Remember, remember the fifth of November; gunpowder treason and derp. A quintessentially British celebration of the complete and utter failure to instigate revolution. You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for Guy Fawkes. Most of us only have to deal with our mistakes for a couple of years at most, but poor old Guy is still being burnt in effigy over 400 years after his particular little misstep. On the up side it has become a marvellous excuse to set things on fire and dick about with what are essentially improvised explosives. When I was a kid we even used to cook jacket-tetties by wrapping them in tin-foil and just hoying them into the base of a bonfire. We were very sophisticated up north. I’ll be spending this Bonfire Night as I do may others, occasionally peering out the window at other people’s fireworks and dearly hoping that none of the bangs are actually gunshots. They rest of my time will be spent beavering away at a new short story I’m writing. It’s a fairy tale for submission to Homespun Theatre’s upcoming eBook.
Homespun recently put on a production of East of Sun, West of Moon at 2012’s Edinburgh Fringe festival and received some rather glowing reviews (including 4 stars from The Scotsman.) I didn’t go see it when I was up at the fringe for certain obvious reasons, primarily that a bunch of blokes in their mid to late twenties, all occupying a fuzzy area of the spectrum somewhere between drunk and hungover, turning up to watch children’s theatre might have been, you know, a little bit weird. The eBook is an effort to raise the serious up-front wonga they need to take the show on the road. Ali over at 12books12months has been acting as their social-media wizard/witch/warlock/guru/mythical-forest-creature and asked me if I’d like to write something for it. It has certainly been offering a more relaxed pace than I would have been experiencing had I been in a fit state to start NaNoWriMo this year. (I’m feeling a bit better by the way.)
So here I am, writing a fairy tale, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.
The thing with fairy tales is that they are quite obviously and painfully of the fantasy genre, arguably to proto-genre, a tiny shambling hominid to the modern genre’s lumbering homosapien. And there in lies the crux of my problem. Where exactly to you draw the line? What delineates the separation of fairy tale and fantasy? Where does one begin and the other end? So I’m stumbling around in a bit of a grey area, trying not to make the story not feel like a pale imitation of modern fantasy, scurrying around in the shadow of Lord of the Rings. Part of me feels that a lot of the difference comes from the names of places. To me a fairy tale is incredibly vague about the actual setting and location, veering away from actual place names. You just got a generic “king” or “princess” but no indication as to the seat of their royal power, the minute you stick a name in and suddenly it feels like standard fantasy. And that is the dilemma I’ve been struggling with.
In the end I’ve more or less given up worrying about it. The distinction between the two types of story are something I shouldn’t really fret over. If in the end it reads more like fantasy I have at least written something which is always preferable to nothing. . I’ve tried my best to imbue it more with a feeling of Arthurian myth, of old Saxon tales and Norse legends. However, like many fairy tales, it does have a moral. The moral essentially being: Don’t mess with clever people.
In unrelated news this evening will see my inaugural guest post over at FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! You should check it out. It will be a right old giggle.