It’s another Fae-tastic Friday 🙂
This week I’ve got an interview with Shannon Phillips as well as an excerpt from her story, A Fairy Midwife.
Shannon Phillips’ Interview
What was the inspiration for your Fae story?
Mine is actually a modern spin on a traditional Celtic fairy tale. In its original form, “The Fairy Midwife” centers on a woman who is (at first unwittingly) hired to serve as a midwife to a fairy mother. She gradually realizes that all is not as it seems, and the story can take several turns from there: in some versions she is dutiful and circumspect, and is paid with an apron-full of coal dust that turns to gold when she reaches her home. In other versions, she’s more curious and takes a dab of fairy ointment for herself. When the father realizes that she can now see through glamors, he plucks out her eyes as punishment!
Anyway, I was inspired by that old folktale, but I wanted to bring it forward into the modern world. When I started to think about how modern technology would change the fairies and their world, I started to picture the Greenbud birthing center, and Madon, and Tara. The story almost told itself from that point.
Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories? If no, why do you write fairy stories? What is it about them that appeals to you?
No, it’s definitely not my first fairy story. The first story I ever published was a fairy tale, and I’ve just kept writing them since. My novel, The Millennial Sword, is all about fairies in San Francisco. I love folklore and mythology–I grew up on it, especially Celtic literature. From Lady Wilde, George MacDonald, and Lloyd Alexander all the way back to the Táin Bó Cúailnge and the Mabinogion…I love it all. It’s what I read, so it’s what I write.
Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story? Is that your favourite type of fae?
They’re pretty much your basic Sidhe–human-looking, mostly, but immortal and removed from human morality. I do write that kind of fairy pretty often, but I also love kelpies, selkies, brownies, tomte, pookas…even your little flower-skirted faires with butterfly wings. Love ’em all.
Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.) What is it about them that makes them special?
Ack, what a dangerous question! I will say Queen Mab because she is the one I would least like to offend.
Do you believe in fairies?
I believe in them as metaphor. I think they are real in the way that all stories can be real: they tell us real things about ourselves and the world, even if they do not, in the narrowest sense, exist.
Excerpt from The Fairy Midwife by Shannon Phillips:
The next call came in the afternoon, so she didn’t have the grogginess of sleep-deprivation or even the Listerine to blame. There was just the same dark sedan, the silent little driver with thistle-white hair, and, at the clients’ address, a nondescript apartment that looked like it had been hastily staged for a realtor’s tour. It had a couch and a rug and a spray of pussy willows on the coffee table, and at least this time they’d put in a bed. But there were no hangers in the closet, no toothpaste in the bathroom, and the refrigerator light didn’t even turn on.
The mom was gorgeous, like she could have been a model, but everything she said sounded exactly like the croaking of a toad. The dad had to give the medical history, and it was, again, some complicated story that didn’t quite make any sense. Tara made a noncommittal noise and set about inflating the birthing ball.
The mom croaked louder as contractions intensified. Tara rubbed her back and coached her to breathe: fast-fast-deep, fast-fast-deep. They moved from the ball to the bed to the tub, and ended up delivering on a birthing stool. Tara guided the dad to catch the baby, and found herself getting misty-eyed as the mom gave deep, throaty trills of joy.
The dad tried to pay her in leaves. Oak leaves, brown and crackling, a whole stack of them, and a little bag of acorn caps as well. “No,” Tara said gently, “Madon will send you a bill.” But he insisted on pressing them into her hands.
“So,” she said finally, “I guess you guys are fairies?”
“You weren’t supposed to know,” he said.
Available directly from the publisher:
Or find it online: