BLOG TOUR: Gender Swapped Fairytales

Good afternoon everyone!

I hope you’re all well! Today I have an absolutely incredible blog post for you to go with an incredible book! When I started seeing this book flying around on social media, I knew that I needed to be part of any celebration of it… and then I was lucky enough to be invited on the blog tour (THANK YOU so much to Faber for inviting me on the blog tour!).

But which book?! Which book are you so excited about?

Feast your eyes on this…

Once upon a time, in the middle of winter, a King sat at a window and sewed. As he sewed and gazed out onto the landscape, he pricked his finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell onto the snow outside.

People have been telling fairy tales to their children for hundreds of years. And for almost as long, people have been rewriting those fairy tales – to help their children imagine a world where they are the heroes. Karrie and Jon were reading their child these stories when they hit upon a dilemma, something previous versions of these stories were missing, and so they decided to make one vital change… They haven’t rewritten the stories in this book. They haven’t reimagined endings, or reinvented characters. What they have done is switch all the genders. It might not sound like that much of a change, but you’ll be dazzled by the world this swap creates – and amazed by the new characters you’re about to discover.”

The brilliant authors are here answering my questions about their brilliant, fascinating and compelling new book filled with fairytales with a twist (and I couldn’t be more honoured to have them here!)

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1. What inspired you to write gender swapped fairy tales?
Our story behind our book began when Jonathan was a little boy, tucked up beside his sister in bed with their father reading to them. What he didn’t realise at the time was that his dad was secretly swapping the genders of the characters in the books. This made the stories much more interesting for his dad to read, while providing his kids with exciting new characters that didn’t conform to tired old gender stereotypes. Fast forward 30 years and we now have a 3-year-old daughter of our own who we want to grow up in a world where children can be whatever roles they want to be.

3. What was the writing process like? 
A little different than how most books are written! Jonathan is a digital inventor so he created a computer algorithm that swaps the gender in text, turning ‘he’ to ‘she’ and ‘queen’ to ‘king’. We then ran the fairy tales through the algorithm and could read the brand new tales for the first time. It was really exciting and surprising. Our language is littered with gender biases we’d never noticed before. Karrie then illustrated these new, twisted tales.

4. Can you tell us a bit about what the book is about?
We ran 12 fairy tales through our gender swapping algorithm and immediately knew we were onto something special. Princesses in shining armour racing to rescue their sleeping princes. Kings sat by windows sewing and longing for a child. And kind-hearted young men were rewarded for looking past the flaws of beastly princesses. These stories were now set in a ‘Queendom’ where women had always held the power. It was no utopia- there were still all the power imbalances of our own world, just seen through a magic mirror. These new fairy tales shone a light on the gender binaries and biases hidden in the stories we’ve been telling our children for generations. 

5. What do you want people to take from this story? 
We’d love people to think about gender a bit more and the unconscious biases that litter our stories and language. One thing we noticed is how often we refer to animals as masculine (ie ‘Good afternoon Mr Magpie’) or how rarely we describe women as their job titles (in our books there is a Baker, Merchant and Miller who all happen to be female). Our aim for this book is to get people to think and ask questions. By not rewriting these stories we have put the analysis firmly in the reader’s hands. So we’d love to hear your observations! Tag us at #genderswappedfairytales on social media.  

7. What’s your favourite thing about being an author?Well, usually it would be travelling the world and meeting readers, artists and storytellers at book festivals. But as we’re heading into another lockdown we’ll content ourselves with happily creating books, art or games in our rooms that can reach people all over the world when we can’t.

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This is an incredible book and you’d be a fool to not get your hands on it right this second! Or y’know… when you can!

A massive massive thank you to the authors Karrie and Jon for taking the time out to answer my questions, and to the publishers Faber, for inviting me on the blog tour! I’m actually the final stop, so go check out the rest of the stops on this tour: it’s been brilliant!

S x

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