pen the book in this style, or was It difficult?
Although it was initially written as a screenplay with very little dialogue, I started to write it as a short story. However I didn’t enjoy writing it as much as I’d hoped, it was starting to feel a little cliché and was losing the darkness I had initially loved about the story.
I have always written to my Grandmother in rhyme. We have a big pile of “mice poems” between us, telling the ongoing saga of the mice which lived in our house (living in the country it was expected!). So I started to write Faerytale in narrative rhyme and just found it so fun to do! With the basic story in mind I found it strangely easier to write in rhyme and more and more ideas came flooding in that fit the rhythm of the story I had had created.
Obviously narrative rhyme can divide people with some people finding it a refreshing and fun way of telling a story while others find it frustrating to read. But there are so few narrative rhyme books out there to appeal to both children and adults and boys andgirls that I believe there is a gap in the market for stories such as Faerytale. Rhyme is a charming and very traditional way to tell a story, once you get into the rhythm of the rhyme it adds so many more layers to a story.
5) Your book is published by Safkhet Publishing, can you tell us a bit about them?
Safkhet is an independent publisher. Right now, they specialize in cookery and fantasy with Faerytale of course being part of their fantasy list along with The Banned Underground, a humorous tale of a dwarf blues bands and jazz-loving trolls, and an activity book Ollie the Octopus. So their list is quite diverse!
As this is my first published book, it was initially a very exciting but daunting prospect but they have been incredibly supportive and honest throughout the process. For me, they were the first publisher to take my submission seriously as narrative rhyme is often seen as too “risky”. But I am so glad they took a risk of Faerytale because I truly believe there is a huge market out there for stories told in rhyme and the response I have had so far has been fantastic.
6) Is there a message in your tale that you want your readers to grasp?
To be honest I didn’t write Faerytale with a particular message in mind. Obviously Lucy is a very strong, brave and capable character and as such she is a good role model for children. But ultimately Faerytale was written because I know there are many adults out like myself who still enjoy the darker side of fairytales. And whilst Faerytale is ultimately a children’s book, it can also appeal to adults who, like myself, still love old fashioned story-telling.
7) How did you come up with the title?
The story is an adventure based around three fairytales but told in the style of the Brothers Grimm, so more to the roots of how fairytales were originally told. Therefore, instead of calling it “Fairytale” I chose “Faerytale” as this is a more traditional spelling of “fairy” with darker connotations. From a less technical point of view though, searches on Google using both spellings bring up completely different images and sites. The word fairybrings up Disney, with sweet pictures of cute fairies like Tinkerbell. Using faerie or faebrings up a much darker worlds of sinister creatures based in much older folktales and myths. Therefore,I found Faerytale to be much more fitting for my story.
8) You just recently had your first book signing at Waterstones in St. Albans, can you tell us a little bit about that event?
To become a published author has always been a dream of mine and now that dream has come true. And to actually attend a book signing for my own book was really quite surreal! Obviously as a debut author, the people who came into the store were certainly not there to see me! But many were drawn to the table from the cover art, as it really is an eye-catching cover. So couple the title Faerytale with an enigmatic cover featuring a darker Rapunzel scene and people were curious!
What was most exciting for me was the range of people who bought Faerytale. One couple bought it for their unborn child and asked me to sign it to their “bump”, another was an older gentlemen who advised it wasn’t a Christmas present for a grandchild but for himself as he loved fairytales! So it was a really fantastic day and was certainly something I never imagined myself being lucky enough to do!
9) Can you tell us what keeps you busy when you are not writing?
Reading! Reading has always been a constant source of pleasure to me and when I find the time there is nothing quite like getting lost in an imaginary world. And it’s from these worlds that I find inspiration and the need to write of my own imaginary worlds.
10) Do you have any new projects in the works?
I am currently working on a retelling of Sleeping Beauty in rhyme. My plan is to actually rewrite all the favorite fairytales by fleshing out the stories and giving them their own dark twists but also keeping them in narrative rhyme. So after Sleeping Beauty I plan to rewrite Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood etc. and ultimately work up a collection of dark and twisted fairytales retold in narrative rhyme which can appeal to both children and adults.
Rachael Fuller can be found here : http://www.rachaelfuller.co.uk/faerytale/index.php
Thank you Rachael! We at DarkissReads with you all the best!
Interviewed by Witchofthemists