Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Guest post: Why does a man write fairy tale retellings? by Jim C. Hines

Today's guest is even more special due to the simple fact that he is a man writing fairy tale retellings! Yes, Jim C. Hines has his own fairy tale series, which differ greatly from the usual tales which have simpering weak princesses as heroines, when in Jim's book Sleeping Beauty is a kickass ninja! So read on to discover a completely different and original take on our beloved tales and get a glimpse of the modern fairy tales as told by Jim C. Hines!

Why does a man write fairy tale retellings?
by Jim C. Hines
The Stepsister Scheme (PRINCESS NOVELS)I started writing The Stepsister Scheme, the first book of my princess series, back in 2005.

It was my daughter’s fault. She was going through a princess phase, and our house had been taken over by princess-themed movies and merchandise. We watched princess movies from Disney and Barbie and other companies, read princess stories, then tucked her into bed in her princess jammies, beneath princess sheets.

The movies were a mixed bag. Some were the traditional damsel-in-distress, waiting to be rescued by her prince. Others allowed the fairy tale heroine to take a more active role in her story . . . but it was the merchandise that pushed me over the edge. Endless images of pretty, posed, "perfect" princesses.

Red Hood's Revenge (PRINCESS NOVELS)I wanted to give my daughter an alternate take on fairy tale princesses, one which put them squarely in charge of their own stories. I wanted to show that strong women came in many different varieties, from the fighter (my version of Sleeping Beauty is a kick-ass ninja) to the sexy and playful (Snow White, witch and flirt) to the quieter, family-oriented strength (Cinderella) to the older wisdom of Queen Beatrice.

I wanted to explore the myth of happy ever after, because while stories sometimes have a nice, neat ending, life rarely does. What happened after Cinderella’s wedding? What became of Snow White after her mother danced to death in red-hot iron shoes? What about poor Sleeping Beauty, awakened (in some versions of the story) while giving birth to twin children, fathered by a stranger?

The Mermaid's Madness (PRINCESS NOVELS)There’s some serious stuff here. Some dark stuff. But then, that’s been true of fairy tales from the beginning. Stories are serious business. Wander from the path, and you’re likely to get eaten by a wolf. Abuse your step-daughter, and you’ll end up with your eyes pecked out by birds.

I refused to ignore or cover up the darker parts of those fairy tales, but I also wanted my stories to be fun to read. I wanted action and adventure and fencing and fighting and a bit of romance. And also a goblin. I’ve got a soft spot for goblins.

The Snow Queen's Shadow (PRINCESS NOVELS)And now, suddenly it’s 2011. The fourth and final book in the series, The Snow Queen’s Shadow, comes out on July 5. I’m afraid my daughter still hasn’t read the books . . . turns out she’s not really into that fantasy stuff. Go figure. But I’m very proud of what I've done with the series.

Fairy tales are some of the most universal stories in our culture, and I love that I’ve been able to participate in that ongoing conversation.


Jim C. Hines has spent the past fourteen years living with a trio of magic cats. There's the black cat who watches over his kids, sounding the alarm at the slightest danger. The beautiful longhair, clearly a princess in disguise, announcing herself to all who enter her domain. And then there's the warrior, the spunky three-legged cat who duels with dragons, or would if any dared show up. (He keeps his fighting skills sharp by defending his home from the evil dogs.) Jim is fairly certain they sneak out to have adventures while he's at work. It's the only explanation he can come up with for the gnome hat one of 'em hocked up in the middle of the basement the other day.

And a couple of places where you can find Jim and his books:

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