At Least Stab Me in the Front

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I love a good betrayal. It’s so…delicious.

Done right, it’s a shocking revelation. The heroes are devastated by their misplaced trust. The villain becomes bigger, badder, stronger. And everything changes.

A perfect example: Peter Pettigrew. (Yes, this is Harry Potter, I cite Harry Potter a lot.)

He turns over his best friends to Voldemort. People he grew up with, shared secrets with, got into trouble with. He sent them and their son to their deaths, because his master was the baddest kid on the playground. Even better, he framed his other best friend for that betrayal.

Well played, you rat. Well played.

Another good example is from Tangled, when Rapunzel realizes Mother Gothel kidnapped her.

She’s spent eighteen years living a lie. She thought her mother loved her, wanted to protect her from people who would use her magical healing hair — never knowing that’s exactly what her “mother” was doing. Worse, she is willing to keep up the charade to save the man she loves. That’s sacrifice right there (but that’s another theme for another post).

Luckily, I haven’t suffered any heart-wrenching betrayals yet. I hope I never have to. Little betrayals are hard enough — when you think someone will stick up for you, but throws you under the bus; when you thought you were friends with people but actually weren’t; or when you trust someone and they just plain let you down.

How do you feel about betrayals? Love them? Hate them? Wish they would turn themselves in for a reward?


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Oh! So That’s Why the Fairy Tale Did That.

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One of my favorite things about modern adaptations is how the authors solve unanswered questions from their fairy tale.

“But fairy tales are supposed to have unanswered questions!” you say. “They’re full of whimsy and magic!”

That’s nice, but why can’t we have some explanation?

For example, why does only a princess kissing a frog turn him into a prince, instead of any girl in (true) love? Why is Cinderella the only girl in the kingdom who fits that glass slipper? Why would a woman sell her unborn child for spinning straw into gold?

Okay, well that last one’s easier to answer (sell unborn child or die). But I want to know the other ones!

Here are some of my favorite explanations:

  • Cinderella wasn’t a push over. She was under a fairy curse to obey any order! (As per Ella Enchanted, which also explained that Ella had a drop of fairy blood that made her feet supernaturally small.)
  • Sleeping Beauty wasn’t a moron who had to touch every sharp thing put in front of her. She was attacked by a weapon that — to the ignorant eye — resembles a spindle! (As per The Stepsister Scheme.)
  • Rapunzel’s hair wasn’t seventy feet long just to help the witch into the tower. She couldn’t cut it, or it would lose its magical healing power! (As per Tangled.)
  • The twelve dancing princesses didn’t dance in a magical kingdom every night because they wanted to. They were forced to dance because of fairy magic! (As per Entwined.)
  • The Big Bad Wolf wasn’t trying to blow the little pigs’ houses down. He just had really bad allergies! (As per The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. If you didn’t have that as a kid, you missed out.)

What about you, what explanations have you seen that you’ve enjoyed?


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Grimmer Than Grimm

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You probably know that the original versions of fairy tales are much darker than their “modern” versions. I’m talking mutilations and cruel parents and everything else that makes you cringe. Cinderella’s stepsister chopping parts off their feet to make them fit the shoe, and the like.

You might not know that authors (including me!) are going back to those dark versions — or even darker with Grimmification.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Disney adaptations. Forever and always.

But the dark versions draw me like hot fudge to chocolate ice cream. Or something.

You already saw on my last post that I liked the original versions of The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel with their dead mermaids and blinded princes. And I like some of the newer, darker adaptations I’ve seen.

No Rest for the Wicked is a webcomic with a mash-up of fairy tales, and makes a good case study. Red (of Riding Hood fame) is a crazy woman with an axe, wiping out the wolf population in her woods and hanging the pelts in her cabin. The witch from Hansel and Gretel was actually their mother; she ate them, and then ate all of the children who stumbled upon her house.

If I’m horrified, I call it a success.

Not to terrify you any further, but I’m working on my own Grimmified fairy tales. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

P.S. Speaking of the Grimmification of Disney, check out the Twisted Princess series. It’s fantastic.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Once Upon a First Blog Post

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It’s funny, because I had all these ideas for blog posts, but when I actually sat down to write one, I became paralyzed. I could only think, “this is my first post on my new site, my intro to the world – I’d better make it a good one! A great one!” And, well, that’s a bit intimidating.

So instead of putting forth something of dizzying intellect, I’m going to start things slowly with a list of my favorite fairy tales — which you’ll more than likely see in my anthology of re-tellings.

  • Beauty and the Beast: I always liked the idea of going off to live in an enchanted castle. Magic rings and curses are cool, too.
  • The Little Mermaid: The mermaid’s sacrifice of her voice and life resonated with me. To this day, I look at sea foam and think of dead mermaids. (I was a morbid little child.)
  • Little Red Riding Hood: Admittedly not one of my favorites, but I love the character I created from this tale, so here it is. I do like a few modern adaptations of it though.
  • Rapunzel: Again as a morbid little child, I liked the fact that the prince was pushed from the tower and blinded by briars. (I had a thing about children’s stories not being “real” enough with all their perfect happy endings.) But Disney’s version is now my favorite movie.
  • Princess and the Frog: I liked what Disney did with this tale, turning the princess into a frog as well, but the original is still good. I enjoy a good curse.
  • Princess and the Pea: I think I enjoyed this one because I could empathize with the princess. I have always had trouble sleeping, even without a pea to worry about.
  • Cinderella: It’s not just the classic rags-to-riches story I enjoy, but there are so many great adaptations. You can go so many places with this one!
  • Rumpelstiltskin: Just as I enjoy a good curse, I enjoy a good fairy deal. Tricky fairies and their one-up on humans are always fun!

There you have it! That’s my list of favorite fairy tales. What’s yours?


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.