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).

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Editor Rejects Her Own Story (Timeless Tales Magazine)

Written by Tahlia Merrill Kirk (Editor of Timeless Tales Magazine)

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a guest blog post over at JL Writers about all the challenges writers face when retelling Snow White. It basically summarized the biggest problems I've run into while reading submissions for our upcoming issue. But let's be honest: It's easy to spot weaknesses in a story--it's a whole different ball game having to actually write a retelling that avoids these pitfalls.

In the interest of keeping myself humble, I dusted off an old Snow White retelling that I wrote 10 years ago when I was a freshman in college. My initial thought before re-reading it was that I would insert it into our 5-year Anniversary issue as a bonus story, but now I'm not so sure. It's a perfectly nice story--a Snow White/Psyche & Cupid crossover, in fact. But it has enough problems that I can't just pop it into the magazine without revising it first.

So I thought I'd pretend that this is a story I received in my submissions inbox and use it as an example of how I analyze a retelling. Feel free to play along and leave comments with your own feedback or suggestions on how I should revise it! 

Note: I apologize that the resolution on these images isn't crystal clear. I spent two days fighting with my computer and this was the best I could manage. If you'd rather read it as a high res PDF, here's a link.



Alright, still with us? So if I received this story in my inbox, I would probably give it a 7 out of 10 rating, which means it would be guaranteed a second read later down the line. 8's and 9's are my "Almost Definitely Yes" pile and 6's and 7's are my "Right on the Edge" pile. When I circle back to it, I'd spend a lot of time agonizing over whether the pros outweigh the cons. Do I have a clear idea about how to explain the changes I would want made to the writer? Are those changes likely to be welcomed by the writer or will it take their story in a direction they might be unhappy about? How does this story fit with the others I want to accept? Does it have a similar tone/setting/perspective from what I've already accepted or does it fill an obvious gap? Let's imagine that my conclusion is to reject this story. Despite all the notes I've made, this is all that makes it into my rejection letter:

Dear Tahlia,
Thank you for submitting your ​Snow White ​retelling to Timeless Tales. After reading it and carefully considering, we will not be publishing it. However, I really enjoyed your unique premise (Psyche is my favorite Greek myth!). Although your writing style is strong, I felt like your protagonist Vanessa was underdeveloped and the romance was mostly told from Eros' perspective. I wanted to see more of her personality and agency come through.

Best of luck to you finding a home for it elsewhere and thank you so much for sending it our way. We certainly encourage you to submit for our next issue.

Our next theme is still TBD, but we often decide themes by letting our readers vote. To be notified when polls open for our next theme, subscribe to our newsletter via our homepage.​The newsletter will also send you occasional Timeless Tales updates and information about submission window​s​.
Thank you so much!
          ​Tahlia Merrill Kirk
         Editor of Timeless Tales Magazine

And that's how it's done, folks. Now you know why it takes me fricken' forever to go through my submission pile every issue. The time I'll spend jotting down notes on each submission varies, but this level of detail isn't unheard of when I'm feeling conflicted about a story.

Do you agree with my assessment? Am I being too hard on myself? Not hard enough? Did I miss something? Only time will tell if I end up finding a way to revise this story (I have a few ideas rattling around). Be sure to check the Table of Contents when you read our Snow White issue (coming soon!). Even if I don't, though, I promise the ten pieces we're publishing are all AMAZING and will blow your mind with their twists on this fairy tale.