To celebrate the launch of Once Upon a Clockwork Tale in June, I’ve invited the other three authors here for an interview. You can read the previous interviews with Ella Grey here and Robin Wyatt Dunn here.
Today, we’re talking with Matt Mitrovich. His contribution, The Enchanted Bean, is a surprising steampunk retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” with nods to Norse mythology.
Kat: Please tell me a little about yourself and your writing. (Feel free to promote any other work you’d like).
Matt: I started blogging two years ago in an effort to improve my writing. My main blog is Alternate History Weekly Update where I share news, reviews and commentary on alternate history and other genres. I also have a personal writing blog although I don’t update that as often as I like. Recently I joined the blog team for the relaunched Amazing Stories. I write in the science fiction literature category and it has been a great experience getting my thoughts and opinions on SF books to a larger audience.
I also write a lot of short fiction and I have another short story coming out this summer from The Masquerade Crew called “Road Trip.” It is a tale of four friends driving to a college party in downstate Illinois until they get lost and don’t know when they are going.
Kat: What drew you to a project around fairy tale retellings? Why do you think these stories continue to fascinate people?
Matt: Rather silly reason actually. After attending the live Rifftrax showing of Jack the Giant Killer, I did what I always do after seeing a bad movie: tried to make it better. At first it was just a jumble of thoughts in my head with nowhere to go, until I saw Echelon was looking for some steampunk retelling of classic fairy tales. Suddenly “The Enchanted Bean” was born. It is about a British adventurer who takes to the skies seeking wealth and glory, but instead finds ancient gods ruling an oppressive flying kingdom. With the help of their allies, these former masters of men want to replant the World Tree and rebuild their war machines. To stop the sky from falling, our hero will have to do more than chop down a beanstalk.
As for why fairy tales continue to fascinate people, I think its because they represent our early attempts to understand how the world works or answer the age old question: why do bad things happen to good people. Of course science has helped a lot in informing us about the world, but it lacks the punch these myths and legends did on the psyche of our ancestors. Whether you are a kid or adult, we still need a little magic in our life and that’s why fairy tales will be with us for a long time and accompany us into the stars.
Kat: What was your favorite fairy tale as a child? Was that the one you selected for OUACT? Why or why not?
Matt: Does Robin Hood count as a fairy tale? I mean there never was a historical “Robin Hood”. He just personified the peasant rebels of 15th century England, so in a way he is just as real as fairies, witches and unicorns. I always enjoyed hearing the tales of the infamous English outlaw and his band of merry men. Yet I decided in the end not to go with him. Perhaps one day the archetype will appear in a future publication of mine.
Kat: Hollywood has seen a resurgence of interest in classic fairy tales recently, with movies like Mirror Mirror, Snow White & The Huntsman, Hansel & Gretel, and the television show Once Upon a Time. If you could see any fairy tale made into a big-budget motion picture or television series, which would you choose? Why?
Matt: Hollywood does not handle classic works of fiction well. All three of the movies you suggested were just bad stories, especially Snow White & The Huntsman. Seriously, how does an emaciated princess who spent much of her formative years trapped in a tower with no training whatsoever in Medieval warfare somehow manage to ride a horse in full plate armor, wield a sword and lead an army into battle?
Once Upon a Time was alright, but recent episodes convince me it is about to jump the shark if it hasn’t already. What Hollywood does not understand is what made these stories great is originality. There was nothing like them before they were created. You can’t just take the name of a recognizable story, slap on elements from other stories, throw money at it and expect success. Those old fairy tales will always survive the test of time, but Hollywood and the rest of us needs to start making some new stories to share with the generations to come. Let our favorite characters have their happy endings instead of forcing them to relive their struggles for infinity.