Over the coming weeks I’m going to be sharing interviews I conducted with some of the contributors to Fae, and since alliteration is fun, I’m going to do it on Fridays and call them Fae-tastic Fridays. 🙂
This is the first of those interviews, where I asked questions of “And Only The Eyes of Children” author, Laura VanArendonk Baugh.
What was the inspiration for your Fae story?
I’d been reading some months before on modern slavery, how there are about 29 million enslaved people today – not pinned by student loans or other things sometimes described as slavery, but real, captive, bought-and-sold slaves, used for forced labor or the sex industry. About 2 million of those are kids in the commercial sex trade. (See www.ijm.org for more information and ways to help fight modern slavery.)
Meanwhile, I saw a delightful production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at our local repertory theater, and they had a lot of fun with the fairies. Jennifer Johansen, who played Titania, is one of my favorites, and her portrayal stuck in my mind, blurring Shakespeare’s Fairy Queen with the strength of other characters Jen has played.
The opening concept – immortality was evolution’s biggest mistake – had been in my idea file for years, waiting for an opportunity.
And then I over-dosed on dark chocolate and everything was a blur, and when I came to, “And Only the Eyes of Children” had happened.
Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?
Sort of. I haven’t written much with traditional Western fae, but I’m definitely not new to folkloric fiction. My Kitsune Tales series is set in old Japan and revolves around the youkai there, sort of the equivalent of our fairy and monster collections.
Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?
I departed a bit from traditional lore. Robin is half-Fae, an oddity resulting from the Fae’s (usually fruitless) attempt to breed. We’re given to understand that human-fae offspring are relatively rare and often carry a heavy biological penalty. Robin has to work at bit harder at many Fae skills, such as the use of magic, but it’s possible.
What is your favourite type of fairy, and why?
If I may go back to the Japanese youkai, Eastern fae, there are a lot of fun creatures from which to choose, and most are so very different from our own fairies. (An enormous disembodied foot which falls through your ceiling in the middle of the night and demands to be washed? A friendly household spirit made entirely of cast-off kitchen utensils?) But one of the most popular, and a personal favorite as well, is the kitsune, a shape-shifting fox.
In western lore, the Other is usually easy to identify. But kitsune can take the form of a human, or even of a particular human you know well. And they may be benevolent or quite malicious, while they appear to be like us. So many possibilities!
Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)
Ooh, a fun question!
I’m not sure I can say she’s my favorite, because I don’t think I like her, but I’m fascinated by Jim Butcher’s take on Queen Mab in The Dresden Files. And of course I’m not alone in thinking of Disney’s Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty as an iconic and delightfully scary fairy.
And allow me to end this interview with a short excerpt from Laura’s story. You’re welcome 😉
From And Only The Eyes of Children by Laura VanArendonk Baugh (161 words):
I’m one of the rare half-breed freaks myself, though not of the type to get an OMG!!!1! photo on the internet. No, I’m lucky enough to pass on a human street – which conversely means I’m pretty unlucky on what passes for a street in the Twilight Lands. So I tend to spend most of my time here.
Exactly here, in fact. This is a good place for us. What, you don’t think of Indianapolis as being a particularly supernatural city? That just means we’re keeping under the radar. I know, New Orleans and Chicago and places get all the arcane press, but think for a second. Indianapolis has two affectionate sobriquets: “the Crossroads of America,” for its prominent location on first the National Road and later several interstates, and “the Circle City,” for its efficient, nearly ritual, circle and grid layout.
Crossroads and circles, people, right in the advertising. If you can’t find the Fae in that, I can’t help you.