So, I'm shaking things up a bit this week. Good thing it's my blog. I'm going to do a combination interview/book review post on both Monday and Wednesday this week. To start us off, I have the amazing Gayle Krause.
Gayle has served on the Rhyming Revolution Selection Committee, choosing the “best” rhyming picture book for 2015 to 2018. A Master educator, she’s taught Children’s Literature to prospective teachers at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Ms. Krause writes fiction for Young Adult, Middle Grade, and young children. Rebecca Angus of Golden Wheat Literary represents her. Gayle's first middle grade poetry collection, Once Upon a Twisted Tale, releases next Tuesday, June 18th!
Hi, Maria. Thank you for hosting me on your blog today.
ME: Tell us a little about yourself. (How long have you been writing? What is your favorite type of book to write?)
GAYLE: As an educator training prospective teachers, Children’s Literature was part of my curriculum. One of the activities I had them do was create a picture book for the pre-school children in the Laboratory Pre-K. Of course, in order to do that, I wrote sample picture books every year to demonstrate the assignment. So essentially, I wrote for children long before I decided to do it professionally.
My favorite type of book to write is a rhyming picture book. I love the challenge of finding unique words that can be used alliteratively, while keeping a strong meter, and telling a story with no forced rhyme, no reverse phrases, and a clever ending.
What a great preparation for writing children's books. Where did the inspiration for Once Upon A Twisted Tale come from?
As a young child, I loved fairytales. My favorite was The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I even had it in a Children’s Classics comic book. And as I mentioned above, in my first career I taught Children’s Literature to prospective teachers. I encouraged students to tell well-known fairytales through creative dramatics. I even taught them “the psychological meanings behind the traditional fairytales.” So, it wasn’t a far stretch to take the challenge of rhyming and my love of fairytales and twist them together to make “fractured fairytales” in various poetry forms.
That does seem like the perfect combination of loves. How hard is it for you to switch between these three genres (PB, MG, YA)?
After writing for almost twenty years, I developed a pattern of creating stories. It takes a good two years to complete a MG or YA novel.
Marinate for 3-5 months.
Print it out (very crucial).
Read it as a book.
Make a Pdf to send to your critique group.
If it passes, send finished novel to beta readers.
When it’s as polished as possible, sub to agents/editors.
And wait more months.
After such intense writing and revising, I find creating rhyming picture books a refreshing break for my brain. So, I tend to switch on and off. Two years of novel. One year of picture books.
This routine definitely seems to be working. What was your greatest struggle in writing Once Upon A Twisted Tale? Was it easier or harder than writing Rock Star Santa or Daddy, Can You See The Moon?
Obviously, it was more of a challenge to incorporate well-known fairytales in “fractured fairytales" AND write the stories in various poetic forms. Both Rock Star Santa and Daddy, Can You See The Moon? came all at once. The story and the rhyme just flowed from my brain to the paper. (Yes, I did say paper. Sometimes it’s easier to jot down the idea on paper as it’s blossoming and then transfer it to the computer.)
With the different poetry forms, I had to find a way to tell the fairytale character’s story in a form that was not always the same. I learned a lot about poetry this way. Some of the forms that I used include couplets, cleave poem, loop poetry, list poetry, concrete free verse, and the ghazal.
(In case you don't know either - a ghazal is an Arabic ode "a poem made up of a chain of couplets that has a refrain of 1-3 words that repeat an inline rhyme that precedes the refrain.")
Wow sounds like a lot of work; but also a lot of fun. How closely did you get to work with Caroline O’Neal on the illustrations?
Interesting story here! Perusing the Clear Fork/Spork site after Daddy, Can You See The Moon? was contracted, I noticed Caroline’s illustrative work on another SPORK book. I went to her website and fell in love with her light and lovely fairytale illustrations, so I emailed Callie Metler-Smith, the Clear Fork/Spork publisher, and told her I had a poetry collection that would be perfect for Caroline’s illustrations. She asked me to send the manuscript to her. She in turn sent it to Caroline in Germany. A few days later Caroline asked to be contracted for Once Upon a Twisted Tale. As she illustrated the poems, she’d send them to Callie and Callie would send them to me. Caroline really captured the spirit of the poems on the first try.
That's interesting and fairly unusual. Is there anything special you want your readers to know about Once Upon A Twisted Tale?
Yes, as a former teacher, I am well aware of the classroom possibilities of this collection to be used in The Common Core as a comparison to the original tales, or as an oral reading or storytelling technique, or as a mentor text for middle-graders to write their own “fractured fairytales.” So it’s not just a story for kids at home, but can also be utilized in the classroom for fun writing activities.
