No. 53: Joel Hans
Q. How has being the prose and managing editor for the Fairy Tale Review changed your own writing style?
If we talk about style as a matter of syntax and rhythm, it hasn’t changed much via Fairy Tale Review—I’ve found my own sources of inspiration for that as of late, from writers like Joyelle McSweeney, or Karen Green, or Lucy Corin. If we talk about style as a blanket term for my concerns as a writer, we’re getting somewhere—most fairy-tale retellings don’t dramatically differentiate the form from the origin piece, so I find myself wanting to take fairy tales and rip apart their forms, make them metafictional, or make them repetitious when they dream to venture outward. I also find lacks, or gaps in the conversation: some retellings aim for modernization but very few look forward, so I have found myself more curious about the science-fictional fairy tale. What is more like the classic hero’s journey than venturing into the dark unknown of space?
Q. There are so many different fairytale motifs out there that the Aarne–Thompson Tale Type Index is a necessary tool to categorize the general types of tales. If you could create a completely new category to go into this index, what would it be?
These classifications exist so that most any story could be placed into them, and the system works well—I would like to see not a new category, but a parallel index with new verbiage to describe our modern-day life, and perhaps encourage the possibility that even contemporary fairy tales might not always have to be positioned in the past: less butter and more almond butter; less hogs and more tofu; less coal and more hydrogen fuel cells, or, if we’re being less ambitious, gasoline. In almost every part of the world, even where old practices like running a mill, or shepherding sheep, still survive, the contemporary world invades. And where better but in fiction, to pretend that all of these invasions are good ones? Magic mirrors have nothing on smartphones, after all.
Q. What would you like to see more of in the Fairy Tale Review?
Because I like lists:
- More diversity, both in writers and the types of stories they tell, or use as inspiration.
- Realist stories with genuine fairy-tale craft (read “Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale”).
- More metafictional commentary on the motifs, tropes, and clichés of fairy tales.
- Anthropomorphized anything.
- If it hasn’t been clear as of yet, fairy tales that look to the future.
- Stories about disaster.
- Charming stories about disaster.
- Heroes who are more passive than anything else, or who are afraid.
- Fairy tales that attempt to make sense of the horrifying/cruel/awful/confused/strange/bizarre/awesome/beautiful/wonderful world in which we live right now.
- Things falling out of people’s mouths when they talk.
- Everything I haven’t listed here.
- Everything I haven’t even thought of yet.
Interview conducted by Fairy Tale Review Editorial Assistant Lucille Randazzo.
Joel Hans is the managing editor of Fairy Tale Review.