Monday, December 10, 2018

Armando Gutierrez's "Little Mermaid" Movie is Now on Netflix

We've been keeping an eye on this movie since 2016, and were naturally very excited to see it pop up on our Netflix feed this weekend. From the trailer, we knew to expect a circus theme, set in Mississippi, but beyond that, many questions swarmed our mind. The biggest unknown was how strong the film's connection would be to Andersen's tale. It clearly wasn't trying to be a straightforward adaptation, but would it merely use the title for name recognition?

Here's the trailer for those who haven't seen it yet:

The movie's villain, played by Gutierrez himself

The movie starts with an animated short to provide the movie's backstory. A mermaid rescues a man  from a shipwreck and falls in love with him. She becomes human in order to be with him, but her love is not reciprocated. So far, pretty close to Andersen's version (there are also other little details directly pulled from the fairy tale). However, the goal of Andersen's mermaid is to gain a soul by winning the heart of the human prince. Here, mermaids already have souls, and this one (whose name is Elizabeth) bargains it away. When her human does not fall in love with her, the evil wizard gets to keep her soul forever.
While this is a significant difference, I think the change makes a lot of sense for the movie. After all, this is less of a retelling and more of a sequel to the original. Andersen's story has a definitive endings, leaving no reason to revisit the characters again. Gutierrez tweaks the circumstances around to give the plot a reason to continue.

Did you catch the bit about the evil wizard? Yep, this movie follows Disney's lead and adds a clear villain for our characters to battle. Sometimes it's hard to remember that there's nothing truly diabolical about Andersen's sea witch, who doesn't seem to have any agenda, unlike Disney's Ursula. Andersen's conflict stems from the Little Mermaid's circumstances. She is her worse enemy, in many ways, since the choices she make set her up for disaster. But for a 90 minute movie, it's harder to anchor the audience if you don't have a clear opponent for your heroes to fight against. So we get an evil wizard who steals Elizabeth's soul in order to grow his own power. It's a bit simplistic, but it's not a horrible choice.

So what did I think? Honestly, I found the whole package pleasant, but rather forgettable. The actors are solid, the plot doesn't have too many holes, and it's rare for me to gush about beautiful CGI, but the mermaid's tail was truly flawless and believable. I'd say it's one step above what I'd imagine a Hallmark mermaid movie to be like, but most of that step is in the production quality. 

We could be done with this review here. But there is a part of me that started analyze this Little Mermaid from a more critical angle. As a feminist, I can't stop myself from thinking about how mermaids are often objectified, treated as a symbol for male desire and fantasy. Even the darker more dangerous Sirens still embody male temptation. This movie doesn't challenge the mermaid stereotype, although one could argue that Elizabeth is more like a chaste princess in a tower rather than an unattainable temptation. Elizabeth is sweet and beautiful. She longs for freedom and love, but there's not much else to her character. In fact, the younger female protagonist, Elle (human), has more complexity to her character, but that's probably because she's too young to have a romantic plotline.  

Sidenote: Is this why Shape of Water was so revolutionary? Is is because it gender swapped the traditional roles of human and mermaid? 

Now, don't get me wrong, there is something irresistible and timeless about the whole land/sea love story. I can't deny that there's something inherently electric about characters longing for the seemingly impossible relationships. But can mermaids exist outside of this construct? I'd be curious if anyone knows of any mermaid books that really break the mold on this. Please let me know!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Vote for Timeless Tales' Next Theme

In case you haven't heard, voting is currently open for choosing Timeless Tales Magazine's next theme. While they often feature fairy tale themes, this time they are returning to their other love: Greek mythology.

Since opening up the poll a few months ago, Persephone has taken an early lead, but there's still time to give a boost to the other contenders. Visit their website to cast your vote now!

Here's how things currently stand:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Review: Jack Zipes' New Book: Fearless Ivan & Double-Hump

Reviewed by Patricia Ash


It is always an absolute delight to find a fairy tale I’ve never heard of before. While the story of Fearless Ivan is well-known in Russia, it is almost unknown here in the United States. That needs to change, because this story deserves a place among the greats.

Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov was something of a Russian Hans Christian Andersen, writing his own original fairy tales instead of collecting and compiling preexisting folk tales. He wrote The Little Humpbacked Horse in 1834 as a poem and when it was published as Fearless Ivan And His Faithful Horse Double-Hump, it became an instant classic. At the time, the inclusion of a villainous tsar was considered subversive, but despite (or perhaps because) the authorities tried to ban the book, it was wildly successful. 

Portrait of Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov
Portrait of Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov
Readers familiar with Russian culture will quickly pick up on two iconic elements of the nation’s folklore that appear in this book: A hero named Ivan and a firebird. Ivan is the Russian Everyman. Westerners might call him Jack. Firebirds appear repeatedly in Russian folklore as objects of quests or benevolent demigods. They sometimes symbolize Russia itself. 

