This week, March 19th to 25th, is World Folktales and Fables Week! Duck Prints Press is celebrating with two blog posts: today’s, which focuses on the folktales, fables, and myths that influenced us as creators, and tomorrow’s, about our favorite folktale-inspired fiction (queer and otherwise).
Love folktales and fables? Join us now and learn about the ones we love – some you may know, some you may not!
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (an inspiration for Shadaras)
The first book that comes to mind is D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths (I had to look up the title, but the cover is burned into my memory). While there may be other collections of fairytales and folklore that struck me, this is one of the first ones I read, and it set the stage for my love of mythology in general.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith (an inspiration for Veronica Sanders)
I remember being really inspired by the genre of “a well-known story told from a different perspective” after reading the Jon Scieszka/Lane Smith books in 2nd grade, like The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. I always really liked thinking about folktales and fables from the POV of the “villain.”
Folktale-Inspired Disney Films (an inspiration for Adrian Harley)
I was a Disney-loving child of the 90s, so I am still unpacking the ways that shaped my view of folk stories, stories as a whole, and the world—and reconciling the positive ways these stories shaped me vs. the harms of the Disney corporation.
The Onion Girl (and other stories) by Charles de Lint (an inspiration for Anonymous)
He did an amazing job of blending American and European folklore with ordinary life in all its highs and lows. I don’t know if I could point to a specific story that’s retelling any one folktale, but I can absolutely point to the author as a whole for his folkloric style and tender exploration of magic, queerness, and being outcast. He helped invent the Mythic Fiction subgenre. The Onion Girl lives in my head rent-free.
Folktales of the Amur: Stories from the Russian Far East by Dmitri Nagishkin (an inspiration for Nina Waters)
A collection of eastern Russian folktales that really had a huge impact on me. 30+ years on from when I read them, I honestly couldn’t relate a single one of the stories, but they burrowed so deep into my psyche that when I imagine “folktales that really mattered to me” the first image that comes to mind is the cover. The art throughout the book is just absolutely gorgeous.
The Rose-Beauty – a Turkish Fairy Tale (an inspiration for Alessa Riel)
This is a Turkish fairytale that impressed me because it was cruel even for a fairytale. It‘s about a young woman who is blessed from birth to grow roses in her hair, cry pearls and grow grass wherever she walks and the cruel fate she is dealt because people are jealous of her gifts. It has a happy ending but only just.
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (an inspiration for Sebastian Marie)
It had a HUGE influence on me as a kid, for two main reasons. One, the events of a lot of European fairytales are told as happening to the same two kids and their parents, which creates a really interesting story structure. Two, it’s unabashedly mean and gory and cruel and well, dark and grim. It says that sometimes people are terrible and sometimes bad things happen to decent people. It’s one of the things that made me want to write fairy tales, or at least stories that are a bit gruesome and meant to be told to children.
The Swan-Maiden – a fairy tale (an inspiration for Alessa Riel)
This is a variant of the selkie tale as far as I can tell, only that the women don‘t turn into seals but beautiful swans. It was the version of the lore I first encountered and the unfairness of the women being forced to marry their captor and abuser and then also being cursed for abandoning the children these men forced onto them always resonated deeply with me.
The Blue Light by The Brothers Grimm (an inspiration for Alessa Riel)
In this fairytale a veteran soldier is unjustly treated by the king and then a witch sets him three challenges. The third one is getting her a blue light from a deep well. He refuses to give her the light and she drops him into the well along with the light. It turns out the light can fulfill wishes. Up to this part the veteran looks like a sympathetic person, but he uses those wishes to have the princess dragged to his room three nights in a row to do his bidding against her will. He is finally found out and sentenced to death for this transgression but manages to escape that fate by using the blue light and he gets the kingdom and the princess to boot. I always found this supremely unfair.
Egyptian Mythology (an inspiration for Dei Walker)
I think one of the first books of folktales, legends, or fairy tales I can remember reading repeatedly is a copy of Egyptian myths and legends I used to get out of my local public library when I was young. It was already an old edition in the 1980s and its pages were yellowed, but I would borrow it regularly and lose myself in the stories of life and (un)death along the Nile.
What are some folktales and fables that have inspired YOU? We’d love to hear about them, and maybe find some classical stories to add to our To Be Read piles!
Who we are: Duck Prints Press LLC is an independent publisher based in New York State. Our founding vision is to help fanfiction authors navigate the complex process of bringing their original works from first draft to print, culminating in publishing their work under our imprint. We are particularly dedicated to working with queer authors and publishing stories featuring characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Love what we do? Want to make sure you don’t miss the announcement for future giveaways? Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get previews, behind-the-scenes information, coupons, and more!