THE VILLIANS VOICE
People have been rewriting stories from the villain’s point of view since Paradise Lost (at least!) but they’re having a particular heyday right now, as antiheroes and gray morality are charming us onscreen and in our books. We think fairy tales are especially ripe for this treatment. Here’s why.
1) They’re Wide Open
There’s one small thing that Disney adds to the fairy-tale canon every time it makes a movie, and it’s so insignificant that it’s easy to miss: all the characters get names. Rare is the fairy tale so fleshed out that it bothers to name anyone but its protagonist, and half of those are just nicknames. Fairy tales are sketches, deliberately so, with plot outlines and a cast of characters and not much else.
All those gaps are possibilities. The characters need personalities and motivations, the setting can be developed into a cohesive place and time, and the plot begins to twist to fill the space available. That’s to writers like a flame is to moths. We just can’t resist taking a simple story and shaping it into our own image.
2) A Little Perspective Makes a Big Difference
Speaking of motivations! Do you know why Rumplestilskin was so interesting in getting his hands on a miller-turned-queen’s firstborn son? No? Neither did the Grimm brothers. They just wrote down the story and washed their hands of it.
Too bad, because it sounds like there’s an interesting backstory there. We take two stabs at it in Wolves and Witches, but the possibilities are endless. Just asking “why” raises irresistible answers.
3) Even the Good Guys Aren’t Always That Great
The princess saves the Frog Prince by kissing him and…wait, no, she throws him against a wall. Various versions of Sleeping Beauty feature a prince who’s, shall we say, indifferent to whether his girlfriend ever wakes up. We have long-gone lovers submitting their beloved to tests of loyalty, and others demanding feats of incredible endurance, courage, or strength.
Come to think of it, the villains don’t look half bad in comparison.
On Tuesday, February 19th, World Weaver Press will be releasing the fairy tale short story and poetry collection Wolves and Witches by sisters Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt in paperback and ebook (http://worldweaverpress.com/books/wolves-and-witches/)
You can also find Wolves and Witches on Goodreads.