Our hero’s chief attributes are his foolishness and his love of sleeping (I can relate). Ivan is the youngest of three sons, and his father is a farmer. One day, something starts destroying the crops. The older brothers guard the field on successive nights, but chicken out and lie about it. Ivan doesn’t give into his fear and manages to catch the crop-destroyer. It’s a magical mystery mare who can fly. He grabs her by the tail and goes on an adventure. Before disappearing forever, she rewards him with a pair of gorgeous stallions and a goofy-looking talking horse with two humps and giant ears.
The next morning, Ivan’s brothers find the stallions and steal them, but the weird little horse (the titular Double-Hump), tells Ivan what happened. Ivan catches up to his brothers on the road to the city. When he spots a firebird, he picks up one of its feathers, even though Double-Hump warns that it will lead to trouble. Ivan sells the stallions to the tsar for far less than they’re worth, and winds up with a job in the tsar’s stables because the stallions won’t let anyone else touch them.
Soviet stamp (1988) based on the 1975 animated film

Being an unreasonable sort of person, once the tsar learns about Ivan’s firebird feather, he gives Ivan a few days to find him a firebird...or else. After saying, “I told you so,” Double-Hump explains exactly how to do it. One firebird later, the tsar now sends Ivan to kidnap the Heavenly Princess (the daughter of the moon) or else be skinned alive. Double-Hump also explains how to do this too, and luckily, the one thing Ivan is good at is following directions (well, except for that one time with the feather).

One kidnapped demigod later, the tsar wants to marry the princess. The princess wants to put him through a test involving a cauldron of boiling water, a cauldron of boiling milk, and a cauldron of freezing water. The tsar is scared to do this himself, and makes Ivan do it first. Fortunately, Double-Hump helps out and Ivan springs out of the boiling cauldron looking gorgeous and with perfect hair. Seeing this, the tsar leaps into the cauldrons and promptly gets boiled to death. Ivan marries the princess and they inherit the tsar’s kingdom for some reason. I’m pretty sure Double-Hump makes all the decisions for that kingdom now.

This book is a slim little thing and no two illustrations share the same style. Each piece of art is by a different Russian artist, all originally printed on postcards. You might think the lack of continuity between the styles would be jarring, but I found it fascinating. It really reflects the evolution of a fairy tale’s shape that happen over the years. Think about Little Red Riding Hood. Sometimes everybody dies, but other times everybody lives except the wolf. It’s really neat to see so many different interpretations of the characters in this story. No matter what the illustration, though, Double-Hump is the most adorable creature you’ve ever seen.

This is definitely a book that bridges the gap between children and adults. With all the pictures and a relatively short length, it could easily be read aloud to the youngest set. Adult fans of folklore will appreciate the touch of the venerable fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes.

I personally adored the character of Double-Hump. Ivan is a sweet fool, but he would be dead by the end of part one without Double-Hump. Every idiot hero in a fairy tale needs a wise advisor to guide them. It’s even better when the advice-giver is an adorable talking animal. I would give this horse so many sugar lumps (or whatever his favorite treat is) and then ask him for relationship advice.

For more information, visit the book's page on the University of Minnesota Press' website HERE

NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the reviewer in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Arabian Nights Series Part 2: Burton Vs Lyons Translation Throwdown

(Written by Timeless Tales Magazine Editor Tahlia Merrill Kirk)

This is Part 2 of a series about reading Tales of 1001 Nights. To start at the beginning of the series, click HERE.

Your Arabian Nights Quote of the Day:

I asked an old man walking with his beard down to his knees: “Why are you so bent?” He waved his hands at me. “My youth was lost on the ground,” he said, “And I am bending down to look for it.

- Malcolm C. Lyons. The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: Volume 1. Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Lyons' 2008 Translation

Since the complete unabridged Arabian Nights is around 2,600 pages (the notoriously long War and Peace is only around 1,225 pages), the circle of people who have read the entire thing is relatively small. But there’s always one question that pops ups first when you meet the rare member of this club: What translation are you reading?

For a long time, there was only one option if you wanted a complete unabridged translation. There are dozens of partial or abridged compilations, many heavily edited to take out the sexual content and insert Christian morals. The first to successfully tackle the entire collection was Sir Richard Francis Burton. His 1885 edition stood alone in this category for over a hundred years until Malcolm C. and Ursula Lyons published their Penguin Classic edition in 2008. Considering how long it takes to simply read the full collection, can you imagine being the person who painstakingly converts each page from Arabic to English? The thought blows my mind.

