The Big Idea: J.A. Kazimer

Finally, someone — specifically, J.A. Kazimer — points out a fact about fairy tales that everyone knew but was too beguiled by Disney to say out loud. And used that fact to write a book — specifically, Froggy Style. Lean in and hear truth, my friends.

J.A. KAZIMER:

Envision a friend telling you a story about this guy he knows, a good guy; some might even call him a prince among men, a guy who is good-looking and rich to boot. Besides hating him instantly, you grudgingly listen, hoping like crazy it will end with the guy getting an STD.

Anyway, this prince among men is walking through a wooded area behind his house (a really nice, fancy house with too many rooms and a butler. What kind of douche has a butler, you wonder, but keep quiet for your friend is getting to the good stuff). In the middle of the woods, the prince stumbles on a dead woman, a beautiful dead woman with hair as black as sin and lips as red as blood, her breath smells of a heady mixture of apples, dwarfs, and decomposition.

Rather than do the right thing, and perhaps call a cop or summon medical help, this prince among men leans down to play a game of tonsils hockey with the decaying dead chick.

At this point you’re thinking, ‘That’s f***ed up’.

And there you have my Big Idea. Fairy tales are seriously f***ed up.

But why are they so f***ed up? What purpose do they serve, especially in our advanced society? I mean, it’s not like we need to worry about wolves dressing up in drag in order to eat girls in red anymore. Going to Las Vegas, drinking too much, and winding up in a bathtub full of ice with our kidneys missing, sure, but that’s completely different.

Or is it? Could it be urban legends are the fairy tales of our time?

Two hundred years ago when the brothers Grimm wrote their famous fairy tales were they actually warning kids not to get drunk on meade and wind up in an ice bath? Or suggesting chicks living with seven short guys shouldn’t take apples from strangers? Each a great bit of advice, but strangely enough, not always followed, especially by reality TV stars.

After reading a bunch of grim-ending tales, their equally sugary cartoon reenactments, and watching TV morons from sea-side shores, I asked, how hard could it be to write a fairy tale for today’s audience, something like Shrek, but for those old enough to worry about drunken-kidney-theft? It’s not like I could make fairy tales even grimmer. Not after those two twisted brothers, Disney remakes, and Easy-Bake Snookis.

But where to start? Maybe with a necrophilic prince?

No, been there. Snow White did just that.

A villain then.

After all, people may love a hero, but girls sleep with the bad boy villain every time. Think about it. The anti-hero has a long legacy in entertainment. Can you even picture Silence of the Lambs without Hannibal Lector? Or care to read Dr. Jekyll without Mr. Hyde? Why bother? It would be like watching reruns of Doctor Quinn, Medicine Women, after taking two Ambien.

From my way of thinking, people are far good or evil, black or white, and characters should be too. For too long two-dimensional characters ruled fairy tales, from the perfect Price Charming to a wealth of inter-changeable damsels-in-distress. Not anymore. My fingers flew across my keyboard; bring to life a villain cursed to be nice, a leather-clad ugly stepsister, and most recently, a jaded, former-fly eating prince with no choice but to marry a lazy princess he’s never met.

Why stop there, I asked? Why not shatter all of the fairy tale traditions, throw in a nursery rhyme or two, after, of course, I buckled my shoe? The end result, a series of irreverent F***ed Up Fairy Tales in which I’ve crushed Cinderella under a bus (you know she deserved it) nearly drowned Sleeping Beauty in a bowl of soup (Campbell’s Chunky works best for princessicide), and had the Old Woman in the Shoe arrested for breaking numerous child-labor laws.

Yet in the end, flattened princess aside, in true fairytale fashion, everyone must live happily ever after.

Until the princess-zombie-apocalypses.

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Froggy Style: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt (pdf link). Visit the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.

15 thoughts on “The Big Idea: J.A. Kazimer

  1. throw in a nursery rhyme or two
    Some of the current ones are pretty dark. All about dying of bubonic plague and suchlike.

  2. This is the first Big Idea piece I wish I had written. I was just thinking last week that it’s been a while since I read any short fiction.

  3. You know, I’m kind of intrigued by this, but I’m also wary, mainly because the description makes it sound like a book in which all the female characters are portrayed negatively, and/or have terrible things happen to them. I’ll look for some more reviews before I buy.

  4. Paige, I hope my female characters prove not to be negative, yet they do have many fairy tale stereotypes. As a female, I hate weak female leads, but I do think terrible things must happen to all characters. Sleeping Beauty in Froggy Style is one of my favorite female leads. She tortures the frog prince. But I totally understand your concern. Thanks for commenting.

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