Pins & Needles No. 2: Joshua R. Helms

Interviews with Fairy Tale Authors

bad wolf
© A.T. Velazco


“Which path are you going to take,” asked the wolf,
“the path of needles or the path of pins?”

No. 2: Joshua R. Helms

How has your conception of storytelling changed since you started reading and writing fairy tales?

Reading fairy tales has reminded me of the magic and other-worldliness I felt when I read fantastical narratives as a kid. Writing fairy tales (and fantasy in general) has given me a space to recreate that magic, to tell a story and convey authentic emotions without worrying too much about reality. I’ve found that I particularly enjoy when fairy tales examine familiar experiences through the lens of unfamiliar and fantastical elements, and I’ve been trying to do this sort of thing more with my own writing. With “The Girl in the Sky” (which is part of an ongoing project centered around four characters who are part human / part mythical creature), I knew that I wanted to write a character who, from a very young age, felt like her humanity and the world around her were too limiting. So Kate has the ability to jump from tall trees and buildings without injury, and eventually she wakes up one morning to find that she’s grown wings.

What is your least favorite fairy tale trope? (e.g. happy endings, golden hair, beauty shock)

My least favorite fairy tale trope is definitely the Damsel in Distress / Prince Charming setup. I think it’s patriarchal nonsense and we certainly don’t need any more of that.

Which classic or contemporary fairy tale character would you like to meet in real life?

Chip from Beauty and the Beast (the animated Disney feature from 1991). I absolutely love anthropomorphism and I remember identifying with Chip when I saw this film as a kid.

Joshua R. Helms’ story “The Girl in the Sky” appears in The Yellow Issue of Fairy Tale Review.