Sir Richard Burton
Photograph by Rischgitz/Getty Images
Burton’s version is beloved for its grandiose language and extensive footnotes that provide insight into Middle Eastern culture. He deliberately crafted his writing style to evoke epic literature by Medieval and Elizabethan writers like Chaucer and Shakespeare. But perhaps what Burton fans admire most about his work is its authenticity. All those footnotes came about during his many years living in the Middle East, so much of his research stems from firsthand accounts.
It’s impossible not to indulge in a small detour about the colorful character of Burton himself. His thirst for adventure led him into plenty of dangerous situations. He infamously disguised himself as a Muslim to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, going so far as to become circumcised to avoid discovery. He was once on an expedition that got attacked by Somali warriors and survived being impaled by a javelin through both cheeks. He immersed himself in every culture he visited and mastered over 26 languages. This larger than life legacy undoubtedly contributes to the continuing popularity of his books. There’s something extra exciting about reading a version of Arabian Nights knowing that the author was a real life Indiana Jones.

And after all that buildup, I will now break the news that Ron did not read Burton’s translation. He read the newer Lyons’ version. Sure, Malcolm and Ursula don’t have any stories on their Wikipedia page about being chased out of town on horseback by 300 soldiers--wait, let's give them the benefit of the doubt--I'll fact check that before I make such a broad generalization…
Guys, neither Ursula nor Malcolm have a Wikipedia page. This is tragic! And makes for boring blogging! Their Goodreads pages lead me to believe that The Arabian Nights is probably their lives’ magnum opus. I'll just imagine some amazing romance that brought this couple together in their joint quest to rebirth this great epic book…

Okay, joking aside, the Lyons version of Arabian Nights actually has a lot going for it. Think of Burton’s version as the King James Version of the Bible and the Lyons’ translation as NIV. Lots of people love KJV for its beautiful evocative language that is steeped in tradition and history. But others prefer NIV for being straightforward and easier to understand. It’s the same with Arabian Nights. Burton has a tendency towards rambling and flowery language, using “thee”s and “thou”s to evoke an archaic tone. He deliberately chooses obscure words, using Latin whenever the chance arises. My incredibly well read friend Adam enthused about how many new words he learned from Burton’s text. Constantly googling words is fun for some, but cumbersome for others. The Lyons, on the other hand, take a more grounded approach. They aim for clarity and a smooth effortless reading experience. You’ll never lose the train of thought or get exhausted after reading one tale. Some might argue that the Lyons version lacks pizzazz, but others would say that they allow the words to speak for themselves. 

If you want a more detailed comparison The Guardian wrote this amazing post about the two editions. It even has two side-by-side examples of how drastically different they are. 

If anyone knows how to get in touch with the Lyons, I would love to interview them about the translation process and what their goals were in creating this new edition. 

For those who are interested, here's a link to the Penguin Classics Volume 1-3 that Ron read:

Next up in this blog series: Is Arabian Nights Super Sexist? Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Review of "The Hawkman", a Retelling of Grimm's "Bearskin"

“In France and Germany, the protagonist is a veteran, starving for lack of work after the war; in Italy, he is a woodsman, wounded by an accident inherent in his profession.  In Spain, he is a pirate, shipwrecked after a poorly deliberated decision. In all places, he is a man who has lost his faith in God, and makes no secret of his apostasy.”

– Miss Eva Williams, “The Hawkman.”

After finishing Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s The Hawkman, I find myself still enamored by her lyrical prose, sifting through words to determine if what I read had really been written. Surely an ending so powerful could not exist?  Of course, it does.

As a retelling of the lesser known Grimm story Bearskin, here’s a quick summary of the fairy tale for those not already familiar: A desperate man makes a pact with the devil. If he can avoid bathing or praying for seven years and sleeps in a bearskin, then the devil will give him limitless wealth. Instead of the disaster you’d expect from such a bargain, the man’s kindness and generosity ultimately win him a bride and, once the seven years are up, they live happily ever after...except for the bride’s two sisters. Since they originally shunned our hero, they are later so full of regret that they kill themselves, netting the devil two souls and making him feel like the winner of the arrangement. Basically, it’s a monstrous bridegroom story, but steps away from tradition by using the man’s perspective instead of the woman’s.  

LaForge’s novel sets this fairy tale during World War I. Michael is an Irish prisoner of war who has been held in German work camps for years. He is finally coming out the other side, but is a broken shell of a man. He falls into himself, withdrawing from a society that shuns him, until he builds the persona of the Hawkman around himself.  When he first meets Miss Eva Williams, he is more beast than human. She brings him back to her cottage in Bridgetonne, England in hopes of helping him heal. Eva is a professor, an American, a writer, and a believer in the fantastical. Much like the bride from the fairy tale, when she sees the Hawkman, she is able to see the man beneath the creature.

What draws you in - aside from the lyricism of the writing itself - is the idea that this story starts with a death. Though, when you think about it, aren’t the greatest love stories those that are actually tragedies in disguise? Whether it be the lovers themselves, or the villain, or even a friend, we find that love and death are often inextricably entwined. This story’s death forces the reader to backpedal and unpack while gripping our seat the entire time. We hope that maybe things will change or that all is not what it seems.  But, of course, it is.

