Twice Upon a Time: books that will make you rethink Fairy Tales

We hope that Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women will encourage people to rethink the fairy tales they have always known. Many people think of princess tales as the standard, but looking back through the history of fairy tales, you’ll find many stories of women who slayed dragons, rescued princes and saved their own lives. If you want to delve deeper into the history and cultural theory of the genre, here are some books that will help you change the way you think about fairy tales.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World. 

This is one of the most loved anthologies in my collection.  It is where I first read The Stolen Child (as The Stolen Bairn) and one I often go back to. As the blurb states, it is: a definitive sourcebook of folktales and fairytales and the first of its kind to feature a variety of multicultural heroines.5e8c1b8d18bc1de6c3e0c383fba7d8cbc6515d9b

 

From the Beast to the Blonde.

If you have an interest in fairy tale theory, then Marina Warner won’t be a new name to you. With a razor sharp wit and delightful writing style, she’s a hero(ine) to many. Here she discusses the history and meaning of fairy tales, and how their different narrators and writers affected the status of the stories they told. For more, try her latest Once Upon a Time.
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Twice Upon a Time

This is a brilliant book on women writers of fairy tales. From the Conteuses of 17th century France to contemporary authors, Wanning Harris discusses how their important contribution the field has often fallen by the wayside. Buy it. Read it. You won’t regret it.


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The Uses of Enchantment

Is now a good time to admit that Jungian psychoanalysis of fairy tales often makes me want to throw things? No? Well, it might not always be my cup of tea, but the focus on self-understanding and accessing inner strengths might just change your preconceptions of the fairy tales you know so well. Bruno Bettleheim’s The Uses of Enchantment is a classic, and one that I’m pleased to admit I’ve never thrown out of a nearby window.  For an alternate view, try Maria Tatar’s excellent Off with their Heads.

Also in my collection is The Feminine in Fairytales, a deep dive into the psychology of many classic tales, and the archetypes and symbolic themes within them. 51uj-Z3cS2L._SL300_

The Victorian Press and the Fairy Tale

The Victorian rise of newspapers heralded somewhat of a golden age for fairy tales. Often released in periodical form it was the first time they were accessible to a mass audience in literary form. This is a fascinating look at how fairy tales were used at the time to debate issues of the day: socialism, women’s rights, racism and more.

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The Irresistible Fairy Tale

I can’t write a list of books without including Jack Zipes. Arguably the god father of fairy tale critical theory, he has written widely on most aspects of the fairy tale. Here is a good place to start.f047a35a6d8affb49338e58080cf8850caa181d0

The Bloody Chamber

Angela Carter is the doyen of contemporary revisionist fairy tales, and her feminist approach is unflinching and fearless. If you have ever dismissed fairy tales as being light hearted fluff for children, The Bloody Chamber is a collection of tales that will change your mind. Seriously, this is not the bedtime collection for your six year old. Or you, if you’re prone to vivid dreams.

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If these have whetted your appetite, here are a few more books that are teetering on my TBR pile. Do you have any favourites that I’ve missed? Leave a comment below, or share this post on social media with a book that changed your perspective on fairy tales.

And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women.

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The Illustration Process

When you look at Lorena’s illustrations, do you see paint? Ink? Paper cut outs? Her work is certainly inspired by the incredible pen and ink illustrations of Arthur Rackham and the watercolour and cut-out works of Jan Pienkowski, but she uses an altogether different method. In an extract from a conference paper she recently gave at the Australian Fairy Tale Society conference, Lorena describes her method in her own words:

I work entirely with photography, which does surprise a lot of people. These works aren’t paintings or drawings. Instead I photograph many separate elements and montage them together in Photoshop.

We’ll go right back to the beginning of my process. My work always starts with what the landscape gives me. I collect small treasures – leaves, stones, animal bones – and photograph them, then file them into digital folders ready to draw from.

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As you can see below, the bridge of bones is made from an entire fox skeleton, with a couple other skulls thrown in for good measure.  A year or so ago, we had some friends staying, and they returned from a walk in the bush near our house with a bundle wrapped up in a silk scarf. “We have a present for you!” Unwrapping it with a flourish, they revealed a pile of white bones – a fox skeleton! Once I reassembled it, I was thrilled to discover it was completely intact, minus a few tiny toes.

