Allison's Book Bag

Anthology and Interviews!

Posted on: June 24, 2011

Here is another first for Allison’s Book Bag! This week I will review The New Fairy Tales Anthology, a collection of stories compiled by publisher Aurora Wolf. Why this selection? The editors Michael Pennington and Linda Manning are part of an online writing community to which I belong: Zoetrope. Aurora Wolf featured one of my stories in its June 2010 edition of its ezine and even published it later as part of a best of collection. Fairy tales are one of my favorite genres to read. You might have noticed one of my published writings (Their Daughter Rose) is a modern update of Beauty and the Beast. Last, and perhaps most obvious, I like publications for young people. 🙂

Since discovering the fun of interviewing authors, I have tried to package them with reviews. Because this week’s review selection is an anthology and so contains many authors, I decided to use interviews as teasers. Check back each day for a featured author. Then return on Saturday for an interview with editor Linda Manning and Sunday for my review of The New Fairy Tales Anthology. Save the dates: June 25-26!

Elizabeth Creith

Elizabeth wrote “Jane and the Wizard,” a tale about a widow who lived in the suburbs and had three daughters. When the sisters turn eighteen, they each venture out on their own. They meet an old woman, a wizard, and unexpected danger.

Allison: What are your publications for young people?

Elizabeth: I have one book out, “Erik the Viking Sheep”, which was published in English and French (“Erik le Mouton Viking”) by Scholastic Canada. This is really for children, but so far I don’t have any novels published for young people, although I’m working on several.

I have several flash stories for young people which have been published: “Dragonfly“, published by Silver Blade in July 2009, “Water Witch“, published by Short-Story Me! in November 2009, “Hamadryad at Midwinter”, which appeared in the April 2011 issue of Odyssey (print), and, of course, “Jane and the Wizard” in the New Fairy Tale Anthology. There may be others; because I’m way past the “young people” age myself, I find it hard to decide what’s for young people and what isn’t, particularly if I enjoy it, and if it’s the kind of thing I would have enjoyed in my admittedly odd adolescence.

Allison: Why did you become a writer?

Elizabeth: I imagine for the same reason most other people become writers. I had stories to tell. Really, that’s why. I love to tell stories, and I don’t seem to run out.

It would be lovely to make my living at writing, and so far I’m managing to do that, but it’s not the primary reason I write.

Allison: Why do you write for young people?

Elizabeth: I like to write plot-driven stories with interesting characters and a clear moral stand. Children and young people have a strong sense of justice, and I like that, too. Also it seems to me to be more fun to write fantasy for young people than for adults. The other important reason is that a lot of what I read is really written for young people – Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, Kenneth Oppel; they engage my interest and sense of wonder. I want to do the same for my readers.

Allison: What was your reason for writing a fairy tale?

Elizabeth: I love fairy tales, especially the obscure ones. I like fairy tale tropes – two siblings fail, the third succeeds and rescues them, and so on. Curses are breakable, good is rewarded, evil punished – well, usually. Fairy tales also excite a sense of wonder – pigs build houses, horses talk, the North Wind’s mother offers help. I wanted to write something modern that followed in the tradition. The idea of fairy tale tropes set in here and now is interesting and stimulating to the imagination. It helped that Linda Manning sent me a note saying she hoped I’d write a story for the anthology.

Allison: What are your favorite books for young people?

Elizabeth: Anything by Diana Wynne Jones, particularly “Fire and Hemlock”, which treats with the Tam Lin or Thomas the Rhymer story, and brilliantly. I’d also recommend “Airborne”, “Skybreaker” and “Starclimber” by Kenneth Oppel. I love Robin McKinley’s stories of Damar, “The Blue Sword” and “The Hero and the Crown”, and her lovely retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”.

Allison: What is one writing tip you’d like to pass onto others?

Elizabeth: Learn your old stories and study them. See how a fairy tale works, or a myth, or a hero quest, because these are archetypal stories that resonate with people, always have and always will. If you can write a wonder tale, you’ll always have an audience.

Allison: What is one other thing you’d like to share?

Elizabeth: Art – whether it is visual art, literature or music, anything – is absolutely essential to life. A life without art in it is an impoverished life indeed. I’d encourage everyone to commit some kind of art, no matter how well or poorly you think you do it. It feeds the soul.

Contact Info:

Elizabeth’s Blogs:

Harriet Darling

Harriet Darling wrote “The Power of Music”. After Joanne loses her dad, she retreats to the garden where she has an odd adventure.

Allison: What are your publications for young people?

Harriet: So far, the only stories I’ve published at all are the two fairy tales in the most recent Aurora Wolfe anthologies, “The Wedding Fairy,” and “The Power of Music.”  I also published a juvenile fantasy online about five years ago, called Jennifer’s Journey.  I am working on several Young Adult novellas and novels, but nothing is close to being published yet.  I’m also working on another fairy story, but it’s a long way from being ready to publish.

