If you’ve visited the read a story page on this site, you’ll have found my free gift celebrating the approach of midwinter. I chose Fairy Tale for the honour because it was through the fairy tale and later the ghost story that I learned all about narrative and how it can hold a reader spellbound. I spent hours upon hours of childhood reading the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen
in all their gory glory. I was a precocious reader, no feeble juvenile versions for me. I can remember today the sickening sense of dread that kept me turning some of those pages and I can see their influence still in the dark side of my work. In the 20th century the fairy tale drew well-deserved criticism from feminist writers but I wasn’t reading for political education. I was reading for the narrative thrill. And while I might have been subconsciously absorbing an extremely suspect world view, I was at the same time discovering the language, the sense of pacing and the whole bag of colourful tricks that a writer calls on to engage, to entertain, to build suspense. . . and tell a good tale.