The winner of the Brothers Grimm Story Writing Competition is Renata Hopkins. It's no suprise she is a professional writer, but not usually of fairy tales, but of soap operas! See my next post today for more about her winning tale.
From ‘You really just can go anywhere you want with the story’ by Guy Somerset:
Hearing that Renata Hopkins is currently away from her job as a Shortland Street* scriptwriter looking after her eight-month-old son, Rowan, I can’t help but wonder if he was in any way responsible for some of the thoughts that went into The Cry Baby, Hopkins’s winning entry in our Brothers Grimm story-writing competition.
The possum – a nice touch that culminates in a terrific pay-off at the end of the story – “just arrived pretty fully formed. Because at one point I was thinking of doing a kind of version of Rumpelstiltskin and there are elements of that story I suppose in what I’ve done. Initially, there was a little man that pops up somewhere, like there is in that story. But then at some point it was suddenly a possum.”
A Grimm story is, I’d imagine, a liberating form for a writer – especially one working on Shortland Street. You can be nasty in so many different ways.
“The thing I love about those stories is they kind of dispense with cause and effect. To a great degree, things just happen and that’s just part of the story and you just take that on. I think there was a version of Rumpelstiltskin I read that starts off something like, ‘A farmer once told a king his daughter could spin straw into gold.’ And you think, ‘Well, whyyy? Was there just an awkward pause in the conversation and you thought you’d say my daughter can spin straw into gold?’ You really just can go anywhere you want with the story.”
*According to Wikipedia, for those not in the know, "Shortland Street is a New Zealand prime-time soap opera centering around the fictitious Shortland Street Hospital, first broadcast on Television New Zealand's TV2 on 25 May 1992. It is the country's longest-running drama and soap opera, being broadcast continuously for over 5000 episodes and 20 years, and is one of the most watched television programs in New Zealand."