Monday, January 22, 2018

Facebook to Film Ten-Part Series 'Sacred Lies', Based on The Handless Maiden

Maiden Without Hands Blythe Doll by Kat Caro
Note: The Blythe Doll art photos shown throughout are by Kat Caro and the various poses show aspects of her story. We thought it was a good time to show this tragic and touching art that we've been saving to share at the right time.

Sacred Lies is partly based on The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, a novel by Stephanie Oakes, and partly on Grimm's 'The Handless Maiden'.
(Sacred Lies is about a) handless teen who escapes from a cult and finds herself in juvenile detention, suspected of knowing who killed her cult leader. Casting is currently underway. (Deadline)

The ten-part series, is set to start production sometime between March and May this year (2018) will be screened on the new SVOD* platform Facebook Watch, which was set up last year. Facebook is partnering with Blumhouse Productions, who are known for specializing in "converting low-budget horror stories into major international hits" (eg. the Insidious franchises, the Paranormal Activity movies and the acclaimed Get Out.)
“Sacred Lies is an inventive twist on a time honored fairytale which we believe will surprise and stir the Facebook Watch audience and we’re excited to be the studio producing this provocative series.” (Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold, co-presidents, Blumhouse Television) 
“This a young female protagonist we’ve never seen on screen before,” said (showrunner Raelle) Tucker**. “She’s complex, brave, funny…and sometimes dangerous. And she has no hands. But she refuses to let that, or her bizarre, brutal past define her or limit her. That’s the message of our series: no matter what life throws at you – ultimately only you have the power to decide what you believe and what you become. I’m beyond excited and honored to bring this unique, inspiring, badass character to life. “
Facebook Watch will be taking quite a departure from their current fare. Facebook Watch is currently known for it's "gimmicky reality shows and clips from popular internet creators" (to quote The Verge) and will be taking quite a departure for, Sacred Lies, Facebook Watch's first scripted drama, the first of many projects the social network giant is planning on, with a projected budget of $1bn on contact (yes, billion - which is still modest compared to Hulu, Amazon and Netflix for 2018), something which has intrigued filmmakers and property holders because of the "stated intent".
Translation - filmmakers: time to pitch your series and movie ideas! This is a great time for fairy tales. People are finding expression, solace, hope, a new perspective - as well as escape - in old tales and in retelling old tales in new (and needed) ways rat present, and, wonderfully, lesser known ones are coming back into popular circulation. 'The Handless Maiden' is one example of this. 'Baba Yaga', in her various complex iterations, along with 'Vasilisa', is another, as well as 'Snow White and Rose Red', and it's worth also mentioning that Krampus is once again a known figure among pop culture geeks and beyond.

As a side note, it's nice to see fairy tale protagonists who deal with disability as well. It's representation that's been lacking, apart from various mermaid explorations, but mermaids are more seen to represent previously marginalized groups such as LGBT folk. Acknowledged physical disability, whether by birth, accident or other, could use some hero representation and hopeful fairy tale retellings.

* Streaming Video On Demand
** Raellee Tucker was formerly Executive Producer on the popular HBO series, True Blood

Sources: KFTV,, The Verge

Kat Caro's Blythe Doll art was created for and shown in the Fairies & Folklore Once Upon A Blyth International Doll Exhibition in 2015

About her art doll, Kat Caro says: "The Maiden without Hands - My submission for the Fairies and Folklore show at Auguste Clown Gallery in Melbourne, Australia in 2015. She was inspired by Grimm's fairy tale, The Maiden without Hands, which I have always been fascinated by. She specifically reenacts the moment she is told to flee the kingdom with the newborn prince to escape the devil's false message that she be executed. She has removable sterling silver hands, as given to her by the king, but she still carries her chopped off hands on her back and the prince in a sling."

Friday, January 19, 2018

'Cunning & Cleverness': AFTS' First Short Story Competition Is Now Open For Submissions

Calling all new, clever, sly and tricksy stories for a new year.

