I had planned to actually start typing up The Blue Caverns over the weekend (it’s been easier for me to write in a notebook before typing things up lately) so I could at least post part of the beginning. But… pregnancy isn’t always kind to me, so that never happened. Now forced to abandon those plans for today, I thought I’d write a little about fairy tales and why they figure so largely in The Blue Caverns.
It all started with my mom. My mom never, ever, ever read a single fairy tale to me. Ever. Instead, she let me watch Disney movies to my heart’s desire. Since then, I’ve had a not so mild obsession with fairy tales, riveted by any and all Disney fairy tale movies and unhealthily attached to a book of some of the more innocent tales that I found sitting on my bookshelf sometime during my middle childhood years. That book, apparently, had always been there, but was never one my mom ever picked up to read to me.
One day I asked her why she never read fairy tales to me. All of my friends and classmates had had them read to them as babies and young children. Instead, my mom would read the classics, fiction novels, and even a romance or two because she figured she had to read the darn book and I was a baby so I wouldn’t know what the heck she was reading. Anyways, she said she would only read the original fairy tales. And if anyone knows the Grimms’ fairy tales, they’re anything but good children’s literature. For goodness sakes, the stepsisters in Cinderella cut off parts of their own feet to fit into a tiny glass slipper! Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother get eaten by a wolf (some versions end there). Hansel and Gretel have a stepmother who tries to abandon them so they die and they end up running into a cannibal witch. That was not what she wanted to read to me. Of course, there were the Disney books, but she considered them too watered down and, besides, that’s what the movies were for.
I should have been happy with that explanation, should have left it alone. Alas, my obsession had already begun. I took German in high school and we got to read some of the Grimms’ fairy tales in German. In college we had to write a research paper as freshmen. I wrote about fairy tales and feminism. I was so obsessed. Still am.
Fairy tales figure quite a bit in The Blue Caverns. I am, after all, obsessed with them. I agree with my mom that the original stories tend to be gruesome and horrifying. But I at least want my kids to be exposed to them. Instead of retelling them, I’m incorporating them into my story, having Alex travel through several of my favorite fairy tales. Of course, I do focus more on the innocent parts, taking only a sliver of the story and then twisting the telling so it fits my plot. Even as an expectant mother, my obsession with fairy tales continues. But maybe my kids will experience liberation from them and won’t turn into me.