Back in the early 1800s, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected a bunch of European folk tales and published them as Kinder und Hausmarchen (Children’s and Household Tales). We know them as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and before Uncle Walt got his sugar-coated hands on them, they were not always thought to be that suitable for the rug rats.
Now 200 years later, award-winning anthologist Stephen Jones has asked some of the world’s greatest horror and fantasy writers to have a bash at reimagining some of these tales with an even darker spin. The Horror Hothouse‘s Simon Ball was lucky enough to catch Steve at Kim Newman’s An English Ghost Story launch, and ask him a few questions.
As they say in all the good stories, let’s begin at the very beginning. So, Steve, what was it was that made you want to revisit the world of the Brothers Grimm?
“I’m always trying to find new themes and ideas to hang an anthology on” Steve said, “and although there have been revisionist versions of the Brothers Grimm stories before — most recently by Philip Pullman, for example — I didn’t think that it had really been done from a purely horror viewpoint before.
“I recalled from reading the stories years ago that some of them were particularly grim (pun intended) and gruesome, and when I went back and re-read them again, I discovered that a number of them were very dark indeed. From there it was just a matter of contacting a number of authors, giving them the concept, and seeing where they went with it.”
The result of Steve’s efforts is Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome, which is published by our friends at Jo Fletcher Books on October 23. We asked Steve to tell us a little more about it.
“Well, it contains not only fifteen horror stories by some of the biggest names in the genre, but I’ve also included the original Brothers Grimm stories that either inspired them or most closely reflect their themes.
These stories have been handed down from generation to generation for centuries. They are ingrained in our conscious, in our psyche. We all grew up knowing the tales of ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Hansel and Gretel’. But these are not the Disneyfied versions — we went right back to the original tales and then put a contemporary horror spin on them.
Ramsey Campbell and John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In) both rework the tale of ‘Rumplestiltskin’ in very different ways. Tanith Lee tackles ‘Rapunzel’, Robert Shearman ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and Christopher Fowler ‘Cinderella’.
The stories by Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Markus Heitz and Brian Hodge are all based on lesser-known fairy tales, and there’s some stunning original work from Michael Marshall Smith, Brian Lumley (actually an Innsmouth-inspired Lovecraftian story), Reggie Oliver, Angela Slatter, Peter Crowther and Joanne Harris.
The icing on the cake is that we got the amazing Alan Lee to do the cover and interior illustrations in-between his production design work on The Hobbit movies in New Zealand.”
As an in demand horror specialist, Steve is a pretty busy guy with a whole bunch of projects to interest you my Horror Hothouse flowers. So, what’s cooking Steve?
“Just published are the 25th anniversary edition of my annual “Year’s Best” anthology, The Mammoth Book of Horror, and Zombie Apocalypse! Endgame, the fifth entry in my ongoing revisionist shared-world series.
“Beyond that, I’m currently working on an exciting new art book project and a number of anthologies for various publishers. As I said, I’m just a guy who loves the horror genre, and I’m very lucky that I continue to be able to work in it.”
Thank you, Stephen Jones.
Interview by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.