Yes, there will be prizes (see the full image below) and yes entry is free for members. Otherwise you can pay $25 to become a member for a full year and not only receive entry rights, but other perks (including discounts for events) by way of the AFTS as well. You do not have to be Australian or living in Australia to be a member; just supportive of the society and their mission.

They will consider flash-fiction of 100 words through to stories up to 1500 words, as long as they are on theme. Submission guidelines and other details can be found at the official website for the AFTS HERE. Any further questions, please contact the AFTS directly via one of their social media sites or their official web page.

Good luck to all our adventurous and tricksy writers!

Note: This short story competition announcement from The Australian Fairy Tale Society is reproduced in full from their social media.
Hello dear fairy tale spinners! 
Bold heroes and heroines, tricksters, thieves and animal helpers. The Ezine is launching a short story fairy tale competition. 
Theme: 'Cunning & Cleverness' 
Word limit: 100 - 1500 words
Closing date: 17th April 2018 
It's time to let your imagine swirl into the realm of fairy tales. Re-construct your favourite fairy tale or spin us a new yarn. There are prizes to be won and the three winning entries will be published in the winter edition of the Ezine. Our external judges are Monique Mulligan, Sophie Masson and Nike Sulway. 
For more information regarding our submission guidelines please click on the link below. 
Happy writing! 
Enchanted regards,
The AFTS Ezine Editorial Troupe

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Happy New Year of the Dog!

Hans Tegner, from Fairy tales and stories, by Hans Christian Andersen, New York, 1900
(We know we have posted this before as a header, but it's probably our favorite illustration from this tale. We think it has quite the Gustav Doré feel about it.)
Now that kids are back to school and people have returned from their various 'vacationings' (and those who hold on to the Yuletide season until it's uconsidered seemly have finally given in to 'de-Christmas-sy-ing' their houses #guiltybutnotsorry), we are popping in to say:

May this New Year bring change for the better,
as well as joy, comfort, love, health and,
dare I say it, prosperity
(especially by way of friendly saucer-eyed dogs!)

There is a variant of the Tinderbox called The Soldier and the Candle, described as "The Aladdin of the Basque Country". (A condensed text can be found HERE, though you may need the help of Google translate to read it.) It's an interesting way to look at the tale and opens up the edges away from the politic-heavy subtext Andersen deliberately wove into his fairy tale. It would be interesting to see some retellings taking this slant for a spin on a storytellers wheel, especially with some new takes on the sleeping princess issue. (A hint to all fairy tale writers for the year!)

Some more images from this favorite tale filled with delightful, dish-eyed dogs below. All of these are by Hans Tegner as well.

All images above and below are by Hans Tegner,
from Fairy tales and stories, by Hans Christian Andersen, New York, 1900
A quick reminder that much fairy tale news is being tweeted - and retweeted - via our account over on Twitter HERE, along with other folks we have recommended, if you're needing a daily fix of fairy tales (and who isn't?).

A very Happy New Year 2018 to all our readers!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Timeless Tales Modernizes Rumpelstiltskin

Hi, fairy tale fans! This is Tahlia from Timeless Tales Magazine. In case you haven't heard yet, we have just released our Rumpelstiltskin issue. It's full of foolish choices, unforeseen consequences, and battles of wits. 

Here are a few highlights showcasing how our authors transformed a goofy little trickster tale into modern narratives:

  • "Tears Seal the Deal" is a retelling set in the Syrian Refugee Crisis
  • "Void" draws a connection between Rumpel's desire for a child and the frustrations of  infertility.
  • "The Early Years" explores how Rumpel learned to spin straw into gold.
  • "The Deal" allows the Miller's Daughter to find some loopholes in Rumpelstiltskin's bargain and shows what happens when she attempts to outwit him.
Here's a look at some of the covers:

These are just a few of the adventures awaiting you inside our latest issue. Enjoy the read at


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Transformation of FLOTUS: A Dark Fairy Tale for the Season

