Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Interview with Once Upon a Blog's Ink Gypsy

I am so excited to bring you this next post!!

You are all probably familiar with the fantastic Once Upon a Blog, but just in case, let this be your introduction. And really, you should add it to your bookmarks RIGHT NOW if it isn't there already, because if you are interested in learning about fairy tales, InkGypsy is the one of the best sources out there for what is happening currently in the realm of fairy tales-in Hollywood, art, and other media. As you begin to learn more about fairy tales you realize there's no right or wrong, or "authentic" or "original" versions-it really all boils down to how each culture interacts with and shapes the tales. So as fairy tale students, we shouldn't be ignorant of how our own culture is perceiving and interpreting these stories!

Gypsy was gracious enough to answer some questions I had for her to share with you-and to be honest, I was just curious myself. After following a blog for so long and admiring her writing and respecting her opinions on the subject, you really start to wonder who is behind the scenes!

1. What first sparked your interest in fairy tales?
I have loved fairy tales since I was really young. I had quite a few fairy tales on records (75 RPM!) which I loved but one in particular was my favorite. It was Snow White. I think this was partly because it was a record with a book attached (I only remember one other, which was Hansel & Gretel) and the book had a lot of pictures. It was a Disney record too so it came with narration, voices, songs and full color film stills.

What really sparked my imagination though was the "working drawings" scattered throughout. These had the black lines of the final drawings with blue 'working' lines underneath and I was fascinated that there was a creative process behind the story - someone created this, made it up, decided what it looked like and perhaps decided what parts to tell us about the story and what not to. I was maybe 4 (?) when this captured my attention and started thinking this way. I also remember being particularly drawn to fairy tales from that time on.

I continued to be a keen and advanced reader and at age 9 borrowed CS Lewis' "Till We Have Faces" and was floored that there was an alternate telling of the Cupid and Psyche story. That's the book that started me on the study path, looking at why stories are told the way they are, what the motifs are, how different stories told from different points of view can still be rooted in the same story etc, etc. I also realized, thanks to that book, that fairy tales in particular had layers that could be understood in different ways by children and adults alike (I noticed Disney, the person, employed the same idea of layered storytelling in his films as well). I was well and truly hooked on fairy tales at that point and have continued reading and studying fairy tales avidly in one form or another ever since.  The more I did, the more I realized how helpful they were to me in every day life as well, though not necessarily in terms of morals,which is how many people think of their 'usefulness'. Rather it told me about people, human behavior, the importance of wise choices, of hope and in not needing to understand absolutely everything to find a way through. I guess you could say it's a pretty long term obsession, er, interest. :)

2. What prompted you to start a fairy tale blog?
I do believe part of it was zeitgeist. I started mine, only to see that Heidi Ann Heiner, who's SurLaLune website and forums I had been following since the first few weeks they appeared, started her own blog that same month! My personal reasons, though, were just that I couldn't believe how often I saw fairy tales being used, retold and referenced in the news and in popular culture and yet the people who seemed most passionate about them didn't seem to realize this - or be able to connect as a result. I was home taking care of my new baby and, since I wasn't writing or consulting much for work any more, decided to channel my thoughts into blogging. Despite the general idea that fairy tales were outdated or "diluted beyond return by Disney", to me, fairy tales were everywhere, globally, and alive and well. The main problem was that there were fewer in circulation than ever due to the melding of pop culture and movies across nations and that the same ones were getting used/retold over and over. I hoped that by highlighting how often fairy tales were being used by 'regular' people that it would encourage other fairy tale folk to do more, create more, be more active in whatever their fields were, and maybe connect and join forces somewhat to help spread the wealth of this amazing resource society is sitting on top of, but is barely aware of.

I'm very much one of the people who see fairy tales as 'alive' and that they grow, morph, change, adapt through over time and across cultures yet still keep their roots. In tracking even a little of the activity in fairy tales today -both by 'pros' and laymen, it proved to me just how important - and how much a part of us being human - they are. That in turn reinforced the importance of encouraging work, creation and storytelling in this field and so I now see the blog as a way to help keep fairy tales alive and vital. 

