With Wish Upon a Southern Star soon to be launched in September, it is my pleasure to introduce you in advance to each of the contributing authors and to give you a taste of their work.
Today, meet Leigh Roswen and find out about her story,
"Jack and the Alphaget Book."
Leigh Roswen is a mum, ex-scientific officer, an accounts clerk, keen blogger, photographer and nature enthusiast. She loves reading and writing stories with insightful observations and warm, quirky characters.
She has had some success in short story competitions and anthology submissions for both adult and children’s writing. Her short story, ‘Thongs on the Path,’ is soon to be published in The NSW School Magazine.
She loves walking and swimming at the beach in her home town of Wollongong, Australia.
You can follow Leigh on twitter (@leighroswen) or read her blog about writing, creativity and nature at leighroswen.com/
A Conversation with Leigh
1. Leigh, why do you write?
So many reasons. I have always worked in left-brain areas – science and now accounting. When my children were becoming more independent and I started to work part-time, I wanted to explore my creativity. As I love reading, writing seemed like a good fit. I signed up for my first writing course. Little did I know it would become so addictive. I love bringing characters to life on the page and creating fantasy worlds.
I write most days whether it be for my blog, or a course I’m doing, or short stories or my rural fantasy novel. My fab writing critique group also keeps me motivated. I like that writing gives you a chance to edit your words so you can say exactly what you want. Often when I’m speaking I say things that don’t come out quite right.
2. Why do you think fairy tales remain relevant today?
The magical elements and fantastical historical settings allow us to face evil and danger without fear or direct relevance to our own lives. This makes them fun and escapist. I was a school ethics teacher for a few years and we often discussed folk and fairy tales because they present moral dilemmas and lessons in a much more engaging way than factual scenarios.
From oral storytelling traditions to modern day film adaptations the telling of fairy tales is one of the few cultural practices to link generations of humanity.
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?
Thumbelina. I was the youngest in my family so I related to her smallness and I was fascinated with tiny worlds within the larger world. I made roads and towns in the gravel driveway, imagined the corner of the garden to be a magical forest, or rock pools to be underwater communities. I remember making matchbox beds for my own Thumbelina - a tiny plastic doll. Also, I found the mean animals, such as the mole in the story, less scary than the evil witches and cruel sisters in the other fairy tales.
As an adult, I lean more to the complex plots of legend rather than fairy-tales in the strictest sense of the word. I love stories like King Arthur (English) or Mulan (Chinese) that have some historical basis but also have supernatural elements.
4. What is your favourite fairy tale retelling by another author? Why is it your favourite?
I admire Kate Forsyth’s dark (adult content) retelling of Rapunzel - Bitter Greens - for its meticulous historical detail and plotting – the end is very satisfying (but warning: some content may disturb). I am currently engrossed in Heart’s Blood (Beauty and Beast retelling) by Juliet Marillier; it also has a rich historical setting and wonderful characters.
In the world of film, Shrek is still my favourite because of its clever twist on the fairy tale trope, humorous characters, and a great musical score.
5. Can you tell us a little about your retold fairy tale?
'Jack and the Alphaget Book' is a modern-day beanstalk romp featuring a Jack in mortal peril, witty and wily alphabet creatures and an alluring girl giant.
A taste of Leigh's story...
He heard booming voices and the sound of clomping feet coming from inside. Jack was so eager to set his eyes on the occupants of the house that he didn’t think about the danger. He was too small to reach the handle as the door itself was as big as a basketball court. But in the door was a cat flap. He got a foothold on the scratches at the bottom of the door, hoisted himself up and pushed the cat flap open with his head. No sooner had he done this than he heard a thunderous male voice.
“Fie fi fo foi,
I smell the whiff of a teenage boy.
Be he alive or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
“Oh Bolgin, you are so old-fashioned. On Mightychef last night they said the best way to cook Jacks is slivered on top of a salmon soufflé,” came a booming female voice.
“Well, Holga, dearest, we’ve gotta catch the little pest first. They’re apparently sneaky, thieving little blighters,” replied Bolgin.
The cat flap had come down firmly on Jack’s back and wedged him awkwardly with his head hanging into the giant’s hallway and his legs outside. He trembled, wishing he hadn’t been quite so curious.
Want to find out what happens next?
Read the full story in
Wish Upon a Southern Star
(release date 2 September 2017)
Pre-order an e-copy from Amazon
(or wait for the release date to order your paperback copy from Amazon)
Attend the launch
Saturday 2nd September, 2pm
at the South Library, Christchurch
For Christchurch residents and launch attendees,
preorder a paperback direct from the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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You can email me at shelley.chappell