In April of 2017, writer Kate Imbach wrote a reflection on Melania Trump, the then-new FLOTUS, as considered through the lens of Melania's personal photos, titled Fairytale Prisoner by Choice: The Photographic Eye of Melania Trump. The article was prompted by the odd issue that the new first lady was so very absent, compared to most other FLOTUS'  of the past.
Imbach wrote:
Why won’t the first lady show up for her job? Why? I became obsessed with this question and eventually looked to Melania’s Twitter history for answers. I noticed that in the three-year period between June 3, 2012 and June 11, 2015 she tweeted 470 photos which she appeared to have taken herself. I examined these photographs as though they were a body of work. 
Everyone has an eye, whether or not we see ourselves as photographers. What we choose to photograph and how we frame subjects always reveals a little about how we perceive the world. For someone like Melania, media-trained, controlled and cloistered, her collection of Twitter photography provides an otherwise unavailable view into the reality of her existence. Nowhere else — certainly not in interviews or public appearances — is her guard so far down. 
What is that reality? She is Rapunzel with no prince and no hair, locked in a tower of her own volition, and delighted with the predictability and repetition of her own captivity.
Written during the time when Melania declined moving to the White House and opted to stay in Trump Tower, it's an interesting assessment, and although sympathy from readers varies, the consensus seems to be that loneliness is, indeed an ongoing factor in this woman's life. The photos from high up - an actual tower - with the same landscape and differing only in weather and time of day, do give the viewer pause.

Just as interesting is the interpretation of Melania's photos of the interior of Trump Tower:

 We can all picture the gilded monstrosity of the Trump home from publicity photos (chandeliers, sad boy astride a stuffed lion, golden pillars), but it is a different place through Melania’s eyes. She takes photographs inside her house at weird, skewed angles. It is a strange effect when the half-obscured objects, chairs and ceilings, are all so golden. It looks like what a terrified little girl held captive in a ogre’s fairytale castle might see when she dares to sneak a peek through her fingers. (source: Kate Imbach)

If you haven't seen this essay finding the parallels between Rapunzel and Melania, pre and post FLOTUS status, it's worth a read. While the writer is clearly critical of Melania's 'fitness' to be a first lady, its' nevertheless a very different look at Melania Trump as a person. You can find the whole article, with Melania's photos throughout, HERE.


Melania is now at the White House and chose to take an active - and apparently personal - role in decorating her new(ish) home, for the season. It's safe to say the public reaction to photos has been, less than warm...

A tweet from Donald Haase:

My retweet & comment:

And back to the growing list of folklore and fairy tale references mentioned (note: I have screen-captured the tweets referred to and inserted them after my tweets so readers can easily see what's being referred to, but the links in the embedded tweets also send you to the original tweet for the sources):



Note how the feet appear in the photo - enlarged below (it's obviously a lighting issue but it's still an interesting connection):

This comment (screen-capped below) expanded the supernatural narrative. Meant to entertain, it's also an interesting place to go:

A reply to one of the earlier tweets, pointing out the use of folklore:

And the tweet that prompted me to put it all in one place:

As an interesting callback to the original article about Melania in her tower, I thought I'd finish with the final sentence by Imbach, which has more resonance than ever:
 She’s living inside a dark fairytale, and in fairytales the women trapped in towers never save anyone but themselves.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"House of Mystery" - Review by Carina Bissett

(A collection of fairy tale poems)

