This month I welcome a special guest, Katelyn Barbee on the occasion of having her short story, The Miller’s Daughter featured in the Just-us League anthology entitled, “From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings”. I’ll ask her about her short story, writing, and fairy tales. Before we start, here is the blurb of the collection.
In the international collection, *From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings, new life is given to fairy tales, both classic and obscure.
Mythical creatures put the fairy in Fairy Tale. Mermaids, selkies, and ocean guardians experience the best and worst of humanity; sisters encounter an unusually friendly bear; a brave bride meets a silly goose; and a spinner of gold sets the record straight.
Urban fantasies modernize classics: a Frenchman learns the truth about magic, his past, and his girlfriend; a girl sets out to find love but receives a curse; and today’s naughty list makes Old Saint Nick not-so-jolly.
New worlds bring a fresh sense of wonder! In the future, a young woman fights for her people and herself; a bastard son finds acceptance in a world ruled by women; and a farmer’s wits win the heart of a frosty king.
Discover unexpected twists on old favorites, and fall in love with new tales and worlds to explore!
So, hello Katelyn! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi there! *waves* Thanks for having me. J
Hmm, a bit about myself? Let’s see. I’m a vampire. Okay, not really, but I do work nights, so I often do feel like one. I’m currently working on a bachelor’s in biology, but my biggest love is writing. And cats. I love cats.
On the writing front, I’m editing the first book in my series of YA fantasy novels. Hopefully, I’ll be looking to publish it next year and will have the sequel finished.
Between writing, editing, critiquing, and school, I’ve usually got my hands full. When I don’t, I’m usually reading or catching the newest releases at the cinema.
What kind of genres do you enjoy writing? Have you ever rewritten a Fairy Tale before?
Fantasy mainly, but I dip into others. I’m currently working on a YA fantasy series and each book seems to incorporate bits of different genres. Book one qualifies as an adventure novel while book two has turned into a murder mystery. They’re both still fantasies, but I work in elements of other genres when they’re called for. There’s also plenty of humor in all of them, and a bit of horror, romance, and drama. You know, everything a good book should have. Lol.
I basically use whatever suits the story. I like to think that by not limiting myself to strictly fantasy elements, I’m making a better story because of it.
Well, so technically, yes, I’ve rewritten a fairy tale before, or at least, I’ve taken elements of it and reworked them into my books. I’ve actually incorporated The Miller’s Daughter into my series, though it’s a side story. It doesn’t affect the main plot at all, but it does help give the world texture and a bit of history.
Could you tell us a bit more about your short story, The Miller’s Daughter? What inspired it?
Sure. When Han, a young soldier, finds his former sweetheart locked up in the king’s dungeon, he’s forced to use his magic to spin gold in order to save her. But all magic has a price and leads to unexpected consequences for the pair.
My version generally follows the original storyline (with some twists thrown in of course!), but instead of being told like a regular fairy tale, I wrote it as a letter to the Brothers Grimm. Or more exactly, Han did, as a way to tell the story as it really happened.
It’s one of thirteen stories in the upcoming anthology, From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings, being published by my writing group, the Just-Us League.
It’s interesting seeing it come to fruition given myself and another writer in the anthology *waves at Matthew Dewar* were the ones who originally pitched it to our group leader. It’s sort of weird to think that just six months ago, it was just an idea.
As for inspiration, I’ve always had a soft spot for the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. That, and questions. Lots of questions.
Why would Rumpelstiltskin perform magic for this girl and want her baby for his price? What’s up with the king? How does the king go from threatening to kill a girl to marrying her so fast? Why wouldn’t he have her spin more gold? Why does Rumpelstiltskin agree to give the queen three days to find his name and what’s the significance of it?
