Perth Writers' Festival 2015
Now, one week on, I sit to write this post and I reflect on what the festival means to me, what it provided. The most obvious answer is inspiration. The second most obvious answer is books.
On Friday, I took in a number of fantastic sessions, beginning with a session all about Fairy Tales. The session panel consisted of Kate Forsyth, who is the author of an enormous number of books across several genres, and Danielle Wood, who won the Vogel Award in 2002. I have been a fan of Kate's work since The Starthorn Tree was published, and losing my copy of that book when we moved house was possibly one of the most traumatic things about leaving my childhood home. (Okay, so I've led a pretty good life...) Recently, I have read two of the three adult novels that Kate Forsyth has published, Bitter Greens, which is a historical novel exploring the origins of the Rapunzel story, and The Wild Girl, a novel which celebrates the creation of the Grimm's Fairy Tales, and the young women who helped with the collection of the stories, most notably Dortchen Wild who would later marry Wilhelm Grimm. Both of these novels are beautiful, and impossible to put down. They celebrate real women whose voices have been silenced, and the roles they played in creating the fairy tales that children still love today. (In Bitter Greens, the storyteller is Charlotte Rose De La Force, who was banished from the court of the Sun King, Louis XIIIV). Kate's next book, The Beast's Garden, should be out this year some time, and I know I will be buying a copy for sure.
Kate's work and Danielle's work, though very different, were extremely complementary, as both writers had studied the traditional fairy tales and their themes at some length whilst working on their projects, and had revisited the themes many times before, Danielle's book, Mother's Grimm was reviewed here earlier in February.
What I think is remarkable is the way that fairy tales have meant different things at different times in different places and to different people, yet they continue to stay relevant to our lives, and give us an overarching sense of meaning to interpret what happens to us. The influence of fairy tales is a powerful motif, and I think I would like to explore using fairy tales in my own work, as well as read the original Grimm's fairy tales, dark as they may be. This session was a highlight of my weekend.