Saturday, October 29, 2011

Guest Blog: Robin Saxon and Alex Kidwell

And They Lived Happily Ever After

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with fairy tales. See, I was kind of a nerd, I wasn’t really popular or good at many things, but I loved to read. So I’d spend hours at the local library, combing the shelves, devouring everything I could find. I went in waves of interest — one month it was anything and everything by Arthur Conan Doyle, the next I was a rabid Poe fan. I sank my teeth into science fiction early on, I was completely enchanted by the Bronte sisters, and Tolkien became my dream world. Each author took me someplace different, showed me ways and ideas that I’d never have found living in a small town, in a small family.

But I always came back to fairy tales. I was lucky, my library had a section that was packed with fairy tales from around the world. I got to take home thick copies of German folklore and old Irish tales, I would read the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. I loved the way those stories would unfold, the big ideas they explored. What beauty was, what it meant to be a hero, how true love should last. These concepts I saw echoed over and over in everything else I read, but it seemed they were never more poignant than when between the pages of a fairy tale.

When I was about sixteen or so, I figured out I was gay. It took me more than ten years to accept that fact, to be able to even talk about it. But I knew. It was in the back of my mind during every conversation I had that even remotely touched on relationships or love. Anyone who’s gone through that ‘in the closet’ phase knows exactly what I mean. It’s hard, it’s lonely, and it makes you think you’re never going to be happy. Like always, I turned to my books to help me cope. What I found, though, as I grew older, as my tastes developed, is that while the stories were timeless, there was no one like me. Not one character in all my favorite tales that I could relate to. Which only added to the feeling of wrongness. If even in all these stories there was no one who felt like I did, who wanted what I did, how could I not be wrong?

The princess never saved herself and ran off with the handmaiden who’d stood by her side. The prince was never rescued by the town blacksmith who’d loved him from afar. Not once was true love shown as something that could happen outside of a heterosexual relationship. In all these people, in all the ages, were none of them just a little more interested in their loyal sidekick than the person of the opposite gender the story presented them with?

I still think fairy tales are important. Fantasy and science fiction, in general, provide an amazing platform to explore concepts and truths and ideas without having to ground yourself too much in realism. It’s why Asimov decided to explore his concepts of humanity and what makes a soul and what is life through robots and the far reaches of space, it’s why the concept of beauty being on the inside and how what class a person is born to having no bearing on their character and the heartbreak of love too impossible to be given form is shown by Hans Christian Anderson by mermaids and tin soldiers.

But I also believe that realistic tales set in fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction need strong gay characters. There should be characters in those genres I can relate to. That young readers can see and love and grow up with. That adults can explore and that show how sexual attraction and love and romance, all of those things aren’t limited to a man and a woman. We know that’s true, so many of us live that. I believe that in every genre, in every age level of book, we need that truth to be played out. Well written, well rounded gay characters are so necessary, but especially in fairy tales. It’s more than past time for all of us to get a happily ever after, too.
- Alex

(Robin note: I grew up much nerdier, obsessed with dinosaurs and transformers. How awesome would gay dinosaurs and transformers be?)

About the Authors: Robin Saxon and Alex Kidwell live in the Midwest with their two cats, Starsky and Hutch. Their first book, Blood Howl, is available for sale at Dreamspinner Press. They can be found at their blog and on Facebook.

This is what they've had to say at the Goddess Fish Party Pavilion today:

* Bacon & Chicken Casserole Recipe, aka, Robin and Alex Pretend to Be Foodies

*  Halloween Culture Shock
*  Spooky Excerpt 

And what's gotten them whipped up at Whipped Cream:


Jean P said...

Great post, remember reading Hans Christian Anderson and Grimms Fairy tales, haven't thought of those in years though, reading tastes have changed through the years!

Na said...

I grew up reading fairy tales as well. I had so many books of them and in all variations. They were a real treat to read and some kind of scary as well. It's probably one of my earliest reads.