If you haven’t heard about the After Happily Ever After anthology, this interview series is a front row seat into the creative minds of the authors who have re-envisioned the fairy tale world beyond the final credits. KT Wagner pushes new boundaries in the Cinderella mythos using the bizarro genre.
From your bio, it sounds like you spend a lot of time in dedication to your craft, attending programs and running groups. I find many writers to be a mix of the introspective and extroverted. Are you one or the other, and how do these qualities come into play with your writing life?
I am definitely an introvert, but can convincingly display extrovert traits as long as I don’t have to keep it up for too long. I need time alone to recharge, and then I’m ready to be around people again.
It’s important for writers to have their own communities and networks. Writers require support and feedback. We also need to get out a bit and socialize with people who share our passion for writing (I expect we’ve all had the experience of enthusing about an experimental technique or something, then noticing the eyes of non-writers glaze over). There wasn’t much available in my area, so I organized what I needed. Six years ago, I helped found a local writing group (https://www.facebook.com/goldenearswriters/) and we put on workshops and readings ten months a year. I also run a “just write” meet-up group once a week, and this November I’ll hold the third annual Ghost Story Writing Retreat at a lodge in the British Columbia wilderness.
How did your journey as a writer begin? Did you always know, or was it a winding road that led you here?
I wrote non-fiction for several decades. I’ve always been interested in politics and justice, even as a child, and my first published piece was a letter to the editor of a national newspaper in my early teens. I expressed my views about the province of Quebec separating from the rest of Canada. I also wrote for school newspapers. As an adult, I continued to write columns and articles about political topics, mainly the need for public education reform until about six years ago when I turned my attention to writing speculative fiction.
You’ve got this clever take on Cinderella, using the bizarro genre — a very dynamic way to re-envision the classic tale. Tell us how the idea of bringing the characters to life as insects came about, because I love it!
I love writing bizarro!! An online Litreactor.com workshop with Rose O’Keefe of Eraserhead Press introduced me to writing the genre.
Growing up, my sister kept milkweed and Monarch butterfly caterpillars in ventilated jars. We watched them pupate and then emerge from the chrysalis before setting them free again. That memory from summers at my grandparent’s cottage sparked the story 3-D Monarch.
Do you have a favorite fairy tale? And what drew you to the Cinderella tale in particular?
I find many (most) traditional fairy tales are misogynistic, which is irritating, but at the same time fascinating in what they show us about the history of culture and attitudes. Two stand out: The Brothers Grimm retelling of The Juniper Tree for the visceral horror, and Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen because Gerda, the main character, is a rarely seen (in fairy tales) strong, heroic, competent female.
Cinderella is a malleable tale for retelling with its universal themes, and many layers and characters to explore. I’m currently working on a space opera novella, loosely based on the Cinderella story.
KT Wagner loves reading and writing speculative fiction. Occasionally she ventures out of her writers’ cave to spend an hour or two blinking against the daylight, or reacquainting herself with family and friends. Several of her short stories are published and she is working on a sci-fi horror novel. She puts pen to paper in Maple Ridge, B.C., organizes Golden Ears Writers, and attended SFU’s Southbank program in 2013 and The Writers’ Studio (TWS) in 2015. KT can be found online at www.northernlightsgothic.com and @KT_Wagner, and facebook.