As the story progresses, its layers are slowly peeled back. The town of Bridgetonne takes on a life of its own, as described by the Hawkman’s first encounter with it:

“Bridgetonne was not without other misfits: old maids who, in an earlier time, might have been mistaken for witches, and bachelors who, likewise, would have been called out as warlocks.  But by no means was the village haunted.”

It soon becomes clear that there is more than one transformation in this novel. The town itself shifts from loathing the Hawkman and fearing his presence--even writing him off as a degenerate due to his heritage and situation--to respecting him and taking him in so that he will always have a home. Of course, as the original fairy tale suggests, the devil does indeed take two souls for himself.  For, even though each person the Hawkman touches is changed, there is always one who will be against him. And as he changes into something more man than not, it is as if his transformation causes a change within Miss Williams. She slowly shifts from caretaker, to friend, to lover, and finally to something more in the end.

This novel is a story of love and of overcoming social norms. It is a story of magical realism, of hope and loss, and a story of overcoming trauma. All this is wrapped tightly into a ball and leveled out into a complete journey filled with pain and joy. But, most importantly, it is a story about two people from different backgrounds finding themselves being pieced together until they fit like perfectly aligned puzzle pieces. And when you zoom out to see how these two pieces connect with the other interlocking elements inside the novel, you’ll see how they form a work of art. Much like a painting, this novel rewards those who take the time to contemplate its brush strokes and hold onto its memory even when you walk away.

For fans of beautifully written fairy tales where the language bleeds magic onto the pages like Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and those who enjoy a heartbreaking story about war and the consequences it has on the human soul, The Hawkman will be sure to capture and enrapture, and, when it is done, leave you craving more.

Laura Lavelle is a writer from Queens, New York, working in the genres of fantasy, horror, and science fiction with young and new adult themes.  She studied English at Queens College where she won a Silverstein-Peiser award in Fiction before graduating with her bachelor’s degree. However, when she’s not writing she can be found curled up with a book and a cat, hoping that something magical will happen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

First Impressions of 1001 Tales of Arabian Nights

(Written by Tahlia Merrill Kirk, editor of Timeless Tales Magazine)

A few years ago, my husband Ron delighted me with the news that he had started reading Tales of 1,001 Nights (aka Arabian Nights) on his Kindle.

“This is great!” I squeed. “I’ve never read it, so you can tell me all about it as you go!”

I suppose I should be at least a tad embarrassed that I have zero desire to read the entirety of Arabian Nights, but have you seen the SIZE of it?! There are three volumes. All combined, they add up to a staggering 2600 pages. There isn’t even a Sparknotes available for it, that’s how big it is. So I ignore the mournful wails of my English degree--secondhand reading is good enough for me on this one.

It took him almost 5 years to get through it all (taking breaks to read other books, of course), but this week, he finally finished. Since I immediately knew that I wanted to turn this experience into a blog post, I made sure that Ron filled me in about all the interesting parts of the stories. I even had him send me relevant/funny quotes as he went.

I started writing this as one post, but there is too much to say, so we’re going to make a whole series out of it! Here are a few topics I want to cover (Let me know if there's something you really want me to discuss):

1. Which Translation Did Ron Read? (I promise it won't be as boring as it sounds)

2. Is Arabian Nights Sexist? 

3. Is Arabian Nights Sexy? 

4. How Does Aladdin Fit Into Arabian Nights?

5. Djinn and Their Kind (or not-so-kind...hehe)

6. Religion in Arabian Nights

7. The Arabian Nights Board Game

8. Doughnuts (Nope, won’t explain. Saving the best for last)

In the meantime, here’s a funny mini-tale to give you a taste of how great these stories are:

My master the sultan, here is my most remarkable experience during my time in office. I had ten thieves hanged, each on a gibbet of his own, and I told the guards to watch to see that nobody removed any of the corpses. The next day, when I came to look at them, I found two corpses hanging from the same gibbet.

‘Who has done this,’ I asked the guards, ‘and where is the gibbet belonging to this second corpse?’

They disclaimed any knowledge of the affair, but when I was about to have them flogged, they said: ‘We fell asleep last night, emir, and when we woke up we found that one of the corpses, together with its gibbet, had been stolen. We were afraid, and when we saw a passing peasant coming up towards us with his donkey, we seized him, killed him and hanged him on this gibbet in place of the corpse that had been removed.’

I was taken by surprise and asked them what the peasant had had with him. They told me that he had had a saddlebag on his donkey, and when I asked what was in it they said that they didn’t know.
‘Bring it to me,’ I told them, and when they did, I ordered them to open it. There inside it was the body of a murdered man cut into pieces. I was astonished at this sight and said to myself: ‘Glory be to God. The reason that this peasant was hanged was that he was guilty of murder, and God does not treat His servants unjustly.’

