Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Post 2 of 5: Brothers Grimm Story Writing Competition: Evil Fairy Tales

Evil Fairy Tales by Alice and Pagan Tawhai is one of the two runners-up in the New Zealand Listener's Brothers Grimm story-writing competition.

In the words of Judge Kate de Goldi:

Evil Fairy Tales: this is a simple story that blends Maori and fairy-tale tropes very well. It is beautifully written, seeming somehow both economical and leisurely. It obeys a number of fairy-tale “rules” but without overt display. A distinctly sinister undertow bobs beneath the smooth sing-song surface, making the story linger unnervingly in the reader’s head.
You can read the entire story on the site but here are the first few paragraphs to whet your interest. From Evil Fairy Tales by By Alice and Pagan Tawhai:

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Alice who lived with her mother in an old khaki-blue shearer’s quarters, far away from the river. There were two bedrooms, each with enough bunks to sleep six men. Alice slept in one room, and her mother slept in the other. Alice liked living a little way out of town. It meant she could sleep with the window open at night, and let the sweet dark air in, without having to worry that someone might jump the wild hedge, bursting with small starry white flowers fading to slender reddish-pink throats, and climb in her window. In town, her mother would have made her keep the window shut. Alice’s mother’s number one priority was to keep Alice safe.

The river was on the other side of the tiny town, which had more people than it had houses. Her mother was a cleaner in the next town, which was bigger. But there were lots of cleaning ladies, and sometimes there wasn’t enough work, so she didn’t get the hours. That meant less money, and sometimes there was hardly any food. Alice was a skinny pale girl, turning red when she blushed; from white to red and back again at the drop of a hat.

Her mother told Alice always to: “Keep away from old men, never accept food from strangers and don’t let anyone you don’t know take your photo.” “And always,” she said, “always keep safe.”

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