I gots to make up some books


Are retold tales a new fad or the latest incarnation of a rich tradition?

Margot Livesey’s latest novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, tells the story of a young girl who goes to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins after the death of her parents. The uncle treats his niece like a daughter, but after his accidental death she is shunned by her remaining relatives. Eventually, she enrolls in a strict boarding school, and later, lands a job at a remote estate tutoring a young girl. She falls for the young girl’s brooding guardian, only to have a deep, dark secret threaten their relationship.
Sound familiar?

The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre. This is not a secret, but a selling point. Two of the blurbs that grace the back of an advance copy of the book mention Brontë’s classic, and Livesey isn’t shy about acknowledging her debt. ILLUSTRATIONS BY STEVE MURRAY

This is relevant to my work.  Most of my work: art as well as writing.  There’s a quote my mother likes, “after the first artist, only the copyist,” and she takes it to mean that everything is inspired, positively or negatively, by everything that came before it.  Everything is, in some way, a derivative work of something, so there is no sense and no reason to denigrating something for being a derivative work.

The book I’m currently writing, Alice, is inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, probably among other things.  It came from an idea to write several short stories and novellas following an identical structure and gross plot to classic fairy tales but with differently-motivated characters.  (Alice turned into a not-at-all-short story.  It happens.)  It’s an interesting experiment for me, because I say “Alice” or “the Little Mermaid,” and right away anyone familiar with the story thinks that they know what it’s about.  Are they wrong?  Well, let me finish the book and we can find out.

The full text article is really interesting in those contexts (my art and original writing), but I’m also fascinated by how it applies to fandom.


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    How did I miss this the first time?! @atwoodfan cracked me up.
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