Malcolm C. Lyons. The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: Volume 2 (The Arabian Nights or Tales from 1001 Nights) (pp. 107-108). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Timeless Tales Releases Snow White Story Collection

The wait is over! Timeless Tales Magazine is proud to present eleven transformative twists on Snow White. From darkly haunting to funny and fluffy, there's something for everyone in this issue. Read the entire collection HERE

Something new we're trying out this time is the inclusion of a custom Spotify playlist to accompany your reading experience. Think of it as a mixtape of music inspired by all the stories and poems. I'd really love feedback on whether our readers love this feature or are indifferent because it's something we could incorporate into future collections if it's popular enough. 

Here are a few highlights showcasing how our writers reinvented this famous fairy tale:

  • "The Mirrors and the Poison" - A mystery based on actual historical events. Readers are transported to the court of Versailles in 17th Century France. Did the Sun King’s mistress poison her younger rival at court?
  • “Blanche” - In this modernization, a struggling single mom loves her daughter fiercely, but the rest of the world can only see her mistakes. 
  • "The Fairest" - After years of suffering her stepmother's abuse, there's a new fairest in the land. Snow is determined to protect him (yes, him!), but how far will she go to keep him safe?
  • "The Mug & Spoon" - Every year, dozens of nobles try to awaken the sleeping princess at remote Mug & Spoon tavern. Little do they know that the entire town is involved in an elaborate scheme to marry the local girls off to rich husbands. 
And MANY more delightful stories await you in this issue. In case you need more incentive to check it out, here's a sneak peek at some of the covers:

Well, what are you waiting for? Snow White awaits! Let us know which is your favorite! 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

2018 Australian Fairy Tale Society Conference on June 10th Is Garden Themed! (And Being Held at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney)

Have you ever wondered about the herbs, flowers or seeds that turn up in fairy tales? Would you like to learn more about the symbolism or practical uses of plants over the centuries? Is grass really greener on the other side of a fairy fence? How about a little shade with your sunshine?Welcome to the 2018 AFTS 5th Annual Fairy Tale Conference
‘Gardens of Good & Evil: Growing Life, Plucking Death.’ 
What is it? 5th annual national conference of the Australian Fairy Tale Society 
When is it? Sunday 10th June, 2018 
Where is it? Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney (NSW, Australia) 
Who is the Keynote Speaker this year? Bestselling author, scholar and storyteller Kate Forsyth. 
Who can attend? Anyone who is a fairy tale enthusiast! Our conference generally appeals to writers, illustrators, publishers, storytellers, academics, budding scholars and many other disciplines manifested by enthusiasts of fairy tales. 
What AFTS specific items are included on the conference agenda? 
  • Annual AGM  
  • AFTS communal quilt project 
  • 2018 Australian Fairy Tale Society Award Presentation (which honours a person who has significantly contributed to Australian fairy tales, through literature, academia, art, or performances. Nominees for this year’s award include authors Dr Kate Forsyth and Kevin Price, and Australian fairy tale expert Dr Robyn Floyd.)  
  • Milestone Membership Celebration  
What is the cost? There are two parts to the conference this year! A free-to-public segment with the registered guest conference presentations following. 
         Free-to-public segment noon-2pm is free. 
         It is interactive and family-friendly, featuring a fairy tale garden tour, puppet show with Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre, presentation on ‘The Language of Flowers’ and storytelling with Thrive Story. [PSSST! Come in costume - we dare you! Fairies love giving prizes for magical things like the maddest hat, most abundant garland, leafiest cloak and jumpiest boots!]
         Remainder of conference (9am to noon + 2pm - 5:15pm) is for registered guests:
$95 Full Price
$85 AFTS Member Discount conference + membership
Registration for Conference ONLY:
$65 AFTS Member Discount conference only
$85 Friends of Royal Botanic Garden, or Students
Botanical explorer, natural history author and artist
Cheralyn Darcy will talk to us about the
'Language of Flowers in Fairy Tales'.

Dr. Kate Forsyth (Scholar, storyteller, international bestselling author & 2018 Keynote Speaker): “Edward Burne-Jones’s obsession with ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and the motif of the rose”
Her novel Beauty in Thorns is the story of Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones’s obsession with the Sleeping Beauty fairy-tale and the symbolic meaning of flowers, e.g. the wild rose in ‘The Legend of Briar Rose’. Kate is one of Australia’s best-known writers, with over a million copies sold around the world. Later in the day, Kate will perform the tale of Katie Crackernuts.

