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From the darkness of Grimm to Disney’s fantasies: what draws us to fairy tales?

I’m delighted to welcome author Mary Waibel back to my blog today.  You may remember Mary’s visit last year, and if you weren’t around then, please do check out her brilliant interview.

Mary is the author of the Princess of Valendria series (Quest of the Hart, Charmed Memories, and Different Kind of Knight).  Her stories are a fabulous twist on the old fairy tales, and it’s a great pleasure to welcome Mary back here again!

* * * *

mary waibel, quest of the hart , helena fairfaxWhat is it that draws us to fairytales?

Is it the darkness of the original tales? These were no bedtime tales told to send children to sleep with dreams of happy places. No, they were warnings, complete with very un-happy endings. I remember when Disney’s The Little Mermaid came out. That winter I was at my grandfather’s, so I was probably about 12, and was watching the movie on TV. But this wasn’t the Disney story. No, this was a cartoon version of the real tale. For those of you who don’t know, the mermaid turned into sea foam and the prince married a human girl.The mermaid gave up her voice and her life and didn’t get the guy. Not a happy-ever-after.

For me, I’m not drawn to the tales for their darkness, although I must admit I do like comparing the original tales to the modern versions we see in cartoons and books nowadays. No, I’m a romantic at heart and really enjoy reading a story that ends in happy-ever-after, even if all the odds seem stacked against it. After all, what are the odds Charming and Cinderella ever would have met each other in real life?

I guess in the end, I’m more of a modern fairytale girl, drawn to them for their promise of what could be. Magic exists, but it doesn’t fix all things. Love is true and lasts forever. The good guy gets the girl, and the underdog wins. I like knowing that “Once upon a time” will end with “And they all lived happily ever after.” How about you? What draws you to fairytales?


mary waibel, different kind of knight, helena fairfax“Happily-ever-after isn’t guaranteed. Sometimes you have to fight for it.”

Through a twist of fate, Princess Gabrielle became First Knight of the King’s Elite Guard, a position always held by the second born male. She’s spent years proving to the Minsters of Faldaera she’s capable of leading the king’s Army.

When mythical creatures plague her kingdom, Rielle is sent to capture Captain Brody, the alleged culprit behind the attacks and the man who broke her heart four years ago.

Brody, Crown Prince of Delphine, is living in self-imposed exile, atoning for the sins of his father. But Fate has different plans for him. Tired, beaten down, and ready to give up on life, he is tossed into the path of the one person he would do anything for―Princess Gabrielle.

With a traitor in her ranks, and a mark on her head, Brody joins forces with Rielle, hoping to keep the woman he loves safe. Happily-ever-after is not guaranteed, and mythical creatures aren’t the only danger the couple face. As battles rage, Rielle has the chance to prove herself a capable leader, but will doing so cost her the love of her life?


MuseItUp  /  Amazon  /  Barnes and Noble  /   Kobo  /  Smashwords  /   Omnilit   /  iBooks

Mary lives with her husband, son and two cats. When she isn’t twisting fairytales, she enjoys reading, playing games, watching hockey, and camping. Her Princess of Valendria series (Quest of the Hart, Charmed Memories, Different Kind of Knight) are available from MuseItUp Publishing and other major retailers. Her Faery Marked (book 1 in the Faery Series) will be available from BookFishBooks this summer.

You can find Mary Waibel at:

* * * *

Thanks so much for coming today, Mary!  I’ve been following your Oh What a Knight! book tour and loving it.  (Great name for a tour!)

Do you love fairy tales?  What’s your favourite ever fairy tale or fairy tale retelling?  Any questions or comments at all, please let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

37 thoughts on “From the darkness of Grimm to Disney’s fantasies: what draws us to fairy tales?

  1. I love a fairy tale that has been turned into a modern day story. Sometimes they are subtle and sometime not so subtle and it fascinates me when I “get” the similarities. Nice to meet you Mary and good luck with your novel.


    1. I love fairy tale retellings, too, Margaret. And I especially love them if they have a different twist, like Mary’s Valendria series. Fairy tales continue to fascinate us – even us grown ups! Thanks for coming by!


    2. Thanks, Margaret. I love retellings too. In fact, I inadvertently retold a fairy tale in my second book, CHARMED MEMORIES, that I didn’t realize until two readers pointed it out to me :-)


  2. Enjoyed the interview and your book sounds great. Love the title. I cut my teeth on adventures taking place in dark forests, filled with brambles, magic spells, witches and twisty endings. I still have my first book of Grimm’s fairy tales. I think it set the pace for the kind of story I love to write…an escape into a magical world where things aren’t always what they seem.


