Why Fairy Tales?
Updated: May 17
My hope is to be better at this regular posting thing. You’d think someone close to celebrating seven years of blogging would have that down by now, but apparently I haven’t reached perfection just yet. 😉 I think I’m feeling the pressure that this is my writing blog and must only hold the most professional samples of my work. Maybe I need to stop thinking so much and just type from the heart.
As I begin this new blog with its endless posting possibilities, I feel it’s only right to explain why I’m writing fairy tale retellings. (Or, to be strictly accurate, fairy tale continuations, as I focus primarily on after “happily ever after.”) Shouldn’t someone my age be a little more grounded in reality?
Maybe. But where’s the fun in that?
I suppose if you’ve read any of my other blogs you’d know by now that I basically never grew up. My other blog is even called “Never Grow Up.” I still hold to that.
Sure, it’s important to pay bills, get a job, take care of your children, or whatever other adultish duties God has brought your way. We need to be responsible human beings. Still, I think it’s important to never lose sight of that sense of wonder we have as kids. The ability to stop and grin over a beautiful rainbow after a storm, or well up with happiness at the sight of a field full of flowers, or to spend a carefree afternoon with close friends doing nothing important. It could be eating Lucky Charms for breakfast (or dinner), or taking gummy vitamins because they’re more fun to chew, or collecting dolls and toys.
I think if every once in a while we take a break from our serious, stressed, adult lives and loosen up, we’ll be a lot happier, and we’ll be able to relate to the children in our lives, whether they’re our offspring, our students, or other children in the community. Reading fairy tales is one of the ways I lose the stress and escape a little. It takes me back to simpler times, when life was all about school and Disney movies and drawing for hours on end.
Fairy tales also have wonderful parabolic potential. (Parabolic as in the telling of parables, not the scientific term). 😉 To this day, the Biblical passages that resonate the most with me are those that use allegory or parables to illustrate an important truth. The armor of God passage, for example, in Ephesians 6, or the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, are both passages that make Scripture come alive. In my creative, imaginative brain, something clicks and makes the concepts illustrated there that much more understandable.
Like these parables, fairy tales often have themes or truths to impart about the treatment of others and how the decisions one makes can often have an affect on their future, for good or ill. What excellent potential for deeper, richer storytelling!
One of my favorite book series of all time is The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Throughout these imaginative, wonderful tales of different worlds, talking animals, brave kings, fantasy creatures, and most importantly, the majestic lion Aslan, Lewis drops nuggets of Biblical truth.
When I attended Bible college and took theology classes, time after time an aspect of my theological studies would take me back to Narnia. Lewis used his stories to beautifully illustrate such things as God’s power, His unconditional love, His perfect, all-knowing nature, and more. Some of my earliest lessons in theology and the nature of God were shared in a way I could easily understand in the pages of those books.
I loved the Narnia books for another reason. In many of the other stories I read as a child, it was up to the hero or heroine to somehow come up with the strength to overcome all odds and save the day. There was always the danger that they would mess everything up and destroy life as they knew it. The Narnian tales were such a comfort to me. Even as a child, I knew that no matter what happened, Aslan had everything under control and would use even the faults and flaws of the main characters for their good and for the good of his plan. This confidence served as a reminder of the trust and confidence I had in Christ. No matter what happened, I knew I could depend on Him to guide and direct me, to use things for my good even when I messed them up.
I think those of us who love fairy tales and fantasy stories have a unique perspective on the world that others don’t. We see the world for its possibilities, and have little problem imagining that there is more to this life than what we see. I’ve often wondered if people like me have an easier time believing in the existence of God, of Heaven, of Hell. Our minds are not so bound to what we can see, feel, and hear alone.
You’ve probably noticed the plethora of fairy tale retellings currently on the market. From books, to movies, to TV shows, fairy tales have become almost as popular as zombies, sparkly vampires, and Amish fiction. While this ever increasing selection of fairy tale stories was exciting at first, most of the ones I tried left me disappointed. So many of them were full of darkness, betrayal, and moral ambiguity. Finding a modern story with characters of real integrity was a challenge.
I realize, of course, that many of the original fairy tale stories were quite dark, so one could argue that in choosing to stick with darker themes, these retellings are simply staying true to their roots. Perhaps. And for those who enjoy these sorts of stories, there are many to choose from. For those, like myself, who prefer lighter tales with uplifting themes and characters with moral integrity, the selection is much more limited.
My dream is to give the world stories filled with hope, truth, and light; stories that will uplift and encourage my readers and, ultimately, point them to the love of Christ. It’s a big task, and I still have a lot to learn, but each draft of my book brings me closer to the story I want to share.
Plus, I get to write about unicorns and mermaids, so it’s pretty much a win/win situation.
In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite fairy tales, keeping you updated on my writing adventures, and perhaps doing some book reviews and author interviews. Do any of you have some favorite fairy tales you’d like to hear about?
In the meantime, to my fellow fairy tale nerds, stay whimsical, dream of unicorns, and don’t forget to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms every once in a while.