Sunday, February 19, 2017

Story Inspirations: The Fairy King

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"Be wary my child, and never run off into the woods.  For the Fairies live there, and they are perilous.  Many an unhappy traveler has followed their call, never to be seen again.  Always they seek merriment in their mischief- who knows whether they will harm or help you?  Never stray far from the house, my love, lest the Fairies steal you away."

Well, I meant to do these inspiration posts pretty much back to back, but then life got super busy and I let it slide.  0_0  Woops!

Anyway, we now move on to the second fairy tale, The Fairy King.

It's difficult to track when exactly this story began to take root in my imagination.  It had probably been simmering for a year or two before it actually started to take shape.

It was December, and still in the nice months when  there's snow but the temperature keeps pretty much in the 20s.  I had been reading The Silmarillion  and had just reached the beginning parts of Turin's story.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was about to come out, and I was aching to write something.  I've always love stories of a father/daughter or big brother/little sister relationship, and themes of adoption have always interested me.

One evening, all of these elements just kind of coagulated into a story in the space of about an hour.  Images flashed through my mind of a young, ragged urchin girl with windblown curls, and of a grand but earthy man in a palace made of living trees.  These were the seeds of the characters that would become Anya and the Fairy King.  

Related image
Image result for jareth the goblin king end scene
The appearance of Thranduil in The Desolation of Smaug influenced my vision of the Fairy King, as did (I reluctantly admit) David Bowie's Jareth the Goblin King.  But his character was influenced by the old Fair Folk in Celtic, English, and Norse myths.  Dangerous and unpredictable, the Fairies of Old were not the cute, beneficial wish-granters that are popular today.  They were beautiful and alluring, but also deadly and mischievous.  When a wandering hero passed their way it was anyone's guess as to whether the Fae would aid or destroy him.  They were prone to acts of trouble making, everything from spoiling a cow's milk supply to stealing a newborn babe- or even fully grown men and women.

I wanted to explore what would happen if a creature such as this began to feel, for the very first time, a selfless, parental love.  To learn what it means to care for someone else, and be a protector rather than a tormentor.

I spent the three days before Christmas planning out the words I would use to tell this fairy tale, and then stayed up far too late on Christmas Eve actually writing it.  By the evening of Christmas Day it was finished, and went through no further changes other than the correcting of spelling mistakes.

After I finished writing the story, I was at first concerned when I could find no clear moral.  Most fairy tales have a moral after all... and this one just didn't seem to have one.   The character's motivations were clear, but what did they learn from their experience?  The Fairy King became a safe haven for Anya during her time of need, but his influence was not what she needed in the long term- it was her real father that she really needed.  Anya, in turn, was a positive influence on the Fairy King, helping him understand love.  But in the end, her presence did not bring happiness put pain... so what was the point of the story?

I think, after all that, the story is about love at its core.  Love changes people for the better, but it isn't always easy, and you have to work at it.  Love requires sacrifice and wisdom, and faithfulness.  The characters of the story each have a different affect on each other, and must learn to deal with the consequences of both their own actions and the actions of those around them.

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-Emmarayn Redding

(Hand-drawn images copyright Emmarayn Redding.  All rights reserved.
Other images taken from The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug and Labyrinth)


  1. Sounds like a lovely story. A pity I left my copy of the book at home- I want to read it now!

    1. What? You left it home? You poor thing. Where on earth will you find interesting books to read now? ;) After all, I can't imagine your college gives you enough work to keep you busy for more than two hours a week....