Folklore Friday continues as we interview one of our own authors, Andrew Buckley, the mastermind behind satirical-fairytale/ comedic-fantasy Stiltskin.
Welcome to the site, Andrew. Let’s dive right into the questions …
1) Were you always intending to explore multiple fairy tales, or did that aspect of the book develop as you wrote? Have you always had an interest in folk and fairy tales?
I’ve always been interested in the real fairy tales. I grew up, like most did, with the cute, fluffy singing animals, boy gets the girl, evil people are ugly Disney versions. And don’t get me wrong, I loved them. Still do. However, when I started to discover the source material behind those fairy tales, it was quite enlightening. They were horrific! And awesome :) My interest in them was sparked because they were moral tales that conveyed a clear message that was undiluted. They were dark and sinister and had conclusions that didn’t always result in a happy ending. Being able to combine many different fairy tales into Stiltskin while re-introducing that dark side of the tales was a lot of fun.
2) Did you do a lot of research in terms of the folk and fairy tale aspects of the book?
The more I researched, the more I found, and the more places I found I could fit them into the story. Tweedle Dum/Dee, for example, was a last minute addition. He just fell into place. Others I had already outlined to appear in the story. I also stuck in a bunch of Easter eggs from bits and pieces of other fairy tales that didn’t quite make it into the story. Whether people notice them or not, I have no idea.
3) Does working with the defined plotlines of fairy tales (and twisting those plotlines) make your creative work as a writer easier or more difficult?
It made it easier because I grew up with them and I know the stories well, but it made it more difficult to put a fresh spin on characters that everyone knows. So I guess my answer is yes and no. Creating new unique characters like Niggle and the Humanimals was a lot of fun. Twisting the existing fairy tale characters into very different creatures, even more so. The Mad Hatter, for example, has been interpreted in many different ways - in Batman, in the Burton versions, Ed Wynn in the Disney version, and many more. I really wanted my Mad Hatter to be truly mad, to the point where he’s lost and doesn’t even know what he is. I drew some inspiration from the Joker for his re-modeling and I think he turned out very nice and deranged.
4) Who is your favorite folk or fairy tale author? Did they inspire your writing style?
I actually don’t have a specific one. I could say Grimm but you can follow even those tales back to their roots. Fairy tales are regurgitations of past stories and tales; in some cases they’re a combination of different stories and in many cases there are different endings for the same story in different cultures. It’s a bit of a mess and widely open to interpretation. My personal writing style is heavily influenced by some great comic fantasy writers who can apply their style to anything. Greats like Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Christopher Moore are among my favorites.
5) Do you have a favorite fairy tale? (Is it Rumpelstiltskin?)
Rumpelstiltskin stuck in my head for years and years because he was truly scary. In his tale he wanted to steal a baby. What was he going to do with the baby?! Do I have a favorite, though? Not really, they’re all wonderful in their own right.
6) Once Upon a Time and Maleficent have made tidal waves with viewers. What fairy tale or folklore do you predict will be the next ‘big thing’ in television/film?
Well, Riding Hood has been done to death and Alice has already been rebooted. I think they’ll likely go a little deeper and maybe veer away from the main stream fare. Much like they’ve done with Maleficent, I suppose. What a great idea to take a villain and show her story! I’d like to see Rumpelstiltskin represented for the evil little bugger he is on the big screen, but I think we’ll probably see more mash-ups of tales before we see more singular characters emerge.
Thanks for your time Andrew. It was very interesting to see how your own experience with fairytales and folklore shaped Stiltskin.
Andrew Buckley has been writing steadily since he was six years old when he wrote a story about a big blue dinosaur and received a gold star from his elementary school teacher. He had the good fortune to grow up in England where the sense of humor is rather silly.
In 1997 he moved to Canada because the thought of a country run entirely by beavers was amusing. He attended the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and Television program where he graduated with excellence. After pitching and developing several screenplay projects for film and television he worked in marketing and public relations for several years before venturing into a number of content writing contracts. During this time he abandoned screenwriting altogether and began writing his first novel.
Andrew now dwells happily in the Okanagan Valley, BC with 3 kids, 2 cats, 1 needy dog, 1 beautiful wife, and a multitude of voices that live comfortably in his head. His debut novel The Death, The Devil, and the Goldfish is published by Curiosity Quills Press.
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