Friday, January 11, 2013

Guest Post: Kristina Wojtaszek, author of OPAL

Fairy tales are all the rage. They're in the movies (Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman), on TV (Grimm, Once Upon a Time), in countless newly released books, and even in fashion (from Tinker Bell tees to gothic red cloaks). But why? Why are these simplistic little tales with such ancient roots still triumphing in today's society? 

Perhaps it's partly because they feel exotic and ancient, and yet also comfortingly familiar (we can all thank Mr. Walter Elias Disney for the latter). Fairy tales are like individuals; they can model new eras and take on new roles, but beneath the fitted armor, sweat and gore is the same person we know and either love, or love to hate. Fairy tales are malleable. Take Cinderella; we can strip our girlish memories of glass slippers and sparkling ball gowns down to the grit and grime of a much harsher reality. And we can watch Cinderella grow right along with us, from disillusioned child to a fiery, spirited young adult.

And since Cinderella's identity is defined by her experiences, her story, she can also be any color, any race, and be shaped by any number of personality traits. She can choose her own sexual orientation (Malinda Lo's Ash) or hell, even change sex altogether (Babette Cole's Prince Cinders, anyone?). She can hail from ancient China (Bound by Donna Jo Napoli) or go beyond humanity into the realms of futuristic androids (Marissa Meyer's Cinder). She can even alter roles, from good to evil and anywhere in between (even being slightly demented, as in Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister). As long as a couple of key components of her tale are present, she can be anyone, or anything, in any time and place. And I think that's something we can all admire, that magical potential, something so akin to being young and alive. Like us, fairy tales are nothing if not ambitious.

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