I absolutely adore fairy tales like how I absolutely adore classical mythology. I know this isn't one of my best openings, but I've been procrastinating on this post and I figured I should just out with it. It's a new thing I'm trying: thwarting my self-thwarting.
Back on topic though, fairy tales hold a special place in my heart. They were probably my first introduction to fantasy and magic both in picture book form and in movie form (thank you Disney). RANDOM ASIDE: Not going to lie, I'm something of a Disney junkie. If you're ever visiting Disneyland, drop me a line. I will get you your one-day pass' worth of Disneyland fun. Also, one-day does mean FULL day. You can't do a Disneyland run properly in half a day, and considering ticket prices, it wouldn't be worth it. Yes, I know where practically everything is. Yes, that's without a map. And yes, that's how many times I've been there. They were, shall we say, the earliest seeds placed in my undeveloped imagination, and as such heavily influence what I like to write and what I like to read.
This pertains to me particularly so at this moment because my NaNo novel was a reboot of something I only vaguely started in the last year or two, and it is based on a fairy tale. I also put myself through the torture of writing my own fairy tale for the novel, which meant I went and read/researched a bunch of fairy tales to get the cadence and style down. (Again, Surlalune for fairy tales plug. Why didn't I find this site sooner?!) Even so, my novel-verse fairy tale still doesn't sit well with me and I'll probably have to revise at least the second half of it. Mostly, what I want is for the entire novel to have a sort of fairy tale tonality to it. I want magic to be embedded into the story, but I want it to feel precariously paradoxical. I want the presence of magic in the world to feel eerie. That's not really happening at the moment, but it's nice to have goals, right?
While the collaborative work that Alz and I really should work on again (now that NaNo is over) is not of the fairy tale ilk, it does in turn draw from various mythologies and legends.
As for my reading tastes, I think the specific appeal of fairy tales for me lies in its ability to walk the line between charming and eerie, and they bring magic into otherwise seemingly ordinary worlds: children run errands for their parents, but then they meet a talking animal or a witch in the woods; peasant girls marry into better lives, but find their husbands ask them to fulfill extraordinary and impossible tasks; shoemakers try to make ends meet, and while they sleep, helpful elves come to answer their prayers. The settings and situations are often mundane enough, but magic is an acceptable intrusion. The world of fairy tales is liminal - real and imagined, enchanting and frightening, sweet and also grotesque, bittersweet.
They represent a type of story and reading experience that I particularly enjoy. I love The Last Unicorn so much because it's told with that sort of "fairy tale" voice, though dressed up to be more lyrical. Also, I just finished reading Susanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories, which is a collection of, well, fairy tales - some retold and others newly wrought. (Haven't read her novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell yet, but I have it.) The lovely part about the stories is that magical occurrences aren't always spelled out for you (very classic fairy tale-like); you're given just enough to draw conclusions but are left with a sense of wonder. It's that eeriness again, the sort of haunting quality the stranger fairy tales have. I suppose it's that feeling that magic could be "just around the corner."