eSpec Books interviews Jody Lynn Nye, contributor, Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine, http://tiny.cc/GandG.
eSB: What was your favorite faerie tale growing up and why?
JLN: I loved the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, probably because of the art style, which resembles medieval illuminations. I’m a calligrapher. I was drawn to that. I also enjoyed the fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. They’re undoubtedly the precursors to my Fairy Godmothers’ Union novels (The Magic Touch and Wishing on a Star). I love the idea of taking magic to make good things happen for others. I adored having my mom read me fairy tales from all over the world. We had a great collection of Little Golden Books, a big fat book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (which I later learned were bowdlerized from the original horrible moralizing stories told to children to make them behave), Hans Christian Andersen, the Kate Greenaway books, novelizations of the Disney stories, and many more.
eSB: What is your favorite faerie tale now and why?
JLN: Puss in Boots. Since he’s a cat, he isn’t entitled to riches or rank of his own, so he promotes his rather dim master to the point where everyone believes he is a wealthy nobleman. I like anything in which the cat comes out on top.
eSB: What is your favorite faerie tale retelling…and why?
JLN: Ever After, the movie version of Cinderella starring Drew Barrymore. Every time I think of her throwing the prince over her shoulder, I laugh. It’s a perfectly practical representation of a girl who has been forced to do heavy, dirty chores all her life, but still keeps her pride and wits about her.
eSB: Tell us about your favorite non-European faerie tale.
JLN: Anansi, the spider. He’s the African version of the Trickster God, who appears in many other traditions. I first came across him in my grammar school library. I thought he was clever and funny. He put himself into dangerous situations, but managed to get out of them with cheeky good humor. I’m a little afraid of spiders, so I approached the story nervously, but I came to appreciate him.
eSB: What faerie tale did base your story on and what challenges did you face ’punking it up?
JLN: The Red Shoes, which has been told by both the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, is about a selfish little girl who acquires a pair of magic shoes. In the Grimm version, she is forced to dance until she falls down dead. Andersen was a little more gentle to her – she only loses her feet. To give it steampunk flavor, I made the shoes a 19th century technological marvel. I gave the ending a twist, but the conclusion fits with the spirit of the original stories.
eSB: What interested you in working on this project?
JLN: I loved the idea of playing with faerie tales. I’ve been part of fairy-tale-themed anthologies before, but it intrigued me to incorporate steampunk into it. I think most, if not all, of the traditional stories could be adapted.
eSB: Faerie tales are all about archetypes and tropes, which one do you identify with and why?
JLN: Fairy godparents. I love surprising my loved ones with things they need or things they’ve forgotten they asked for.
eSB: Have you written/created anything other faerie tale retellings? Please tell us about it.
JLN: My current series is a humorous space opera starring a pair of characters not unlike PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster. The hero, Lord Thomas Kinago, is a young noble who is creative, rich, curious, confident, and sometimes totally lacking in common sense. His aide-de-camp is a tremendously competent and intelligent man who pulls him out of trouble.
eSB: What are some of your own works readers can look for?
JLN: My two latest books are the third in the Lord Thomas Kinago series, Rhythm of the Imperium (Baen Books) and Wishing on a Star (Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick).
eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
JLN: I’m currently working with another writer on a YA SF series. The next solo book in the pipeline, though, is the 20th Myth Adventures novel, Myth-Fits (Ace Books). (For those keeping score, it is the 21st book; there’s a short story collection titled Myth-Told Tales.)
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