Friday, August 1, 2014

Guest Post: Kari Castor, Contributing Author to Fae edited by Rhonda Parrish

I posted previously about Fae, a short story anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish. Today, I have a special guest post by one an author from the collection--Kari Castor, author of "The Price". I think you'll be delighted with her inspiration for her story.

Without any further ado, I'll turn today's space over to her:

It was late in the day, and I’d been procrastinating in the form of research for who knows how long.  I’d recently finished a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, which (despite changing the titular character’s gender and ethnicity) cleaved pretty closely to the original, and there I was, deep down a rabbit hole of fairytales and folklore, looking for new source material.  I knew I work with another fairy tale, but I wanted something less familiar this time, and I intended to take more liberties with it.

I was nearly ready to give up and turn my attention to something more fruitful when I found “The Rose.”  It was short.  Really short.  More like an outline than a fully-fledged story.  And I loved it.  There was a wonderful, sad, intriguing little story packed into the eight sentences the Brothers Grimm had recorded.

I don’t know if the same is true for other writers, but I have two different types of stories:  there’s the story that exists in my head as a more or less complete concept but getting it down on paper, and in a form I can be content with, is often a long and difficult process; then there’s the story that is really just a seed of an idea in my mind, but it leaps onto the paper with ease. “The Price” was very much the latter kind -- “The Rose” gave me a very basic framework, and I knew I wanted to keep a fairly traditional fairy tale feel with the story, but beyond that, I just let the story tell itself.

(I don’t mean to sound as though writing is some wonderful mystical process in which stories just flow through the Muse and into the writer.  It’s a lovely image, and I wish it were true -- it’d certainly make things much easier! -- but the vast majority of the time, it isn’t.  Those moments where the story tells itself are relatively rare, and they are a gift.)

While I took the seeds of my plot from “The Rose,” my fairy comes from the folkloric traditions of the British Isles.  I’ve always been drawn to the particular variety of the fae that appears frequently in Medieval literature (like early versions of Morgan le Fay in Arthurian tales, the Middle English poem “Sir Orfeo,” or the ballad of “Thomas the Rhymer”): these fairies are almost but not quite human; they’re not necessarily good or evil, but they always seem to have their own agendas; and they have a strong penchant for abducting humans and carrying them off to the realm of Faerie.  Notably, their reasons for wanting humans are rarely clear, nor is the fate of those humans who are unable to escape -- in some tales, death seems inevitable, but others hint at gentler outcomes.

I’ve always wondered about that.  What do the fairies want with us?

Honestly, though, I’m more interested in the question than the answer.

Thanks for sharing, Kari!


  1. Happy to do it, Heidi -- thanks for posting!

    (Though I am slightly shamefaced to see that I made a typo, in the form of a missing word, in the very first paragraph! Jeez.)

    1. Ha! I'm a writer too, and after first seeing my stories in print I discovered I really need an editor for my entire life!! But we're probably hardest on ourselves, right? :P

      I own a copy of the anthology and I very much look forward to reading it; and I love hearing your inspiration, thank you for sharing it with us x