Fairytales for the Fearless is a fun, engaging series from Gareth P. Jones and Illustrated by Loretta Schauer. If you are on social media, then you will know of Gareth P. Jones and his brilliant videos and songs! Check out our Q&A with him below!
Where did the inspiration for Fairytales for the Fearless come from?
My daughter was bought a toy rabbit in a princess dress for her birthday. I looked at it and instantly thought, “Rabunzel!” That led to the idea of a rabbit with extremely long ears who gets locked in a high hutch. I wasn’t sure if anyone would want the picture book but I sent it to Melissa (my Publishing Director) who was publishing my book, The Lion on The Bus in case she liked it. It took her ages to reply but when she did, she phoned me up and sounded very excited about it – which is pretty rare in my experience of publishing. It was Melissa who thought of it as a series, so then I dreamed up CinderGorilla. The next one is called Snowy White and is all about cats, vanity and looking after your environment.
What is your overall aim in writing these twists on classic tales?
With each fairy tale I try to solve the problems sewn into the originals. They are riddled with problems – such as why doesn’t Cinder’s glass slipper turn back like everything else & if you’ve seen someone’s face why would you base your search on shoe size? They also often teach you morals that are no longer relevant in today’s society. So when I’m writing I’m trying to resolve both of these things, but the most important factor is to write an entertaining – and hopefully funny – story.
Cindergorilla just wants to dance with her friends and be herself- a positive message for all readers. What else would you like readers to take away from Cindergorilla’s tale?
Cinder’s aunt & cousins have to learn to tidy up after themselves, but if you look closely at the book you’ll see that they don’t actually learn this lesson and only start tidying up because the Hairy Godmother casts a spell on them. This isn’t their book. Nor is it Travis’. CinderGorilla is the hero and for me, the central message is that dancing shouldn’t be about showing off and looking good. Cinder dances herself happy and that’s a good way to be.
Videos of you dancing in various places are incredibly popular on social media- do you have a preferred style of music to dance to?
I’m not sure ‘incredibly popular’ is quite accurate. My friends find it cringe-worthingly embarrassing that I spend so much time dancing online. Unfortunately for them I don’t feel embarrassment very easily. Usually the videos I do online I’m not dancing to anything but when I am dancing to music, I’ll dance to anything but it helps if it’s got a funky groove going on somewhere.
Do you have a preference between writing picture books and middle grade books? Is one easier or more challenging than the other?
I find picture books the hardest. Trying to tell a story in 12 spreads doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I am grateful to those editors who see the potential of my words. Also, I’m not a very visual writer. Some writers see pictures when they write. I see words. These books would be nothing without the illustrations and I am extremely grateful for Loretta Schauer’s talent. As far as I’m concerned these stories are not complete until they have pictures and I always learn something new about the story when I see her illustrations. I love them.
What is a typical day of writing like for you? How do you stay on task?
I’m not sure such a thing exists. I can be at home or out exploring London, visiting a school or playing a festival, but if I have a story on the go, I will find the time and headspace to write… trains, park benches, staffrooms, anywhere. And I never stay on task, but somehow the books get written in between all the dancing, singing, procrastinating and all the other stuff and nonsense I do.
Check out this series- it is fantastic and one to dispel the myths of some fairy tales! Rabunzel and Cindergorilla are both available from book retailers!