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Guest Blog: Seanan McGuire

I first discovered Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) when she created some fan art for Anton Strout's Deader Still. He posted it up over at antonstrout, and I was intrigued enough that I thought, I should find out who this Seanan person is.

In short, she's amazing. She's one of those super talented people who is an artist, a musician, and a writer, all wrapped into one. She has three albums of her music available at CD Baby and she performs at conventions, seemingly all over the place. Her first novel, Rosemary and Rue, debuted last month to excellent reviews, and was recently the bookclub pick over at Genreville. I'm incredibly tickled that Seanan took the time to talk about fairy tales here at Myth, the Universe, and Everything.

Without further ado, I turn it over to her!

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CONFESSIONS OF A FAIRY TALE GIRL.

Hello. My name is Seanan, and I'm a folklore addict. I started small, like most addicts, with Disney movies and the Brothers Grimm, and branched out from there into the Colored Fairy Books, Child's ballads, the works of Shakespeare, and the fabulous scholarship of Katharine Briggs. It didn't take long for me to lose my way completely, falling into bad company, like the hero with a thousand faces, and the princess of the glass mountain. Pushers were everywhere, and I was weak.

I'm not sorry.

The urban fantasy of today is built atop the folklore and fairy tales of yesterday. True, a lot of it draws on archetypes that we've classified as "horror," but if you look at the roots of those stories, you'll find that witches and werewolves originally appeared next to pixies and elves. The divide between fantasy and horror is a modern construction. We're just getting back to our roots. Our bloody, bloody roots.

The gradual blanching of all the blood from the fairy tales is responsible for a lot of crimes against folklore, not the least of which is the relegation of the fae to cute nursery illustrations and CGI movies featuring Tinker Bell and her friends. Most of the traditional fae would kick your ass for even suggesting that they might be "cute," and they definitely aren't the sort of people you want in your nursery. The irony of decorating childrens' rooms with the very creatures we used to protect them from with horseshoes and rowan wood has not escaped me. (It's also not a good thing to explain while standing in the Disney Store.)

So what is folklore? At its simplest, it's the oral or written tradition of a culture. Tall tales, fairy tales, ghost stories, urban legends, they're all folklore. Every human culture has its own folklore and its own folkloric traditions, and no one is completely familiar with absolutely all of them. Folklore changes constantly. The old-school Cinderella may have sent pigeons to peck her stepsisters' eyes out, but there's room in the tradition for the Disney Cinderella, too; as soon as little girls started to retell the story of the movie, she became just as valid (if a lot newer).

As urban fantasy becomes more and more established, tropes and concepts go from "fresh and new" (and five hundred years old) to "been there, done that," which is especially comic when you consider that it's all been done before. Everything old is new again once it gets old enough. Even the fairy tale girls.

There's a lot of freedom in the urban fantasy playground, and a lot of history still waiting to be remembered. We've found our roots. All that remains to be seen is what we're going to plant this time.

I don't know about you, but I'm planting myself a pumpkin patch.

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