Tuesday, August 12, 2014

J.C. Nelson: Twisting Fairy Tales

Today I've got  a pretty cool post to get out to ya'll. Recently, Free Agent by J.C. Nelson released, and it's an insane take on old fairy tales. When I found out through an old acquaintance, Sharon Johnston, that there was a blog tour involved and that they were looking for bloggers to participate, I couldn't say no.

Why? Because I am in love with fairy tale re-tellings, and I felt like J.C. Nelson might have something to say about it. Since I also tend to spend a lot of time on the blog exploring my own individual writing process, I thought maybe it would be fun to take a look at someone else's. Therefore, I asked J.C. to write a post detailing their process for taking those fairy tales that we all know and love, and turning them into something a little more...twisted.


Twisting Fairy Tales
Guest Post by J.C. Nelson

My Grimm Agency series takes place in a world where the old fairy tales happened...four hundred years ago. As such, I didn’t want to retell any particular fairy tale. I wanted to tell a new story which would incorporate elements of the old stories.

And I wanted to have fun.

You can already read plenty of books that are deeply faithful to the old lore. Books in which the courts of the Fae are well established and in which even the lesser players are known and understood. I wanted to create a modern fairy tale. And the first thing I thought was “What if there were a difference between Fairies and Fae?” 


But what if? What if the Fae still had their intrigues and courts and battles, but drawing the attention of the fabled Fairy Godmother was something to be feared and avoided?

And why is it always a godmother? So I knew right off I wanted a fairy Godfather, and I knew I was
playing with fire. You see, any story in which one character can click her heels together and solve
everything is only going to be fun once. 

But what if the Fairy Godfather was a greedy bastard who begrudged every smidgeon of magic?

Fantastic. And now I could begin populating their world. I started by buying a book of seven hundred
fairy tales and reading. I am probably the only person to ever annotate and sticky note a copy of
Grimm’s fairy tales. 

It turns out there are some freaky fairytales, but the ones that we know and love, if you step back, are
really the core conflicts that exist even today. Blended families, unfair treatment, faceless monsters...I
wanted all of these.

So let’s take Little Red Riding Hood. I wanted wolves in my book, but you can read a thousand books with “Shapeshifting werewolves who heal...” so I thought about it backwards:

The wolf ate Red’s family. That bit at the end where they are rescued strikes me as something tacked
on to make people feel better, like a Harry Potter epilogue. So what if Red’s family wasn’t rescued? Red would be out for blood.

And what sort of creatures were these wolves? Well, four centuries on, they aren’t the monsters they
once were. They’re weak, mangy, and reduced to preying on the weak and vulnerable. 

Great. Now I knew what happened, and I knew how the wolves were now. What if Red led a genocidal war against wolves? Wiped out most of them. And those that remained wouldn’t remember her as a hero. They’d remember her as a butcher who dipped her cloak in their blood.

Now we’re talking.

And the last step? To put Marissa, my main character, right in the crosshairs of the wolves, setting up a conflict they might never forgive her for.

The core thing here is that history is written by the victor. So if Red looked like the victim, I wanted to question that assumption. Were the wolves evil? Or just a little hungry? You know, deep down, we’re all made of meat. Did the wolves maybe gnaw on her family somewhat? Sure. But Red’s response went beyond revenge and into insanity. 

Little Red Riding Hood: victim, avenger, mass murderer.

Wolves: Hunted, slaughtered like beasts, and reduced to the margins of a world they once ruled. Bearing a grudge for the rest of time against women in red.

Marissa Locks, agent of the Fairy Godfather – a woman without magic holding her own in the happily ever after business, and headed for a run-in with the wolves that will leave them in a frenzy.

That’s a twist I’ll take any day.


Sounds fantastic, right? Thanks, J.C. Nelson, for the fantastic post, and here's a bit more about their book, Free Agent (Grimm Agency, #1):

When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.
Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…(source:goodreads)

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@authorjcnelson talks the Grimm Agency, Red Riding Hood, and twisting fairytales in FREE AGENT via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

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