Friday, October 30, 2015

COSCBWI Meeting October 2015

This month's Central & Southern Ohio SCBWI meeting featured Laura Bickle.  Laura is the YA author of The Hallowed Ones and The Outside, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.  She led the group in a discussion on the adaptation of fairy tales and how the themes still inspire us today.

Fairy tales are near and dear to many people's hearts and are often the first stories introduced to young audiences.  Laura began her discussion with a look at the common features in fairy tales--from the well-known themes of good vs. evil and moral lessons, to the recurring elements like magical objects and animal familiars.  She shared a quote from the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales that boils the genre down quite concisely: 
"A fictional story, including fantasy, that is told for entertainment, is episodic, contains supernatural challenges and magical motifs, and ends happily."  
While it's hard to say who invented the very first fairy tale, some of the most well-known forefathers include the Brothers Grimm and Charles  Perrault.  The stories were originally aimed towards children, but the old fairy tales are often quite darker than their modern counterparts.  (Walt Disney definitely left out the stepsisters' foot mutilation in his cartoon version of Cinderella!)  In light of the upcoming Halloween holiday, Laura shared a creepy tale called The Willful Child by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm that involved a mother smacking her zombie son's arm back into the earth--a story that most mothers wouldn't tell their youngsters today.  (And will probably give me nightmares for the next month!)
Even though fairy tales originated centuries ago, Laura explained that they are quite relevant and popular in contemporary literature.  Modern fairy tales bridge old stories with a new audience.  They may contain the common motifs, archetypes, and structure of traditional fairy tales, but present-day writers give the stories twists and angles that resonate with readers in a new way.  Gender roles are frequently tackled (goodbye weakling damsels in distress!) and the stories of villains are often explored.  Laura showed us a Youtube summary of "Shrek" to illustrate this--a story that closely follows the path of a traditional fairy tale while adding humor, surprises, and pizzazz to connect with today's audiences.  
After a fun and lively group discussion, Laura passed out cards with common fairy tale themes.  (Mine said "Two Brothers" and "First Kiss.")  She encouraged us to think of these cards as jumping off  points and consider how we could use these tried-and-true themes in a unique way.  With the freedom for each new storyteller to put their own spin on beloved stories, there are endless ways to create your very own modern fairy tale! 
You can find out more about Laura Bickle and her novels at
If you want to learn more about Central and Southern Ohio SCBWI, be sure to visit the website at  I hope to see you at the November meeting!  (And don't forget--it's the last meeting of the year!)
 Note: Cover images for The Hallowed Ones and Dark Alchemy are from


  1. Thanks so much for the chance to come and talk with you, Kathryn! I had fun! :-)

    1. It was great having you, Laura! Hope to see you at another event soon! :)