May 16, 2013

Fairy Tales and Fiction - by Marcia Janson

 "Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality.  It’s a way of understanding it."  ~ Lloyd Alexander

I get a real kick out of reading fiction, particularly mystery novels. I read on the couch, in bed, on the bus or train, in restaurants or on a bench by the ocean. My body is parked in one place, but my mind enters into another realm where people are different from me and yet the same. I get to experience exotic cultures and landscapes and contemplate issues I may not choose to dwell upon in my own day-to-day life. A good storyteller has a way of nudging past surface thoughts and instilling something at a deeper level.

I remember when I was six and just learning to read. Our grade one teacher introduced us to the standard curriculum readers of the day and, once I’d got the hang of it, I would zip through them quickly and look for something more interesting to read. My mother had two ancient fairy tale books, a remnant of her own childhood. I’d noticed these large tomes sitting on the bookshelf, so one day I pulled one out to have a look and was hooked. The stories were populated with ogres, fairies, castles and dark forests – pretty edgy for a six year old and possibly the stuff of a few nightmares. Nevertheless, they opened my mind to a world beyond the vanilla-bland adventures of Dick and Jane and resonated with me in an indefinable way.

Looking back, I think the graphic depictions of good versus evil within those fairy tales hinted at something I’d sensed in the world around me. Although there was much to enjoy in life, I had intuited that all was not right with the world. Many years later, when I became a Christian, those vague intuitions finally made perfect sense. There really is another reality beyond the mundane physical world and there is an “ogre” in the dark places of the forest. Thank God there is a strong and pure hero who sweeps in and fights for us, vanquishing the nasties and overcoming evil with good.

Those fairy tales I used to read never once mentioned God or devils or Jesus Christ, but they did communicate grand truths. They refused to gloss over how things really are and may, in fact, have whetted my appetite for the greatest story ever told. That’s what I’d like to do with my own fiction writing. Wouldn’t it be grand to stimulate a desire in people to see beyond the physical realm? To create a word melody that attunes to a chord vibrating deep in the human spirit? I’m not sure how to do that, but I’ve decided to pick up my pen and get started, trusting that as I commit my writing to God, he will direct my steps.

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Photo credits: Fairy Tale book-
Forest path-


  1. Thanks for your posting. It took me back to the good old fairy tales I had read in English as well as in my mother tongue-Tamil.

  2. Exactly why I love fantasy and spec fiction! I read an excellent book on the topic several years ago called CHILDREN OF A GREATER GOD where the author details the merits of fantasy when read from a Christian worldview.

  3. Thanks, Sulo! Tracy, do you write fantasy fiction then? I am writing regular fiction with a bit of a mystery involved. Well, that's the plan, if I can overcome the "resistance monster" :-)

  4. A fascinating post, Marcia. I find I am re-reading fairy tales lately, and haven't figured out yet what the attraction is to me. Maybe it's the way they quickly cut to the action and the crises, and are so black and white about good and evil. Thanks for such an interesting read--I really enjoyed this!

  5. Thank you, Ramona - that's encouraging to me that you enjoyed it and, like me, find yourself drawn to tales where good trumps evil every time. I like a good murder mystery for precisely that reason.


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