  3. I also enjoy comparing original fairy tales to their modern, “Disneyfied” versions. Seems like I always prefer the newer, happier endings. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could Disneyfy life? :)


    1. I think it would be cool to live a Disneyfied life. Imagine walking down the street and breaking into song with the birds and the dogs and the cats- it would be so much fun! Of course, you’d have to be in to that type of thing. I know my son and hubby wouldn’t like it as much as I would ;-)


    2. The real ending to The Little Mermaid is awful, Heather! I couldn’t believe it when I read it as a child. No wonder Disney changed it. And I’m with Mary on the breaking into song. Especially if the animals also did my housework :)


  4. Loved reading this interview and Mary your Princess of Valendria Series is definitely on my TBR list! :-) I truly enjoyed reading your FAERY MARKED book so I know I am in for a treat! … and I LOVE the title of this book too. :-)


    1. Thanks, Anita!

      I have to confess. I borrowed the title from a song by singer/actor Christian Kane. I enjoyed the song, and in this case, the play on words in the title worked with the story.


      1. What a small world. My husband and I have followed fellow Texan Christian Kane for years, ever since we heard him sing on the series Angel. I’ll have to check out the song on youtube.


  5. Hey, Mary and Helena. I remember my parents reading fairy tales to me from when I was really young. One of my best memories from childhood was directing and staring in (I was a bit of an over-achiever or just bossier than everyone else. LOL) Cinderella. We performed in the garage with the audience sitting in the driveway. Costumes and the whole deal. I confess to not remembering how we did the presto-chango from servant to princess dress. As to HEAs? I don’t read a book if it’s not got one of those. :) Your covers are really great, Mary. Continued best wishes with this series!


    1. What a brilliant comment, Marsha! Is there a girl in the whole world who wouldn’t love to be Cinderella? I used to worry about the creatures that got turned into a footman and horses. I hope someone looked after them after midnight. That was never fully explained. I expect life after that thrilling experience was a bit of a let down for them, but “what happened next” would make a great children’s story!


      1. What a great idea! For me, I always assumed the magic wore off for them like it did Cinderella- at the stroke of midnight. Boy, it sure must have been something to go from animal to human and back again. I like to think Cinderella found the mice and rat and kept them as pets for the rest of their long lives!


    2. Thanks, Marsha. Cinderella is one of my favorite musicals- for Christmas one year I asked my husband for the DVD with Leslie Ann Warren as Cinderella. I was so excited when I opened that- couldn’t wait to watch it!


  6. I, too, grew up having fairy tales read to me by parents and grandparents. When I was teaching junior high and high school English and history in the recent past, I was dismayed that so many of my students didn’t know any fairytales other than the few that Disney redid, and they certainly didn’t know the ‘real’ endings or story twists, such as Cinderella’s stepsisters cutting off their toes so their feet would fit into the glass slipper. Few of my students were read to as young children. So sad for them, so I filled in their blanks, so to speak. lol

    I’m with you on your statement, “…I’m a romantic at heart and really enjoy reading a story that ends in happy-ever-after, even if all the odds seem stacked against it.”

    Fairytales and myths intrigue me because there are opportunities for reinterpretation, and when you can put a HEA twist on them, so much the better.

    Love your story premise for Different Kind of Knight. ;-)


    1. Hi Kaye, what a great comment. You’re right, everyone accepts the Disney version as the only version these days, but the old stories are much richer, and much more terrifying. Children through the ages have loved being scared out of their wits by them, but nowadays we sanitise everything. I bet your pupils loved it when you “filled in the blanks”!
      Thanks for your great comment, and for coming by!


  7. An interesting post Helena and Mary. It was my love of fairy tales that encouraged me to read in the first place – not that I needed much encouragement! I like the darkness within them but I do like a happy ending. I also like the fact that they have a hidden subtext that can be instructive to children and adults alike. In fact some traditional folk tales are really too dark for children, but saying that I think it s important for children to gain an understanding of the differences between light and dark and fairy tales play an important role in this.


    1. Thanks, Tina. It is important to know the difference between light and dark, and know what your kids can handle and can’t. I wouldn’t have read the original version of The Little Mermaid to my son when he was four, but at nine, he probably could have handled it.


    2. Fairy tales do play an important role, Tina I agree! They’re not just stories. They are great moral tales, and even the tragic Little Mermaid has a moral to it. She tried to change to accommodate someone else, and she wasn’t true to herself. It’s still a terrible ending, though, and I can remember being so upset when I first read it.
      Thanks for taking part in our discussion!


  8. I didn’t know that aout the Little Mermaid. How sad. The fairy tales I know all have happy endings. That’s why I love them. Congratulations on your book, Mary. It sounds lke a good one. Wishing you the best with it.


    1. Thanks for coming, Beverly. I don’t like the sad endings, either. In fairy tales maybe they provide a way for children to deal with tragic events in their own lives. I didn’t mind reading sad books as a child – but as an adult, I’d much rather have the HEA.


    2. Thanks, Beverly.

      I wouldn’t have known about the ending if it weren’t for catching that movie. To be honest, I do like the happy-ever-after ending better, although I get the reason for the cautionary tale.


  9. I was devastated by sad tales when I was little, and that hasn’t changed. If I seek to be depressed or sad, I’ll read the news, thank you very much. I’m a fan of Disney revisions, and love a tale with a HEA.


    1. I totally understand that, Loren. Escapism is why I read (and write), and I want to not only fall in love with the characters I meet (or create), I want to know they will be together, forever, and happily in love.


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