by Courtney Bates-Hardy

Review by Carina Bissett
Jacket description: 
House of Mystery is a beautifully dark and vivid collection of poems that tears down our familiar ideas about fairy tales. These are not poems about privileged princesses who live happily ever after; these are poems about monsters, mothers, witches and mermaids. They explore the pain of change and womanhood, and transform the way we think about fairy tales.
Fairy tales are full of ivory towers, woodland huts, and stately castles. Behind the doors, you’ll find mothers and witches and monsters. Some doors lead to sorrow, others to safety. Poet Courtney Bates-Hardy explores the world through the eyes of mermaids and princesses, witches and wolves in her debut poetry collection House of Mystery.
The collection opens with a trip under the sea... Undines haunt the shallows and sirens beckon, but at the same time, these water women subvert their stories. They slip their bonds, revise expectations. When these mermaids smile, they expose sharp teeth. Modern issues of silenced women are hinted at throughout, but never directly addressed.
In the second section "Hating Cinderella", the poet continues the fairy tale theme yet continues to give her characters even more agency Whereas the sirens and mermaids stay confined to the role of victims, the fairy tale heroines in the second section reshape traditional roles. Defiance and power are no longer hinted at but take physical form. These women literally slip their captors’ knots, wear glass ceilings on their feet, and birth their monsters with savage glee. Bates-Hardy reminds her readers that the only Happily Ever Afters out there are the ones we choose for ourselves.
In the titular final chapter of House of Mystery, Bates-Hardy finally hits her stride by crossing into the modern world. Titles such as “Office Girl” and “Dishes” reveal the mundane amidst the magical. However, when the fairy tale tropes are revisited, they are done so without the familiar sugar coating found in the sanitized tales. In “Donkeyskin” the narrator is trapped in a feminine role despite her tomboy nature. Her dresses smother and her shoes pinch. Only at night is she able to strip down to the raw core of who she really is. In the original fairy tale, the disguised princess has to hide her royalty beneath the donkey skin, only allowing herself to embrace her beauty in isolation. In Bates-Hardy’s version, the narrator struggles against the concepts of conventional femininity, only feeling that she can embrace her wild nature at night.
In the end, "Sirens" sets a tone that isn’t carried throughout the rest of the chapbook.  After moving through the entire collection, it becomes apparent that this selection of nine poems was previously published separately, a stand-alone chapbook titled Sea Foam. While the moody, melancholy tone of this section stands on its own, it doesn’t mesh with the other poems.

Overall, Bates-Hardy is at her best when revealing fairy tale themes in a modern-day setting. The accessible language and contemporary characters make this poetry relatable to everyone struggling for individuality in a cookie cutter world.  
This review was written voluntarily, without any compensation or affiliation with any of the authors or editors for business purposes. A review copy was provided without obligation.
Carina Bissett is the Social Media Manager of Timeless Tales Magazine, an official partner of Once Upon A Blog. Her website is

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cinderella: Stop Blaming the Victim - A Timely Interpretation of Disney's 1950's 'Cinderella'

A thought-provoking video was posted this morning on YouTube and we felt it so important, we decided to do a full post, rather than just retweeting. (Video is embedded below.)

This interesting  - and wonderful - analysis of the iconic 1950's Cinderella, couldn't have come at a more opportune time. And it might just make you pull out the movie for a re-run too, because, yes, it's that empowering.

By the way - important to note here, is that it mentions that even the Disney Company itself, now considers the Cinderella animated movie as passive, and not the best role-model for girls, with the title character relying on others to be rescued.
Yet, from the video:
But the criticisms (of the film) usually focus on our culture's shared interpretation of Cinderella, not what the character actually says and does in the film.
And yes, ironically, that conversation has been largely influenced by Disney's own marketing!
Critics of the movie probably feel they're espousing girl power by attacking the damaging idea that a happy ending equals a handsome prince. But counterintuitively, the tendency to dismiss Cinderella might actually be a little sexist. 
Perhaps there was more thought - possibly even respect - put into the movie than anyone has realized. From this video analysis, it would suggest so, or at least that the fairy tale source variants it drew on had enough substance there to subliminally affect - for the better - how Cinderella was portrayed (credit was given to Perrault as the source, but other variants were looked at during research in early stages of development as well).
KenAnderson - development for Disney's Cinderella (1950)

For the 'timely' context - and why this conversation is important to have right now - (since this post will quickly go to the archive and found later, when the world is, hopefully, different), we are in the midst of a deluge of accusations against many figures in positions of power, citing sexual misconduct, abuse and rape. These allegations are being made by people in the wake of the Weinstein accusations, who have finally felt able to come forward and be heard (though for many this is not the first time they are telling their stories). 

As the backlash continues, with people scoffing at the stories, even sometimes attacking those abused, we feel it's important to keep explaining, that reporting abuse, standing up to abuse, is very, very difficult. It's not overstating it to say "silence has equaled survival" for many, many people, on many levels, including physical safety. No one owes anyone their stories - or the details, or names. #metoo It is the first time, the pervasiveness of this abuse is clear and the victims are not being dismissed. So many are coming forward now, precisely because there is safety in numbers, but never underestimate just how hard that is to do. It changes everything and affects not only the individuals but their families too.

