It is my pleasure to present to you The Path of Needles by Hannah Kollef! If you like fairy tales, be sure to check this one out. It’s a new twist on an old tale mixed with some modernization. A must-read, for sure! I can’t wait to work on the sequel!
ALSO! I have a wonderful guest post about where the idea for this story came from and what tales were its influence. Keep reading for this sneak-peak into the mind and world of Hannah Kollef… I mean, Kat Finnegan.
When 17-year-old Kat Finnegan is warned in a Brooklyn alleyway that her father is going to disappear, she shrugs and walks away. The next morning her father is gone–leaving behind a booby-trapped apartment and a mystery that has slept for a thousand years.
To get him back, Kat and her twin brother Roger will have to unravel the secrets behind the Rose Queen–the fairy queen who ripped apart reality and stitched it back together, transforming the Fey into the memories known as fairy tales. They will also have to come to grips with their emerging powers and discover why they are known to the magical world as “The Truth” and “The Lie.”
Hunted by demons and treacherous Fey, Kat and Roger follow the Queen’s trail from Manhattan to Newark. But neither the Queen nor her curse is what they expected, and more is at stake than their father’s life–and theirs.
Path of Needles is the explosive first book in the Paths series: urban fantasies littered with deadly fairy tales, tangled romance, and heartbreaking betrayals.
My name is Hannah Kollef, and Tricia has graciously allowed me to hijack her blog today (thank you, Tricia!). I could write a long introduction, maybe mention the book I published yesterday, but I respect you, reader. I know that you’d probably like to get down to business, skip all the pandering, jump right over the little introduction paragraph where I beg you—uh, I mean suggest that you might enjoy my novel. So, without further ado!
LET’S DO THIS.
When I was a child, my German Au Pair used to read me fairy tales.
These were not the happy, fluffy stories found in Disney boxes and brightly colored children’s books (at least not the ones sold in America). These stories were darker; the consequences for disobeying a parent always dire, the punishment for trying to eat children not just death but death by boiling, or dancing in hot iron, or being dropped in a river with a belly full of stones. “The Story of Augustus, Who Would Not Have Any Soup” particularly sticks out in my mind. Augustus was a chubby little boy who refused to eat his dinner. Consequently, he starved to death. The book included a nice illustration of the boy slowly wasting away, obstinately refusing his food. It ended with a picture of a grave.
Now THOSE were stories! You don’t get that kind of tension from the white washed Disney movies that come to mind when most people think of fairy tales. (Well, maybe Sleeping Beauty. I’m not the only one that was scared pants-less by the dragon Maleficent, am I?) These tales stuck in my mind, and were the beginning of a life long obsession with “original,” aka pre-Disney, fairy tales.
Flash forward fifteen years or so to my senior year of college. Washington and Lee University still had the wonderful trimester system, where you have a long fall and winter term and then a short spring term designed so that students could focus on one or two intensive classes. I’d finished my first novel at this point, and was working on the next. There was no title yet but I knew it was going to be about twins with some kind of magical powers and a world that was in the process of violent change. Magic was coming back. Their family was in turmoil, and trust issues were arising. One of them had fallen in love with the other’s best friend.
At that point I had a manuscript of about 100 pages and the vague idea that maybe I should bring fairy tales into the mix.
Enter Professor Prager and her Fairy Tales and Popular Culture course. I immediately signed up, thinking that at least I would enjoy myself. Professor Prager was a sarcastic, highly energized German professor. During her course we studied ‘tale types.’ There’s a curious repetition in the world of fairy tales. Take the Cinderella story. There is a Cinderella story in almost every recorded culture, with no discernible origin to the tale. The French have Donkeyskin, the Vietnamese have Tam Cam, the Chinese Yeh-Shen, and I could keep going but you probably don’t want to read a long list of strange names. That’s what Wikipedia is for.
(Here’s where we might get into an argument about single point of origin vs. Jungian archetypes and the human subconscious. Let’s skip that, and just agree that the spread of tale types is an interesting phenomenon. People have drawn blood over this question. It’s…not pretty).
I was reading the Cinderella story from an entirely new perspective, and learning more than perhaps I wanted to know. For example, a common theme in the Cinderella story that was left out from the versions I’d heard up until then was incest. Donkeyskin, the French version recorded by Perrault, is a good example. In theses versions, Cinderella runs away in order to avoid marrying her father. She then finds herself in poverty, working as a maid, when the Prince falls in love, etc. This darker twinge to the tale surprised me. What other stories did I only think I knew? How many endless variations of the tales were there, and what stories had I never read before?
I started thinking about the German tales I’d heard as a child. My fascination with the ‘other fairy tales,’ that is, the fairy tales not included in the Disney pantheon, had never really gone away. Now I had access to tons of scholarly information and exposure to dozens of entirely new tales. I also had a novel that needed finishing.
And that, my friends, is how the Paths series was born.
I graduated and moved back home. There, I took a variety of jobs, made a whole bunch of plans that didn’t work out, and finished Path of Needles. I had an incredible amount of fun filling my book with allusions to the older fairy tales and twisting elements from the stories to my own purposes. And when I made my website, I had even more fun writing about the older stories in the voice of Jim, one of my characters.
My point, if I have one, is that…well, dang. There are a lot of fairy tales out there. The ones most of us know are just the sanitized tip of the iceberg. Go out and read The Juniper Tree, and then tell me fairy tales are for children. Read the story of Iron Hans, then try and deny the shiver that crawls up your spine. And I challenge you to crack open a copy of the Grimms’ Children’s and Household Tales. The experience, I promise, will be life changing.
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any work missed due to obsessively searching for fairy tales on the internet.
How’s THAT for interesting! Gotta say, I love fairy tales, and the dark ones are left out for a reason. Some of them are creepy! I think I’m going to have to look up a few of these that Hannah mentioned — especially when I need to edit her next book!
Thanks for stopping by, Hannah, and I can’t wait to read the next book!