Allison: Why did you become a writer?

Harriet: I’ve been a writer all my life, as most other writers will say.  My first completed story was in junior high, about a donkey, that rated an A+ from my teacher, which of course encouraged me greatly.  Until then, I read everything I could get my hands on (and still do).  I often make up stories for myself about the people I see, and I also carry on imaginary conversations between people I meet (which makes me sound a little nuts, I guess).

Allison: Why do you write for young people?
I believe I write mostly for young people because I still think like a young person.  For a woman of advanced years (age 72 in August), I seem to be incredibly naïve.  When I try to write dramatic adult stories, they often turn into predictable, ordinary and boring tales, and tend to lack conflict, making them unpublishable.  On the other hand, I believe that I have something to say to young people about how to be a happy and fulfilled mature person.

Allison: What was your reason for writing a fairy tale?
I wrote “The Wedding Fairy” simply because I had an image of a fairy sitting on the shoulder of a beautiful bride, and just started writing.  I’m not sure I’d call it a “fairy tale,” exactly, since I think of fairy tales as carrying a message to young people and my story was just entertainment.  My other story, “The Power of Music,” comes closer to meeting that criteria since it has a message of empowerment for young people, but I really wrote both of them for no other reason than to entertain.

Allison: What are your favorite books for young people?

Harriet: “The Wizard of Oz” series is always a favorite, and the Harry Potter books are also great.  When I was young I read “Black Beauty,” “Heidi,” and “Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang” over and over, along with many others whose names I forget.  I also devoured the Nancy Drew books, along with Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason books.

Allison: What is one writing tip you’d like to pass on to others?

Harriet: What I’ve learned from Holly Lisle, the best writing coach I’ve ever had, is that every story needs conflict of some kind, and that every story needs a protagonist, an antagonist, an interesting setting and a twist.

Allison: What is one other thing you’d like to share?

Harriet: I’d like to pass along the idea that writers read and writers write.  If you want to be a writer but you don’t read tons of books, you’re probably not really a writer; and if you don’t write, even if it’s only journals or blogs, you’ll never be a writer.

Avery Olso

Avery wrote “The Bauxite Tree,” a tale about a young girl from Jamaica. Bauxite is significant to her story, but you need to read the tale to find out why. I’ll just tell you mines, schools, and flora are also part of the story. 

Allison: What are your publications for young people?

Avery: I’ve written several short stories and flash fics for young people. Among them “For The Love of Ciderpunk”, a gritty YA tale of a girl caught between love and God in a camp of cider-swilling punks and squatters will make its debut in the 2012 Best New Writing anthology. Other stories can be found in Scholars & Rogues, Evolve Journal, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Jersey Devil Press, and Alice Magazine. I keep an updated list of publications on my website.

Allison: Why did you become a writer?

Avery: I don’t think people become writers – they are born that way. Even before I knew what letters were and how to use them, I collected and told stories, and thought about the world around me as one big narrative. I think of all of life like a story, and I rearrange memories so that they follow coherent plotlines, and I’d wager most writers do the same. When you think that way, it is natural that you feel the need to write something down when it touches you, or to make sense of it and to archive the memory in your own brain. If you’re a writer, you’ll know.

Allison: Why do you write for young people?

Avery: I write for young people because I’m a 20-something with typical 20-something angst. I’m legally an adult but don’t feel like one all of the time. I think this is the decade where I process memories and try to sift out who I am from who I thought I would be, and from who others thought I would be. Writing YA helps me to work through the conflicts I had in my teens and early 20s. Also, teen fans are amazing. If something resonates with them, they will use what they learned to get through a hard part in their own lives, and they will let the writer know. If I am dishonest in my writing in any way they will call me on it, because they know: they are still keenly feeling those feelings I’m recreating from memory.

strong>Allison: What was your reason for writing a fairy tale?

Avery: I write fairy tales for much the same reason. While my life is shaping up to be pretty amazing, I went through some hard times where happy endings were few and far between. Sometimes when something bothers me, or when a situation looks grim or is left unresolved, it reminds me of the hard times. I’ve found that it helps to turn the problem into a fairy tale.  Writing fairy tales inspired by real situations helps me to visualize one way the situation could turn out positive. It gives me the happily-ever-after that I might not be able to create in my “real” life and helps me to accept and learn from the low points along with the high.

Allison: What are your favorite books for young people?

Avery: My favorite books for young people are still the ones I read when I was a young person. While I’ve definitely enjoyed the recent explosions of the YA market with instant classics like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter books, my all-time favorites will always be those classics that helped me through my teen years: Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, The Island of the Blue Dolphins, Summer of the Monkeys, The Boy Who Reversed Himself, The Cay, My Side of the Mountain, and Little Women.