My hope is that those working in and with fairy tales will adapt their study, research and creativity to the main forms of communication today so that fairy tales, and all they have to offer, can enrich society and make a difference.
Sleeping Beauty * Errol le Cain

What do I think fairy tales have to offer? 
3 things: 
1) they show us our history and our roots, and highlight our commonalities amongst all peoples
2) they provide touchstones of wisdom for our present - by this I don't actually mean morals (though they can be included). I mean fairy tales show us what people are like, the choices we really have in any situation (even if they are sucky choices, any sort of choice makes us less of a victim of others and circumstance) and path options for our personal -and collective- journeys.
3) fairy tales also show us the possibilities for our future - again individually and collectively,both positive and negative

Fairy tales describe human nature, both at it's best and and it's worst, mankind's hopes and dreams, tendencies and weaknesses but strengths as well. While the stories don't always show the best outcomes, including that of the 'protagonists', they tell us a lot about how people work and cope (or not). It's not about fairy tales having answers so much as learning about human nature and benefiting from the patterns and histories so we can be best prepared for our own "wolves" and "woods".
3. What is your process for finding blog material/what sources do you use?
I guess "everywhere" is going to be too vague an answer, despite that it's true. :)

After my long time obsession/interest, I now have a sort of "fairy tale radar" that causes me to pay attention to the possibility of fairy tales being used or referenced or patterns of the same. I am, unfortunately, not one of those people who can quote you the AT tale type numbers, motifs etc at work in any given situation. I wish I were. I feel like I miss so much! But I also try to be aware of fairy tales being referenced and in 'morph-form', or incomplete form, if you will. That's where some of the most delightful discoveries are. I will be the first to admit, though, that I need a better system for finding and tracking fairy tales. 

Practically speaking, if I have my ducks in a row I will check all the major Entertainment News Outlet headlines, the 'geek' headlines, social media buzz on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc and choose the one for the day/time of writing that I feel will be most interesting to my readers (and me too - I have to be interested in it as well!). I also sign up to receive newsletters where I think I'm likely to see a fairy tale pop and I have approximately eighty key word searches I run through regularly to search out the more obscure postings. It takes a serious amount of time to do this though and, sadly, I rarely get time to do more than a quick and cursory search but I keep trying. 

Baba Yaga's Hut * Jan Pienkowski

When things are going smoothly I do my best to pre-schedule posts a few days in advance, and scatter some in the future as well, so that the days I can't get to research and blog (which are almost always the weekend and any days I am helping with my son's school, among other things) there will be new content and all I will need to do for that day is check for any 'breaking news' that a large cross section of the public is interested in (this is often movie, music or event news). I try to mix it up a bit so I'm not always posting on the same topics, or only Hollywood/movie news, or just art either (I do love that particular rabbit hole though!). Of course, real life happens and researching alone takes a huge chunk of time every day (I try to make sure I have legitimate sources and more than one) so things rarely go as planned! I miss posting on many things (so many things! Argh!) and my draft posts are almost as numerous as my actual posts as I do try to get them all in, but it all comes down to time. This could easily be a full time job for a team... 
Perhaps one day I will work in that fairy tale newsroom I've envisioned since the beginning... I can dream, right?

And now you know all my secrets. ;) 

Thanks, Gypsy! Your blog is an inspiration to many people, myself included!


  1. Great interview! Ink Gypsy's blog is a real treasure. I've referenced a few times on my own blog, Fairy Tale Fandom.

  2. Thank you for this lovely interview! I've been reading Gypsy's blog for a long time now, and I'm so happy she introduced us to yours through this! :)

  3. Thanks for the opportunity to share Kristin. I really appreciate it and am very grateful for your kind words about the blog and for your support. Yay for fairy tale friends!
    Thank you also to AdamYJ and sarahallegra for your comments and readership. To know the blog is being read regularly gives me that extra boost to keep at it. Thank you!

  4. This is great! I love Ink Gypsy's blog, and her Pinterest board is a go-to spot of mine for a bit of mythic inspiration~

  5. Great interview! I'm glad to know about this blog, too:)

  6. A Fairy Tale Newsroom! Brilliant! I loved the interview-thank you!

  7. Yay! Thanks everyone for the comments-I'm so glad I finally got up the guts to ask Gypsy to do this! This is what I love about blogging, getting to be part of such a unique community where we can all talk about the things we're passionate about!