Several years ago, I travelled to my childhood home in the Czech Republic and raided my bookshelves in hopes of loading my treasures into a suitcase and bringing them with me to California. It was then that I re-discovered my first love. One by one, I took out my many books of fairy tales and leafed through them, inhaling the scent of pleasant memories, nostalgia, and a bit of dust. Then it hit me. What happened to the genre? Disney has managed to obliterate everything that fairy tales stood for by patching them up into a nice and neat happy ending, and the contemporary authors who claim to love them have fractured them, in the literary sense, either twisting them upside down and inside out or setting them into modern day environments.
This sorrowful realization spread through my body and evoked actual physical pain. Three "F" words escaped my lips in a throaty cry: "Fairy tales, Folktales, Fables!" That was the day I set out on a journey of saving them, their magic, and their monsters!
I started a Once Upon a Time… series that returns to authentic storytelling, dark settings, stark characters, and the not always happy, yet very satisfying endings that work with the content. While I draw inspiration from folklore, my plots are original and don’t focus on the damsel in distress who ought to be saved by a knight on a white steed. I don’t draw a clear line dividing the good characters from the monstrous ones, for each good contains something bad, and each bad contains something good. Just like the society and cultures on which the fairy tales were a commentary, the Once Upon a Time… series explores the limits to which the characters would go in order to gain what they most desire. And, of course, there’s magic!
Excerpt from Enchanted
"Shush!" Dethdemona shooed her daughter off. Then, as if she hadn’t heard Mathelda’s questions, she took the cauldron, set it on the tree stump, and poured into it the liquids from all the vials at once. The brew immediately started to bubble. "Now for the final ingredient…" The witch bent down to pick up the pointy knife. "I should have foreseen why the potion didn’t work," she said as she approached Rosalynn. Dethdemona lifted the knife to her stepdaughter’s neck. Rosalynn’s blue eyes widened with horror, then shut tightly at the same moment Mathelda’s throat issued a high pitched shriek.
Excerpt from The Serpent King’s Sorrow
On the first anniversary of her father’s death, Eleanor found herself in the deepest state of hopelessness ever known to mankind. Her insides twisted with agony, for she had failed as a ruler. Her mind gnawed on her soul, for she had not lived up to her word. And her body had surrendered to hunger, for she had been giving most of her meals to the small beggar children in the royal courtyard. In all her sadness, Eleanor crawled under her father’s bed, as she did not think she deserved to lie in it, and waited for Death.
He appeared out of nothingness like he had when he came for the king. His grim voice filled the chamber with an echo whose message resonated deep inside the queen’s soul.
Anne Rowan had always dreamed of becoming an astronaut because she was intrigued by the infinite prospects of the Universe. One day, however, she got lost in a book and discovered a completely different universe. She called it Imagination, and she can be found wandering through its limitless corridors, sorting out ideas, and creating stories from them.
Award-winning author Anne Rowan holds a B.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. She divides her time between the Czech Republic and Southern California, where she lives with her husband, two children, and Poe--the cutest ugly dog in the world.
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