I photographed them one by one on a light box, and assembled them carefully in photoshop. In the end, this image was created from 72 separate photographs, and was the basis for one of the illustrations for The Rainbow Prince in Vasilisa The Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women:

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I start by photographing the pieces I need, either on-location (usually squatting somewhere damp!) or at home on the light box. The light box gives me the silhouette that I need, which I then refine later in Photoshop. If I’m photographing a large subject, like a person, I set up the studio lights, lighting the wall behind the subject, but not the subject themselves.

Next, I upload the photographs to the computer and make any necessary adjustments. These are saved into in my *ahem* extremely well organised filing system, ready for use.

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I usually start a new image with the silhouette components. I either use them as themselves – trees, people etc – or I build creatures out of lots of seperate photographs. The fox bridge for example, or creatures I wouldn’t have a chance of photographing myself. Here are a few animals that I’ve created out of sticks, leaves, bones… stuff from the forest floor. When making a composite creature, I try to be conscious of their surroundings in the story and illustration, and use objects that you would find there. In that way, they are built up from their own ‘landscape’.

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Once I’ve built up the silhouettes, I layer in the background – itself often made from several photographs merged together. And there, after a process that can take anywhere from several hours to many days of collecting, photographing, editing, montaging and layering, we have a completed image.

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You can see Lorena talk further about Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women at the Athenaeum Library in Melbourne, this Thursday evening (July 20th) as part of the Australian Fairy Tale Society’s Fairy Tale Evening. Alongside singers, storytellers & writers, she will discuss the upcoming book and her creative process.

And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Vasilisa the Wise. The first 1000 pre-orders come with a free gift, so don’t miss out!

The production whirlwind

Originally when Serenity Press contracted Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women, a 2018 launch was planned. But after hearing repeated questions like, ‘When do pre-orders open?’ the release date has been brought forward to December 2017. Pre-orders will open in July!

So, where are we up to in the production process?

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A magical conjunction of events

This post first appeared on Kate Forsyth’s blog and is reblogged here with her permission.
BY KATE FORSYTH
I have always been a great believer in serendipity.
It’s as if the universe sees a lacking, or a longing in me, and nudges something I need towards me.

 

This time serendipity has brought about the most magical conjunction of events, which is going to result in a most beautiful book.

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Vasilisa the Wise

This post originally appeared on Lorena’s blog, The Bone Lantern, and is reblogged with her permission.

I’m so thrilled to announce that a book I’ve been working on with the marvellous author Kate Forsyth has been picked up by Serenity Press and will be published in 2018!

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Vasilisa the Wise & Other Tales of Brave Young Women will be a collection of seven fairy tale re-tellings written by Kate and accompanied by my illustrations. They are stories of independent girls and women; tales of adventure, bravery, kindness and strength.

It’s a fantastic process we’re following, much different to the usual writer/illustrator relationship, and a way of working that is, to an illustrator at least, both rare and wonderful. We’ve both chosen stories we love. Some Kate has written first, and sent me to work with. I have created several artworks for others, and sent them to Kate before she starts writing. We’re inspiring each other, and it really is magical. And such a privilege.

Kate has written a blog post about how we found each other which, speaking of magical, was incredibly fortuitous and an example of the importance of having a social media presence as an author and/or illustrator. Allison Tait, brilliant author of The Mapmaker Chronicles, co-host of the essential So You Want To Be a Writer podcast, and strident advocate for having a good author platform (in fact she even teaches a course on it!) introduced us on Twitter thinking that Kate might like my work. Thankfully she was right! Kate bought one of my prints to celebrate finishing her PhD, and we kept corresponding, hoping that we might be able to work together one day. We came up with a plan, did some work… and two years later, we can finally tell you all about it!

It really has been a project of lucky, magical and fortuitous connections. Around a month ago, Kate posted the following on her Facebook page:

One day I’d like to write #fairytale retellings of little-known tales with brave, clever heroines for teenage girls to read. Would anyone like to publish stories like that?

And Monique from Serenity Press said yes! Now we are three women, from three corners of the country (Sydney, Perth & regional Victoria) working on this book together. With all that each of us have to contribute, it really is going to be a wondrous thing.

Cheers to that!

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