Okay, so Rumpelstiltskin asking the miller’s daughter for her first born child is kind of an extreme price, but hey, a deal is a deal. And then Rumpelstiltskin even goes as far as to amend the deal and give her some guesses at his name, which is pretty charitable given he could’ve just taken the baby and been done with her if he wanted. Didn’t make him seem like such a bad guy when I thought about it.
Then there’s the king who’s a major jerk. I always disliked the way he locks up the poor miller’s daughter and threatens to kill her if she can’t spin all this straw into gold by morning, despite the fact that she never claims to be able to do so. And then after the third day, he does a 180 and marries her! He went from wanting to kill her to making her his queen and never has her attempt to make gold again!
I suppose that’s really the heart of it: I asked too many questions and wanted answers. So I set out to create a tale that would answer them sufficiently.
What was your favorite fairy tale as a child? Why?
Oh, that’s a hard one actually. I suppose I don’t have one favorite as much as I have several. Aladdin. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Beauty and the Beast. Cinderella. Diamonds and Toads. Little Red Riding Hood. Rumpelstiltskin. The Maiden Without Hands. The Robber Bridegroom. Water and Salt. Plus many, many others.
Beyond the romance, adventure, and magic they hold, I suppose I’ve always enjoyed fairy tales because of the message they often contain. For most tales, the hero or heroine has to endure hardships to get what they want. It can be a wicked stepmother, a supernatural creature looking to make a deal, or even a jealous rival looking to destroy them, but there’s usually a series of obstacles needing to be overcome in order for the hero to achieve their goals. Most of the time, they do this by being a good or kind person, and that’s the important part. The heroes only get ahead by doing good deeds, aiding others, or making some sort of personal sacrifice. Sort of like Karma. Do good things, and good things will come back to you. That’s the message I took away.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Probably the end of high school. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, but it wasn’t until I was headed for college that writing as a career seemed like a viable possibility.
Looking further back, however, I can actually pinpoint the moment I was bitten by the writing bug. One year, for a literature class in junior high, we’d been assigned to come up with our own myths for some everyday object. It was just supposed to be a one, maybe two-page assignment.
I wrote ten and wasn’t even close to being finished. I’ve always loved reading myths from around the world and the idea of creating my own set my imagination whirling. It’s never really stopped.
Are you a full-time writer or do you have a “real world” job?
Haha, I wish I was a full-time writer! That would be amazing.
Currently, I work overnights as a behavioral health tech (BHT). It’s not the easiest shift, and I have to sleep during the day because of it, but it does provide me a lot of time to work on my writing. It’s a tradeoff I’m happy to make most nights.
What is your biggest dream as a writer?
Um, is it too cliché to say become a huge bestseller and get a movie deal? I mean, I know the odds of that happening are astronomical, but hey, it’d be cool, right?
Okay, now that I’ve gotten the crazy option out of my system, ultimately, I’d like to be able to make enough off my writing to live comfortably and be a full-time author. If I could do that, I’d be a very happy woman.
Who is your favorite writer?
J.K. Rowling. Hands down.
Probably not a unique answer, but it’s the one that rings the truest for me. I was at the perfect age when the Harry Potter books came out and they’re a major part of my childhood. Even as an adult, I’m still extremely fond of them and probably read them at least once a year. They shaped what I thought a good story should be and helped develop my tastes in both writing and reading.
Have you been published before? Where?
This will be my first publication actually, though hopefully not the last!
If you could be a Disney character who would you be?
Ooo, that’s a tough question! Hmm, let me think …
Probably Mulan. That’s who I get on those online “Which Character Are You” quizzes actually funnily enough. I love that she defies expectations and kicks butt, though that’s actually not my favorite thing about her. What really makes me love her is that she puts others ahead of herself. She knows her father won’t survive another war, so she takes his place, despite knowing what awaits her should she be discovered. And in my book, that makes her a hero.
Thank you so much for your answers and I wish you the best of luck with your writing! Keep us updated with your success stories.
Thanks for having me and will do! 🙂
Her Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/katelyn.barbee.9