Robyn Floyd, Phillippa Adgemis, Christine Shiel: “A garden always has a point.” (Elizabeth Hoyt, The Raven Prince)
What is the point of the garden, the bush, the landscape in folktales? Follow Christine, Robyn and Phillippa down a wonderland ‘rabbit hole’ as they explore the impact of transplanting traditional tales into new natural environments: the garden, the bush, the island. They'll present a dialogue (trialogue?) that questions the effect of various natural settings on mannerisms, behaviour and appearance of characters in retold/ adapted fairy tales and mythologies.

What if this small press shifted its focus to
forgotten tales from folklore and fairy-tale retellings?
Monique Mulligan, Editorial Director of
tells a story of serendipity and shares upcoming projects.
Graham Ross (Storyteller & Historian):  “The Australian Fairy Tale Princess” - the story of a nameless Australian Princess, orally performed (not read).
It is intended to be historically allusive, yet told in a fairy tale genre (i.e. palace, royal garden, fairy godparents, magic), and aims to deepen interest in the life and work of the Australian painter Ellis Rowan (1848-1922). Graham has been telling stories in an oral tradition for many years, sometimes under the auspices of the local chapter of Storytelling Australia (SA). He is President of this chapter and convenor of the Fairy Ring in South Australia. He comes from an eclectic background of psychology, teacher education and performing arts.

Natalie Phillips (Postgraduate Student): “Fairy Tale Rings”
The fairy ring is an intriguing natural phenomenon. Scientifically it is the result of mycelium (fungal threads) absorbing nutrients in the soil, which present as a ring of darker grass, or dead grass, or mushrooms (Rutter 60). Its presence in folklore is more convoluted. It can mean a trap, luring unsuspecting mortals; or a portal to a magical world, protection or fortune. This academic paper explores the fairy ring in folktales, art and literature. It will break down elements intrinsic to this phenomenon — magical, scientific, symbolic — to explain why the fairy ring captivates imaginations. [Rutter, Gordon. “Fairy Rings”. Field Mycology 3.2 (2002): 56-60. ScienceDirect. Web. 15 Jan. 2018.] Natalie is a doctoral candidate with the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University. Her thesis focuses on symbols and personifications of death in literature.

What is the point of the garden, the bush, the landscape
in folktales? Christine, Robyn and Phillippa explore the
impact of transplanting traditional tales into new
natural environments: the garden, the bush, the island.
Helen Hopcroft (Manager of Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre): “Rapunzel and Spinach”
FFFTT is a portable puppet theatre in Maitland, telling traditional fairy tales in new ways for contemporary families. All their puppets, stories, costumes and props are handmade, loosely based on the Queen’s Theatre at Versailles. Plays are between 5-20 minutes, appealing to children aged 4-10 years. With a crew of six including a storyteller, MC and sound technician, it’ll take you on a magical journey into imagination! Helen has a PhD in English & Writing at the University of Newcastle, focusing on the Arabian Nights and Western- European fairy tales. She’s co-published an article in Marvels & Tales.

Cheralyn Darcey (Botanical Explorer, Natural History Author and Artist): “The Language of Flowers
in Fairy Tales”
Thumbelina was born in a Tulip. In the Language of Flowers, this blossom speaks of
desires, yet warns of being swept away with inclinations of others. Keeping the language of flowers alive is an oral folklore tradition for learning plant usage for food, building materials, rituals, medicine and creativity along with growing cycles or dangers of poisons, illustrating concepts to advance happy, healthy, sociable lives. We’ll explore the botanical history of flowers, their meanings and how they relate to Fairy Tales. Cheralyn Darcey is a botanical explorer, organic gardener and internationally published author and illustrator of titles focused on the enthnobotanical qualities of plants, especially flowers. She has a regular segment on ABC Radio, ‘Flower of the Fortnight’.

Morgan Bell will teach us how to Interpret Evil Plants.
'Sproutlings: A Compendium of Little Fictions' constructs new
plant-based fables and folklore; and anthropomorphising botanical malice.
Liz Locksley (founding Storyteller of Thrive Story): “Goblin’s Gold”: a storytelling experience
A fragment of Goblin’s Gold, is snatched from behind a wizard in a cave on the wooded escarpment of
Alderley Edge. In it lives a resilient Tardigrade, one of Planet Earth's most tenacious creatures, likely to outlive all our anthropogenic catastrophes. Hear the tale of a lifelong quest, of Goblin’s Gold and the Tardigrade. Goblins’ Gold, also called Schistostega pennata and luminescent moss, is known for glowing and growing in dark places. Unlike any other moss, the Tardigrade, or Water Bear, is perhaps the most resilient creature on Earth. It can survive a wide range of temperatures and environments, perhaps even a cosmic catastrophe. Liz Locksley is founder of Thrive Story exploring narratives about love for life that works creatively with complexity, conflict and upheaval.

