Exclusive Guest Post by Bridget Hodder, MG Author of The Rat Prince, on “Why Fairy Tales? A Theory of Magic”

Hi guys! For the next few months, most of the authors I am going to have on the blog are going to Middle Grade authors. Although I am still going to be very active in the YA community, my heart has lodged itself deeper in MG fiction. I have met so many wonderful MG authors since the New Year has started, and readers of all ages should pick up their books. Today, Bridget Hodder is here to answer the question, “Why are fairy tales so popular?” Her answer: magic.


About the BookThe Rat Prince

AN ILA CHILDREN’S CHOICE LIST STARRED SELECTION

So, you think you know the tale of Cinderella? Think again!

The dashing Prince of the Rats–who’s in love with Cinderella–is changed into her coachman on the night of the big ball. Together, they’re about to turn the legend (and the evening) upside down on their way to a most unexpected happy ending!

A sparkling debut full of magic and adventure, from a fresh new voice in fairytale fiction.

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Why Fairy Tales? A Theory of Magic

My debut novel, THE RAT PRINCE, is a re-imagining of the tale of Cinderella. When I appear at author festivals, give workshops, or visit schools, readers almost always ask me: Why are fairy tales still so popular?

It’s a great question!

What is the reason why people have loved this particular type of story for hundreds of years? Clearly, stories couldn’t stand the test of centuries unless they appealed to something universal inside us. So maybe the real question is: what’s universal about fairy tales?

To understand, we have to look at their history. Most fairy tales began as the oral storytelling of common, unlettered people– long before they were ever written down. They were told or sung aloud to family and friends in villages and tribal lands and towns. They were carried from place to place by minstrels, merchants, sailors, settlers, and travelers. They were shared because they universally resonated, and because they universally entertained. (No boring tale would survive this test!)

But why did they resonate and entertain so deeply?

Everyone seems to have a take on this. Here’s mine.

The Rat PrinceI think they were loved back then, and are still loved today, because of the central role played in these tales by magic. If magic isn’t the main event in a particular fairy tale, it shimmers in the fairytale air, nonetheless.

People long for magic. They have throughout the ages.

But how is it that a longing for magic–which is something no one has ever actually experienced–can unite folks across boundaries of culture, place and time?

Here’s my theory.

Most people have always had to work too hard, simply to stay alive. In the days of Rapunzel and Puss in Boots, peasants were forced to give most of their crops to their overlords, slaves were forced to work for their captors, farmers were up before dawn and could starve at the mercy of nature, or be executed at the whims of kings or queens. In these situations, the dream of magic is most compelling. And of course, those situations are still with us today, in their original forms and in millions of variations on the theme.

If you’re doing backbreaking labor day in and day out, but you’re still just scraping by, you’re going to dream of luxury, ease and success: becoming Queen, marrying the Princess, living happily ever after, being powerful and rich.

But interestingly, luxury and power were not the sum total of what the creators of fairy tales wanted!

They wanted these things, not the way people usually got them in the real world– by stealing from other tribes, perhaps, or forcing people to build palaces for them, or skimming off the profits of peasants. They wanted wealth without anyone having to sacrifice themselves to get it. They wanted luxury without betraying their sense of wrong and right, their consciences, or their faith. They knew what suffering was, and they wanted none of it, for themselves or for anyone else.

That’s why they needed magic!

And it’s why we still do.

What a beautiful dream: Make a wish. Wave a wand. No harm, no backbreaking labor, no suffering will come to anyone but the villains, and beauty and harmony will result. Peace and pleasure, without pain for anyone.

Guilt-free, cruelty-free wish fulfillment.

That’s what fairytale magic offers. And I think it’s why the stories endure.

Long live fairy tales, and the awesome people who love them!


Giveaway

Don’t miss this giveaway I am hosting on Twitter for a chance to win one of TWO copies of Bridget’s The Rat Prince! Perfect for fans of Cinderella, fairy tales, and retellings and of all ages!


About the AuthorBridget Hodder

Bridget Hodder began her career in archaeology, translating ancient documents in order to tell the stories of civilizations from the distant past. Then she realized she had her own stories to tell. THE RAT PRINCE, published by Macmillan/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux, is her first novel.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read The Rat Prince? Do you like MG fantasy retellings?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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