Another unexpected Readers’ Favorite discovery! I love fairy tales rewritten with a twist and V.M. Sawh’s series, “Good Tales for Bad Dreams,” certainly met that criteria! I was lucky enough to have Sawh respond to my request for an interview, after I read and reviewed the two stories in this series, “Cinders” and “Hontas.”
I loved both short stories, but felt “Cinders,” although very dark, was lacking in the area of character development. I was happy when Sawh provided me with a free link to the prequel, “Anastasia” and told me “Cinders” had a word limit. I can more than understand this because “Crushed Gardenias” had a word limit and people were disappointed when it ended. I look forward to reading this one as well.
Anyways, on with the questions!
What made you want to become an author?
I have been writing from a very young age and I still have copies of all of my early, handwritten work. The first scribblings of a story I ever wrote was a little piece called “Jungle Peril”, about a pair of swashbuckling explorers tackling smugglers in the wild bush. Given that the wild bush was essentially my backyard in South America, I think I had some first-hand knowledge to back up my wild imagination. My problem has always been caused and solved by those old Choose Your Own Adventure books. I devoured those as a kid, because I loved that there were always multiple paths, twists and endings to every story. So, when reading regular books, I always thought of different ways things could go and how I wanted them to play out. Writing my own fiction allows me to explore those ideas.
Where did your ideas for Cinders and Hontas come from?
Legend has it that Cinders was originally written for submission to an anthology, kind of as a lark. I was looking for a challenge and one day, during a long drive, I was listening to a piece of Japanese music, and this scene popped into my head. I was describing it to my wife when the story took on a life of it’s own. She then told me I had to write it down and try to submit it. So, the challenge became to try and take this very traditional fairy-tale and depict it in a way that it had never been done before. Of course, when I applied my particular flavour to it, the submission was rejected for being too graphic ~ and that was the toned down version! Taking this rejection to heart, I decided to go all full-tilt-boogie on the thing and take the censorship wheels off. That story was eventually published as Cinders.
I wrote Anastasia due to a reader’s request to know more about some of the side characters in that world. Taking that on as a fun exercise, Anastasia got away from me and became it’s own story, sort of a sequel to Cinders.
Part of exploring the Pocahontas story was an attempt to deal with my own feelings of alienation with regards to Indian culture (dot, not feather). I transplanted that struggle into the main character and used her as a cypher. She is an ‘other’ and even though I grew up in Canada, there were many times when I felt like the ‘other’ as well. So that story came out of a desire to express that dichotomy that I think a lot of immigrants and particularly immigrant children feel.
What tips would you give to aspiring authors?
Nobody was born with a pencil in their hand. There’s talent and there’s practice. You need both in order to make it. Chasing trends is like a dog chasing cars. You’ll never catch them and all you’ll be is lost and out of breath. Be original. Write the stories you’d want to read.
What are you working on for future release?
Good Tales For Bad Dreams will continue. I am planning a set number of releases before moving to a hardcover print collection.
The next installment of Good Tales for Bad Dreams takes us far away from Earth, to the outer reaches of space on a distant, unknown planet. Two sentient robots have been abandoned on its surface, one is an advanced planetary survey droid carrying the latest scientific technology and a healthy curiosity; the other is a battle-hardened combat drone that’s armed to the teeth and ready to go to war. The two are forced to work together both to survive the brutal landscape and to plan their own rescue. What they don’t know is that the planet has one other surprise in store for them: they are not alone.
This is V.M. Sawh’s “Hansel & Gretel”. This is GR3T3L-1.
I have to say, personally, out of the two, I loved Hontas more. I gave it five stars over at Readers’ Favorite. I’m looking forward to the sci fi take on Hansel & Gretel!
Kind thanks to V.M. Sawh for taking the time to answer my questions!