Morgan Bell (Writer): “Interpreting Evil Plants” (discussion, book launch)
In 2016 Morgan published an anthology Sproutlings: A Compendium of Little Fictions. She asked authors to write flash fiction on the theme of wicked weeds. They interpreted the challenge referencing Greek, Cornish, and Welsh myths; constructing new plant-based fables and folklore; and anthropomorphising botanical malice. The anthology compares these new works to classics from Poe, Lawson, Orwell, Lawrence, Wells, Alcott, and Wilde. Morgan Bell is an author and editor. Her works include Sniggerless Boundulations, Laissez Faire and Sproutlings. She is a technical writer, member of the Newcastle Shakespeare Society, and teacher of creative writing at U3A. Her story ‘Midnight Daisy’ was awarded a Story Commendation by the She: True Stories project, with readings on 1233 ABC Newcastle and 2014 Newcastle Writers Festival. She has written many other award-winning stories.

Natalie Phillips' academic paper will explore the
use of the fairy ring in selected folktales, art,
and literature. It will break down key elements intrinsic
to this phenomenon — the magical, the scientific, and the symbolic.
Marianna Shek and Leila Honari (author & illustrator respectively): “The Silk Road - Cultivating a Hybrid Garden”
The creative journey behind The Stolen Button picture book, a fairy tale on the Silk Road. They will discuss development behind the book with themes of migration, displacement and multicultural stories in an Australian landscape. The Silk Road is a hybrid garden, a space to portray an exotic other, where wands, dragons and goblins mingle with nagas, djinns and huli jings. This Q&A leads to an exhibition of Leila Honari’s art. Leila and Marianna worked on The Stolen Button while teaching and completing PhDs in the animation dept at Griffith Film School. Marianna is a transmedia writer working with non-linear narratives. Her latest work If The Shoe Fits won first place in the 2017 Conflux Short Story comp. She has forthcoming works in anthologies by Tiny Owl Workshop. Leila’s research investigates the mandala structure of Persian mystical stories. Her projected installation Farsh-e-Parandeh (Flying Carpet) is available for exhibitions.

Monique Mulligan, Lorena Carrington & Kate Forsyth
tell the story behind the creation of
Vasilisa the Wise & Other Tales of Brave Young Women
at this year's conference.
Monique Mulligan (Editorial Director of Serenity Press): “Growing beautiful stories: Keeping the
flame alive”
Serenity Press is an independent publisher now focussing on folklore, fairy-tale retellings and original fairy tales, keeping traditional stories and storytelling alive by fostering understanding and
enjoyment of folklore, fairy tales and myth. An editor, author, founder of the Stories on Stage programme in Perth and journalist, Monique published Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women in 2017, feminist fairy-tales retold by Kate Forsyth, illustrated by Lorena Carrington*. These tales of female courage and cleverness, an antidote to the assumption that classic fairy-tales feature passive princesses. Set in forests, secret gardens and wild seashores, they contain motifs inspired by nature – a doll made of wood, a hazel- twig wand, roses, a silver castle hanging from oak trees, a wooden flute that summons a griffin, primarily created out of detritus from forest floors – leaves, bones, moss, twigs, seeds, mushrooms.

*Exhibitors include several visual artists, among them one of our panelists Lorena Carrington, a photographic artist and illustrator with an interest in lost and forgotten fairy tales. Her work delves deeply into themes around life and death, good and evil, created from her garden and surrounding landscape. Other exhibitors or participating visual artists include Debra Phillips, Erin-Claire Barrow and Spike Deane.

Considering the garden location of the conference chosen for this year's theme, are there any venue specific presentations? Yes! From noon to 2pm, various venues will host free events focusing on the conference’s theme. These include presentations exploring the relationship between nature and magic within the Australian landscape. The diverse program offers activities for all-ages such as puppetry by Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre, garden tours, and an interactive presentation on ‘The Language of Flowers in Fairy Tales’. The enchanting Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney will be host to bookstalls, exhibitions, and a quilting display with a fairy tale motif, handcrafted by members of fairy rings from various states and territories. Conference presentations (papers, performances, panels & more) follows for registered guests. 

The Australian Fairy Tale Society is a national not-for-profit community of writers,
academics, artists, and performers dedicated to exploring, reinterpreting, and creating fairy tales through Australian perspectives. 

It’s $25 to join the Australian Fairy Tale Society. Annual membership benefits include free
participation in fairy tale rings, exclusive access to our Ezine, Reading Refs and Points to Ponder,
discounts, participation in creative projects or contests, and networking with fairy tale enthusiasts in
a highly interdisciplinary, intergenerational, intercultural, inclusive ethos. Welcome!