Allison: What is one writing tip you’d like to pass onto others?

Avery: Don’t underestimate the value of a good critique group. When you first start off you’ll want a friend who will encourage you and praise your creativity. Once you gain confidence in your writing it’s important to find people who are different enough from you who will stretch your brain in new and creative ways. I am currently part of the Mezrab Writers group in Amsterdam, where the only thing the writers have in common is a high skill level, commitment, and drive to improve. We have people who write in the literary, historical, mystery, philosophy, Christian, and creative nonfiction genres. Being exposed to such a breadth of high-quality work and critique has made me bring my A-game and write with an intentionality that I’ve never had before.

Allison: What is one other thing you’d like to share?

Avery: Writing is about feelings and heart. If you do it right, you are going to feel, and it is going to hurt. Instead of shying away from pain, dare to go where it hurts. Throw it all onto the page and type through your tears. Even if your writing skill isn’t where you’d like it to be, people will recognize emotion that resonates. In the end, we all read to connect with something that speaks to our inner selves. Put it all out there, uncensored first and foremost, and worry about the rest later.

Contact Info:

Avery’s Blog:

Mark Wolf

Mark wrote “Don’t Get into the Van.” Main character, Danny, misses the bus he needs to catch to meet his friend to see a movie. Now what should he do?

Allison: What are your publications for young people?

Mark: “Torrance the Tidy Troll” and “Moridon the Magnificent” were accepted and posted at Spaceports and Spidersilk some time back.  “Torrance the Tidy Troll” was also accepted as a reprint for Stories For Children’s back to school edition for this late summer.

“Fool’s Fire” is going to be in Liquid Imagination’s kid’s section (Kid’sMagination) a site in progress at this time. Moridon might join it, also. 🙂

I have a story called “Danny O’Leary: Steamfitter’s Apprentice” up at Aurora Wolf and of course “Don’t Get In The Van” is in the New Fairy Tales anthology.

There are others that could be argued into children’s stories but these are the ones that first come to mind.

Allison: Why did you become a writer?

Mark: Why does anyone become anything?  I think in some sense we are what we are and life is just a process of discovering what we are. So, I guess I’m saying that I was always a writer but had to discover that I was.

Allison: Why do you write for young people?

Mark: I think a lot of my stories have ended up more suited for young people not always by conscious design, but more because I find myself writing with a sense of wonder when I write. It’s something I treasure to be able to imagine the possibilities inherent in a tale.

Allison: What was your reason for writing a fairy tale?

Mark: I remember reading fairy tales with my mother and Dr. Seuss. I wanted to see if I could come up with something that would hold a child’s interest and make them think before acting on an impulse.

Allison: What are your favorite books for young people?

Mark: Wow, that’s a toughie. I could mention Dr. Seuss again, I suppose. I would also want to mention and plug New Fairy Tales. I don’t normally plug my own work that much but there are a lot of surprisingly good stories in it. It’s worth a read. Also, the Harry Potter series.

Allison: What is one writing tip you’d like to pass onto others?

Mark: Write your passion. What do you dream about? What kinds of changes would you make in the world, no matter how fanciful they are to make the world different, more exciting, more interesting?

Allison: What is one other thing you’d like to share?

Mark: When you sit down to write, try to balance writing in the fever pitch of the muse/moment with imagining being your characters. What are their senses telling them as they maneuver their way through the situations you are putting them through?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me!

7 Responses to "Anthology and Interviews!"

Have you had a chance to read any of McKinley’s re-tellings of classic fairy-tales? They’re all wonderful reads.

I read Robin McKinley’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast to help me in writing my own version of that fairy tale. What are some of your favorite books of hers?

My childhood favorite was Hero and the Crown and Beauty. Deerskin was a close runner-up. Today, I want to say Sunshine.

Not being familar with Sunshine, I looked up a description. Vampires, huh? That’s different for McKinley.

Another one of my favorite authors for retellings of classic fairy tales is Gail Levine. So far, I have only reviewed Two Sisters of Bamarre.

I’ve read Ella Enchanted and Fairest by Lavine. You may also enjoy Mette Ivie Harrison–the book Mira, Mirror is an interesting YA spin-off of the story of Snow White. It’s told from the perspective of the mirror.

For McKinley, when I first saw Sunshine, I though, “Oh no. Please tell me you didn’t write this for the vampire craze.” But I gave it a try nonetheless (it’s McKinley!) and I loved it. It’s wonderful, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Although I’ve been avoiding vampire books since they became a craze, I’ll add Sunshine to my list of books to read. It might surprise me too.

I’ll also add Mira, Mirror to my list of books to read. My list is long but I can always squeeze in a fairy tale: 🙂

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