Fairy-tale Inspiration by Vonnie Winslow Crist
Fairy-tales are the beginning place for my books. Faerie Folk, whether old or young, beautiful or ugly, kind or hard-hearted, offer lots of inspiration. I’ve used a variety of Faerie creatures in my Young Adult novel, The Enchanted Skean, and in both of my story collections: Owl Light and The Greener Forest.
The trick to making Faerie Folk interesting is to offer readers new creatures and lesser known fairies or to bring a different perspective to magical stories and beings we’re already familiar with.
In my fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, I created a number of new creatures. My favorite is an “owl sprite.” Owl sprites look like ordinary owls, but have the ability to change into beautiful sprites dressed in feather gowns. They’re clever, fearless, and able to talk while in owl or sprite form. Alas, my owl sprite is falling for Beck, the teen hero of my fantasy novel. I’m not sure if this relationship can have a happy ending.
Rufins (small, red-haired thieves), Janepar (stout, cat-loving warriors), Cargla (riddle-loving giants), and Skullsouls (dreadfully evil creatures) are some of the other people I created for “The Enchanted Skean.” I also did a new take on more traditional magical creatures including: dragons, goblins, mages (magicians), and shape-changers. You can read 3 chapters here: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/enchanted_skean_excerpt
And view “The Enchanted Skean’s” book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU
In “Owl Light,” my newest collection of fantasy, science-fiction, and ghost tales, assorted Faerie Folk make appearances. Selkie (seal-people), merfolk, the Daughter of Winter, a trow and buggane, goblins, the Dark Lady, a hearth goddess who takes the form of an orange cat, and other less familiar fairies live between the book’s covers. You can read “Gifts in the Dark,” the story featuring the Dark Lady here: http://www.wattpad.com/78447899-gifts-in-the-dark-part-i (Part II is posted FREE here, too).
One of my favorite tales in “Owl Light” is “Feathers” – my own version of “Rumpelstiltskin” in which the dwarf is the hero. You can read an excerpt here: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/stories__more/happy_tell_a_fairy_tale_day
“The Greener Forest,” my first story collection, is filled with tales of Faery Folk colliding with regular people. Sometimes, the out-come is good, but not always. I deliberately chose to use lesser-known fairies and invented some magical critters of my own. Plus, for lovers of paranormal romance, almost every story has a relationship at its core. (Though, I did include one non-fairy love story featuring a zombie and his beloved). You can read an excerpt from a tale from “The Greener Forest”featuring a love story between a girl and a dragon here: http://www.wattpad.com/78471363-weathermaker-an-excerpt
One of the most wonderful things about fairy-tales and magical folktales is that there are so many. And if you add in the less familiar ones from Asia, Africa, South America, Native Americans, etc. – the list of stories for inspiration is endless.
Thanks to Gladys Gonzales and Nerd Girl Official for hosting me. I hope your readers have enjoyed my post and interview. Lastly, to everyone reading this, have a magical day!
Vonnie Winslow Crist is author of short stories, poems, and novels for young adults and adults, as well as the award-winning children’s book, “Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales.” A Pushcart Nominee and winner of 2 Honorable Mentions in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contests, she is recipient of a MSAC Writing Award. Both “The Greener Forest” and “The Enchanted Skean” were voted among the Top Ten books in the P&E Reader’s Poll, and “The Enchanted Skean” is a Finalist for the 2014 Compton Crook Award. As an illustrator, she’s had over 1,000 illustrations published. A clover-hand who’s found so many 4-leafed clovers she keeps them in jars, Vonnie believes the world around us is filled with mystery, miracles, and magic.
Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
Like your readers, I began writing in elementary school! The difference being, I wanted to tell stories to others. When I was young, I told stories to my younger sisters and their friends. Soon, I was telling tales to kids around campfires. Eventually, I was making up tales for my kids and visiting schools as a storyteller. An opportunity came in 1994 for me to put several of those stories down in writing and have them published.
I was working as a staff illustrator and layout person for “The Vegetarian Journal” and other Vegetarian Resource Group publications when one of their authors decided not to go through with her book. I knew the company had a publication slot available, so I came up with a project which suited their needs (vegetarian and animal-friendly) and my interests (magical stories for kids). “Leprechaun Cake and Other Tales” was published in 1995 and selected as One of the Best Books of the Year by PCRM.
Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
I think every book I’ve read has influenced me! That said, what influenced me most was a stack of 12-page (counting the front and back covers) fairy-tale booklets published by Platt & Munk Co. Inc in the 1930s. From toddler-hood, every time my parents and I visited an older family friend, she handed me the stack of booklets to entertain myself while the grown-ups talked. If I was good, I got to take a booklet home. I taught myself to read by age 3 using those beautifully illustrated fairy-tales.
From there, I read the “My Father’s Dragon” series by Ruth Stiles Gannett, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” series, “The Bobsey Twins,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “Nancy Drew,” and other typical kids’ books. Then, I found “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis and “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis and Tolkien became my favorite authors, and I searched for more speculative fiction from there.
As far as influencing my life, I’d have to add “The Bible” onto the list.
Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
My characters show up and demand to be written about! I think I’m influenced by people I meet, then I start to ask the “what if” questions. Before long, a character exists and needs to have a story written for them. Yes, sometimes the character rattles around in my head for a while before I can write a tale for them to inhabit. Right now, there’s a sea captain named Glenn-Robbie in my brain who needs a story.
Q. What motivates you to write?
I need to write stories like a need to breathe oxygen. The greatest joy is when someone reads my books and gives me positive feedback (whether in a review or when I’m chatting with them).
Q. What is the hardest part of writing?
For me, it’s carving enough time out of a very busy life to sit at the computer and type away! If I’ve got time, I’m a happy woman. I forget meals, chores, everything – I just enter the world of the story I’m working on.
Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn from every story I write. In the case of “The Enchanted Skean,” I learned to create a good reference book and draw a map of the places mentioned in the novel. It’s hard to keep all the characters, town locations, and creatures straight unless you’ve got all of those things outlined. From “The Greener Forest,” I learned it’s tough to put together a cohesive collection of stories with different characters and magical elements. You need to establish a theme (in this case, trees). I used illustrations and theme-appropriate poems to link the tales. From “Owl Light” I learned it’s harder to put together a 2nd collection which makes thematic sense. I had to rewrite more stories to make the book feel like a unified group of stories. Owls and darkness are the themes of that book.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere! Books I read, news stories, conversations over-heard at the mall, things I see or hear while gardening… Inspiration is easy to come by – it’s what you do with that inspiration that makes a difference.
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
My family has grown used to my quirky way of seeing the world. I think they find my speculative writing and painting odd and charming – much the way families love and humor a maiden aunt with 8 cats, vintage clothes, and an overgrown garden.
Q. What is the best advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Read your genre. Write as often as possible. Find a positive critique group. Revise and rewrite before submitting your writing to publishers. Attend writing workshops. Understand rejection is part of your journey. Remember an editor (whether they love or hate your work) is just one person with one person’s opinion. Keep reading, writing, working on your craft, and submitting work. Sooner or later, you’ll find a publisher for your writing. Persistance really does pay off.
Q. What book are you reading now?
I’m always reading several books at a time. At the moment, I’ve got book markers in “Shadow of Night,” “Women and Their Quilts,” “The Fairy Bible,” and “Killing Kennedy.”
Buy Vonnie’s books: http://tinyurl.com/Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Amazon
Find Vonnie online at her website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/home
Become a fan on Facebook: http://facebook.com/WriterVonnieWinslowCrist
or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/vonnie_winslow_crist
Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/VonnieWCrist
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