Fairy tales are full of women who have been abused and people are drawn to different tales, not only because they sometimes see themselves in those characters, but also because they find hope in those stories too. The recent Disney/Branagh live-action action Cinderella, though not perfect, took care to more clearly show feminine strength at work in an abusive situation, making people take a second look at the Cinderella fairy tale, as well as the classic animated film it was based on, and garnering an appreciation for it that has been largely lacking for the past few generations.

This awesome video analysis that highlights the strength of that 1950's Cinderella, is wonderful to watch - clear, beautiful and explaining the points with clips. It's a little longer than your usual internet clips, at 13-ish minutes, but highly recommended (you won't be bored).
There are two specific sections for which we have taken the time to transcribe the narrative so that the observations/ interpretation won't be lost, should the video link ever not work.

The first excerpt, analysing the Fairy Godmother appearing, is new to us with regard to the Disney Cinderella movies (both of them), though in some of the Cinderella variants from around the world, this manifestation of the Fairy Godmother as Cinderella's 'wish', that is, a maternal figure of help and guidance, is more clear. Although we don't believe this was the intent of the filmmakers to show this (based on our longtime research, though, to be clear, we are not experts on the making of this film) it makes a wonderful sense and feels like one of those wonderful subconscious ideas that were included. Perrault, who was the writer to first include the fairy godmother, does not appear to have added the magical figure for this intention, but we are rather tickled that, using this interpretation, Disney's version is the one that links this idea back to many other versions of Cinderella.
We also love that this is another example of amplifying the potential of things - that transformation (of things and people) is possible because of what already existed.
Cinderella's inner strength and tireless imagination manifest physically as the Fairy Godmother. It's when she believes she's hit rock bottom that her Fairy Godmother materializes, and the reprise of "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" tells us that she is the embodiment of Cinderella's dreaming or her heart's wish. When she needs it most, Cinderella has willed a loving maternal figure into existence. Since she has no real family, the fairy represents her determination to mother herself. 
The Fairy Godmother's magic work through imagination, creativity, and resourcefulness -- all qualities that Cinderella relies on for her survival, as that represent her true powers. Each magical transformation finds hidden potential in what Cinderella already has. A pumpkin becomes the carriage, the mice become horses, and Cinderella's horse, who assumes he'll pull the carriage, becomes the coachman. 
Gus's transformation especially symbolizes how imagination can help us overcome our oppressors. When he's transformed into a horse, he's finally able to escape Lucifer's clutches.

This second transcription, looking at Bruno, the dog, being paralleled with Cinderella isn't a new thought, so much as it possibly the most succinct example we've ever heard of a victim juggling the ever-present issues of needing to sometimes to be passive for the purpose of survival, versus taking action.
Cinderella demonstrates that real kindness is active, not passive. Rescuing her friends in this oppressive household is brave and heroic... When Gus gets stuck in a mousetrap, we see that Cinderella is quick to help those who can't help themselves. And she's spirited -- she doesn't hesitate to tease her friends -- or stand up for herself in her interactions with Lucifer. These interactions are important to show us that Cinderella's not a pushover. She knows when she's being treated unfairly, and, when she can object, she does. But there's a distinction between this and someone who represents a truly grave threat to her safety. When Cinderella tells Bruno to stop dreaming of chasing Lucifer, it's because disobeying Lady Tremaine's orders could result in losing his home. She knows that Bruno's situation could become parallel to her own, and she's been forced to value practicality over justice in order to survive. Near the end we see a return to this parallel between Cinderella and Bruno. At this critical moment, Cinderella decides that Bruno should disobey orders, despite the dangers, because they have a real opportunity to escape.
To be able to recognize that moment, and then act, is strong indeed.
Artist unknown - created for Disney's Cinderella (1950)

Note: (Emphasis in bold on transcripts added by us.)