I love fairy tales, especially reimagined ones, so much so that they are a major plotpoint in Murder of Crones (and writing the ‘traditional fairy tale chapter’ in that was my favourite part of writing that book).
The things that made fairy tales so enchanthing when we are children are still fantastical as adults. There’s the eerie settings, the belief in magic and true love, and the terror of something bigger and darker than ourselves. Today’s interviewee W.R. Gingell has that same love of fairy tales and she’s done so much more with it than I have. Amongst other works, she’s also written Wolfskin and Masque, reimaginings of Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast respectively, and Spindle (out in August) covers Sleeping Beauty.
I’ve popped some links to her books at the bottom of the interview and I strongly recommend you take a minute to check them out. Nothing like a little fairy tale magic to make the day better. But in the mean time, here’s W.R. Gingell in her own words:
I love fairy tales and it’s definitely a genre on the rise. It feels like there have been more fairy tale movies and books released in the last couple of years than the last couple of decades, but even then they hardly dent the demand. As a reader, I know that I can’t get enough of it. What do you think it is about fairy tales that people love so much?
With newer fairytales, I think people love the idea of subverting the trope. It’s the joy of old characters and familiar settings turned on their heads and taken in a new direction. There are still the elements of wonder that engaged us as children (the princess, the prince, the fantastical setting) but now there are things that satisfy us as adults, too. Now, there’s a depth and reality to the characters, a more satisfying equality of gender, and a breadth of story that wasn’t present in the first fairytales.
Other than the Two Monarchies Sequence, you also have A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend, which is more sci-fi, and Ruth and the Ghost, a ghost story. Like many indie authors you aren’t confining yourself to a genre. In the past, you could pick up an author and know exactly what type of story you’re going to get. Now it could be almost any genre. How do you think this affects how readers buy books now?
I think it all comes down to accessibility and trust. A reader who has already taken the chance on you and found you to be engaging and easy to read, is more likely to trust you to lead them over into a new genre than they are to branch out by themselves. What I’m trying to do is establish that trust with my readers. When I publish a new book outside the preferred genre of some of my readers, I’d like to think that I’m able to bring them across with me. I’ve read genres I would not have otherwise read if I hadn’t trusted a favourite author to introduce me.
So I’d like to think that it won’t really affect how readers buy books now.
I was also delighted to come across another Terry Pratchett fan. I was recently asked to recommend a good ‘starter Pratchett’ to someone who’d never read him before. I found it more difficult than I expected because a lot of his books have in-jokes based on the previous books and he has so many characters who flit through. I ended up going for Nation as it’s a standalone. What would you have recommended?
I’d go with the first one I ever read: The Night Watch. I love all of Sir Terry’s books, but The Night Watch was my first and best. Such humour, yet such poignant feeling! It has everything. A top quality read.
If you could make a fictional character real (not one of your own), who would you choose and why?
I have so many! But in the end, I’d probably choose Patrick from Antonia Forest’s Marlowe Series. And then I’d be really cheeky and try to bring the twins (Nicola and Laurie) with him. They have been a constant delight to me through the years.
If you could do it all again, would you change how you have written any of your books, or how you have dealt with the publishing side?
There would be two big things that I’d do if I could do it over again.
- I would have started self-publishing sooner. I love the journey, I love the hard work and the frustrations, and the hugely steep learning curve it’s taken me on. I would have been doing this about two years ago if I’d known more about self-publishing.
- I would have approached my pre-publication process differently. This is assuming, of course, that I could go back with all the knowledge I’ve gained from self-publishing now! I’d arrange each book just a little better, send out advance copies a little sooner, get on Netgalley a bit sooner. Spindle (due out August 10th) is the first book where I’ve felt I’m doing all I need to be doing, and doing it in time. But then, Wolfskin was easier and better organised than Masque, and Masque was better managed than A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend.
Books by W.R. Gingell