To register or become a member:
Official website:
NOTE: All official graphics for the 2018 AFTS Conference (seen here) were created by the talented Spike Deane!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Theater: 'The Salonniéres' Premieres In Fall This Year (Greater Boston Stage Company)

Poster by J. Weston Lewis

Doesn't this poster look amazing?! Fairy tale writers, storytellers and revolutionaries make for a great lens to view this period in history and we're guessing d'Aulnoy will feature... (please let it be so!) What a wonderful concept for a play. (We can't believe this is the first we've heard of this play from 2015!) The conversations and storytelling in a fairy tale salon, layered with all the social and political intrigue and chaos of the time, would be fascinating to watch. We wish we were local to check this out. 
Here's the info:
October 25-November 11, 2018

World Premiere
by Liz Duffy Adams
Directed by Weylin Symes
In pre-Revolutionary Paris, a young girl is promised in marriage to a Duke to pay off her father’s debts. She flees to the literary salon of her late mother’s friends: aristocratic women who conceal radical politics within reinvented folk tales. Which of them is her fairy godmother, and which the cruel stepmother? Is the Duke a Prince Charming or a Beast? And is the maid just a maid, or the hero of a story none of them knows they are in?

Here's a different description from New Plays Exchange (where the GBSC found the play!):
The Salonniéres  
Cast: 5
Genre: comedy, drama, period, political
Keyword: revolution, feminism, Fairy Tales, France, strong female leads 
In pre-Revolutionary Paris, Madeleine, a girl fresh from the convent, is promised in marriage to an older nobleman to pay off her father’s debts. She flees to the literary salon of her late mother’s friends, aristocratic women who conceal radical politics within reinvented folk tales. When her promised husband shows up too, the women must use their wits to save Madeleine. But in the end, the maid Françoise is revealed as the real hero of a story they didn’t realize they were in.
And the recommendations from New Plays Exchange (NPX):
  • Jordan Elizabeth Henry:
    29 Apr. 2018 This wonderful period piece blew me away with its accessibility, its honoring of story, its depth of character, its crazy-high stakes, and its charm. The ending made me want to stand up and shout; I had fiery grateful feminist tears in my eyes. THE SALONNIERES is full of humor, horror, and badass women. I'm obsessed.  
    Kristen Palmer:
    22 Oct. 2017 This play is so sharp. I got to hear it read recently and it soared off the page and into my head. It's a wonderful play for the moment - and puts the male canon firmly into the hands of the too long over looked women of its era - with the revolution rumbling just outside the door. 
This is one play we'll be watching for reviews of. (And if you're in Boston and want to go in exchange for a review, please let us know. We might be able to help you get there...) 
Check out the 2018/2019 season line-up at The Greater Boston Stage Company HERE.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Jack Zipes: "Speaking the Truth with Fairy Tales" FREE Seminar Tonight (May 24, 2018) at Goldsmiths University London!

"The faithful giant could think of nothing better to do than to set the carriage on his head."
Illustration from "Poucinet" (Finnish) from Last Fairy Tales by Édouard Laboulaye, Mary Louise Booth

Jack Zipes: Speaking the Truth with Fairy Tales
Introduced and chaired by Professor Michael Rosen
"Our fondness for fairy tales, their popularity in all social classes, stems from their profound truths that can be glimpsed from the diverse human conflicts depicted in the narratives and the insistence on social justice. They attract us because they contain what we lack: social justice and characters who struggle and demand to live in truth. In many ways, fairy tales with their metaphorical allusions are more truthful than so-called realistic stories because they are generally endowed with a sense of social justice that we do not find in our societies. The formation of the genre fairy tale is predicated on the collusion and cooperation of people from different social classes and backgrounds and the retelling, and rewriting of tales that are ageless and relevant to people’s lives.  
"In my own work, almost from the very beginning of my research, I developed a strong predisposition to discover and preserve the works of neglected writers and storytellers who have sought to pierce the spectacles and illusions created by the reigning forces of culture in their respective countries. To my mind, these writers and storytellers have offered alternative ways of thinking with fairy tales that have excited me and given me the courage to try to live and work in truth. Most recently I have encountered three nineteenth and early twentieth-century European authors whose works address present-day conflicts and demand that we rethink how to deal with tyranny that has raised its ugly head in too many places in today’s world. Their truths are at the center of my talk."
Details to attend the FREE event are HERE


Thu 24 May 2018
5:30pm - 8:00pm BST
The time slot includes the talk, questions and a drinks reception


Goldsmiths, University of London
8 Lewisham Way (LG02 PSH)
London SE14 6NW
United Kingdom

Jack Zipes is Professor Emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. Some of his recent publications include: Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre (2006), Relentless Progress: The Reconfiguration of Children's Literature, Fairy Tales, and Storytelling (2008), The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films (2010), The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre (2012), The Golden Age of Folk and Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to Andrew Lang (2013), and Grimm Legacies: The Magic Power of Fairy Tales (2014). He has also translated the first 1812/15 edition of the Grimms' tales, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (2014), and Giuseppe Pitrè’s, Caterina the Wise and Other Wondrous Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales (2017). Most recently he has published The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Anthology of Magical Tales, (2017) and Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards (2017).