Over the last few months I have introduced you to the contributors of Wish Upon a Southern Star, which will be launched in a few days on Saturday 2nd September.
Today it's my turn!
Find out a little about me and my story
in Wish Upon a Southern Star,
Shelley Chappell is a writer of fantasy fiction and fairy tale retellings. She is the editor of Wish Upon a Southern Star (2017) and the author of Beyond the Briar: A Collection of Romantic Fairy Tales (2014) and a variety of short stories.
Shelley’s PhD, Werewolves, wings, and other weird transformations (2011), explored shape-shifting in children’s and young adult fantasy literature. She has worked as a university sessional lecturer and tutor, a high school English teacher and a tertiary student advisor. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.
To find out more about Shelley and her writing, follow her on Facebook or visit her website, www.shelleychappell.com
A Conversation with Myself
It's not uncommon for those who know me well to catch me talking to myself. Today, you can listen in as I ask myself the questions I have posed to the other contributors of Wish Upon a Southern Star.
1. Shelley, why do you write?
I write because I love language. Ever since I learned how to talk and write I have been fascinated by words and everything about language - its sound, rhythm, syntax, spelling - yes, even grammar! I love teasing out the meanings of words and searching for the exact right word or phrase that really expresses what I am trying to say. I do like to talk, but writing allows me the time to pick and choose my words with care and consideration.
I also love stories. To my mind, stories are how we make sense of the world and we are telling ourselves stories every day about our own experiences and about how we would like the world to be. I am curious, I love learning and I love to be entertained. Reading and writing stories goes hand in hand with those character traits and my love of language.
2. Why do you think fairy tales remain relevant today?
I think fairy tales will never go out of fashion because they are archetypal. So long as people love adventures and letting their imaginations take them to fantastic places and they want good to triumph over evil and will root for the little guy/girl to win then fairy tale archetypes will remain relevant and fairy tales, in whatever version suits society best, will remain in people's lives. I think it's fascinating to see how the tales have changed and continue to change over time to match new social and ideological needs. I wonder what the fairy tales of next century will be like?
3. What was your favourite fairy tale as a child? Why did you like it so much then and is it still a favourite or has it been replaced and why?
My favourite fairy tale as a child was "Rapunzel". Partly it was because I had rather long hair - until the age of ten, my hair fell to my knees. But it was the ending of Rapunzel's story that always captured my imagination the most: the blind prince stumbling through the world and the princess coming to his rescue and healing his blindness with her tears. Although she began her life trapped, ultimately Rapunzel had agency, adventure and love.
It still hasn't been replaced as my favourite fairy tale. Cress was my favourite fairy tale retelling in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and Tangled is top of my Disney list. And although I've already retold the story myself in "Stars on Dark Water" (the first tale in Beyond the Briar) I have a feeling this fairy tale isn't done with me yet.
4. What is your favourite fairy tale retelling by another author? Why is it your favourite?
I think I first encountered fairy tale retellings in fiction when I read Robin McKinley's Beauty as a teenager, and I loved both her "Beauty and the Beast" retellings (Beauty and Rose Daughter, which she wrote twenty years later) and Deerskin, which is a beautiful retelling of the darker fairy tale, "Donkeyskin."
However, when it comes to current favourites I would have to be tossing up between Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days, which is a wonderful retelling of the little known "Maid Mallen", and Franny Billingsley's The Folk Keeper, which is a radical reworking of the Scottish folk tale, "The Seal Wife". Both feature strong, interesting narrators who are determined to survive and eventually learn to thrive.
5. Can you tell us a little about your retold fairy tale?
"Small" is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, "Thumbelina." I had the original idea several years ago and it wasn't until I decided to map it on to the fairy tale, "Thumbelina", and change my narrator from a middle-aged gentleman to a schoolgirl that the story really started to take shape. My narrator, Tommelise (Danish for Thumbelina), is a scholarship student and a would-be lifelong scholar. She loves study and she loves her routine comforts. But when she is forced to join a compulsory school trip she is about to experience the adventure of a lifetime.
A taste of my story...
In my humble opinion, bunnies make the best of steeds. Alexander may have had his bold Bucephalus, but what was he really but a mouse frightened of his own shadow? Darius may have beaten Xerxes with a horde of heavy-footed hamsters and Hannibal brought his hares over the Alps, but I don’t think you can go past a well-behaved, bounding bunny. With bunnies, you know what you are going to get: stability and comfort in the extreme.
When it comes to travel by air, my sentiments are the same. Amelia Earhart might have crossed the Atlantic on a swift-paced swallow and the rich and hurried are welcome to hitch a ride on a long-necked goose if they dare, but I will always prefer a quiet, steady blackbird who won’t turn me upside down or make me lose my breakfast on her way. And travel by water? Not even worth taking.
My anthologies are available in paperback and hardback forms at Amazon.com. If you've read one of my stories, please leave me a rating and/or a review.
Smashwords is where you can find my free-to-read stories. For more details on my stories, see Shelley's Stories above.
Come and find me on Goodreads! If you've read one of my stories, please leave me a rating and/or a review. Follow me as an Author to be kept up-to-date with my latest blog posts and releases.
Like looking at pretty pictures?
Follow me on Pinterest to see my boards of fairy tale illustrations and fantasy art.
You can email me at shelley.chappell