Thursday, February 18, 2010


So I have heard the phrase "All good writers steal" as well as "There are no original ideas left." I believe these sayings to a point. My favorite genre of fiction is rewritten fairytails, there is something uniquely enchanting about talking a story hundreds of years old and taking it for a joyride. I have read the original Grimm's tales, Anderson, Perrault, who is himself a reteller, the Mabinogi, Cretin de Troyes, even Homer. But I find their literary descendants more interesting. This could have something to do with most of the older stories truly being morality tales, the stories were meant to make children avoid of the dark, mind their manners, listen to mom and dad, don't misbehave. The newer fairytales set out from the getgo to tell a story, maybe a moral might sneak in there, but above all, they mean to make a damn good story. Which usually equals some damn interesting twists and turns I don't think the Grimm's would approve of. Still there is something wonderful about Red Riding Hood falling in love with the Big Bad Wolf.
I also enjoy rewriting fairytales, putting my own twists on them. Fairytale elements always sneak into my writing, even when I set out to write something outside their realm. So I wonder how much I'm stealing. I just finished reading a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves which had one character who seemed eerily familiar.
Snow by Tracy Lynn follows the story of Jessica, a young duchess. The evil queen is replaced by a step mother who mixes modern science and alchemy with the arcane. Her experimental children, a mix of animal and human, are outcasts, calling themselves the Lonely Ones after they flee the place of their birth and set themselves up as pick pockets in London. Jessica, or Snow, eventually falls in with them by accident, after fleeing to London herself to escape her stepmother's plans to eat her heart for fertility. Among these misfits, Snow begins to fall for Raven, a handsome, darkeyed, dark-haired, tall serious looking young man, who happens to have black feathers sprouting out his arms and mixed into his hair.
...Well Damn.
Aside from the feathers, Raven seemed like a dead ringer for Felix, but then how many stories have serious looking dark eyed, dark haired heroes. At least Mina doesn't look anything like Snow. Still it was odd how uncomfortable I got reading about Raven, as if I was affronted he was so similar to MY CREATION. But Snow was published six years ago. I don't really have the right to feel affronted. Perhaps if Blue Zone ever sees a printing press, Ms. Lynn will feel her hackles rising when she reads Felix on the page. I have always tried so hard, even in my retellings, to create original characters and storylines, but perhaps, we have just run out of pure orginality and every story leaks into another without even meaning too. I am not plaguarizing Lynn's work, and maybe, instead, she might be flattered by a character that by chance echoes one of her own.

1 comment:

Karen Romano Young said...

My first novel has a character, Billy, who has black hair and a beaky nose and is constantly compared to a crow. Huh.

I think you should not worry about it now and just write it. The more you flesh Felix out the more evident it will become that he is different from Raven. But you could also just make him dark, not black -- owls aren't black, are they? Wait, he is an owl, right? Am I crazy?

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