Which was your favorite fractured fairy tale? Why?
My favorite is Curse Reversed. I like the hip-hop song quality that comes naturally with the flow of the words. And it’s one that’s easily memorized because of the beat.
Any projects (PB, MG, or YA) you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?
My current WIP is a MG Fantasy/Adventure titled Revenge of the Sea Witch that features a middle-school boy who is a true Hero, as that’s his last name. In this third, and final book, in the HeroBoy series, evil pirates, who are minions of a wicked Sea Sorceress, kidnaps his friends and he must find a way to rescue them, especially since one of the girls (his girlfriend and the young princess he met in the first book) is destined to be queen of the Sea Kingdom, Bellasea.
Do you have any advice on querying agents, surviving rejections, managing bouts of success, or anything else for authors or illustrators?
Querying agents: Research before you send out. It’s like applying for college. You only submit to those that represent what you write. And be patient. You can only attend one college at a time. And you only need one agent to accept your work. (But make sure he/she is a perfect match for not only your work but also your personality.)
Biggest Word of Advice: PERSISTENCE!
Great advice. Thank you, Gayle for participating in this interview. I enjoyed the chance to get to know you better.
*GIVEAWAY - Gayle has graciously offered a signed copy to one reader. So, be sure to comment below to be entered in the giveaway of Once Upon A Twisted Tale. (Sorry, U.S. only)*
For more information about Gayle Krause, or to contact her:
Once Upon A Twisted Tale
We've all seen twisted fairy tales. Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, The Three Little Dassies by Jan Brett, or It's Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk, or The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Klatsup. Usually these are written as single picture books and tackle one fairy tale (albeit with cameos from other characters, perhaps).
Well, Gayle Krause stirred and boiled numerous fairy tales together and created a collection of 30 twisted fairy tale poems for middle grade readers. As she mentioned above, she varied the forms of the poems so that the book could be used "not just a story for kids at home, but can also be utilized in the classroom for fun writing activities."
Once Upon A Twisted Tale
Author: Gayle Krause
Illustrator: Caroline O'Neal
Publisher: Spork (2019)
Fairy Tales, rhyming, and poetry forms.
By the middle grades, children know the story lines of familiar fairytales, which makes them all the funnier when they veer off in different directions. Good ‘fractured fairytales’ twist the child reader’s perspective on the story, showing other possibilities. From a frog, who thinks he’s Sleeping Beauty, to a cool-rappin’ fairy godmother who sends Cinderella to a Hip-Hop Ball, to a boy who waits beneath a stone bridge to fool trolls, Once Upon a Twisted Tale is a rollicking, rhyme-filled poetry collection that can be read for sheer amusement or used in a classroom to compare original tales to the twisted tales as per Language Arts requirements.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ― Albert Einstein
. . . A cookie charging through the wood,
eaten by Red Riding Hood.
Sleeping princess. Clever elf.
This book won’t stay upon your shelf.
You’ll want to read one hundred times
these mixed-up stories, told in rhymes.
Giant, witch, and nightingale
in “Once Upon a Twisted Tale."
Why I like the Book:
It is really interesting to see how Gayle stirred together two to six different fairy tales and folded those blendings into 30 new poems. Most were unexpected, such as the mashup of "Pinocchio, Puss in Boots, Princess and the Pea, and the Frog Prince," or the combination of "Sleeping Beauty and Jack & the Beanstalk."
One fun combination is Gayle's favorite poem - Curse, Reversed, which combined The Pied Piper and The Frog Prince. This is two very small snippets of the poem:
It’s the beat on the street
to the piper’s song . . .
The curse reversed…
Where frog had been,
a prince, now reigned.
The princess vanished unexplained— ... " Text © Gayle Krause, 2019. Image © Caroline O'Neal, 2019
For myself, I enjoyed the poem ". . . Ever After," especially this stanza:
"Two siblings who made
a deal with the witch
offer breadcrumb tours in the wood.
For huge candy shares,
they lure wolves and bears,
and the witch wears a fur cape and hood."
I've often wondered what type of twisted fairy tale could be accomplished with Hansel and Gretel.
Though it was usually clear which fairy tales were being fractured, I did appreciate the table of contents, which lists the fairy tales that Gayle combined in each poem. It certainly made it easier to relocate poems quickly. I also appreciated her note on the nature and way to read her 'cleave' poem. I wish she had included more of a guide to some of the other types of poems she wrote, especially as some will be new to teachers and parents, not to mention the kids. But check out Manju Howard's blog, where Gayle discusses six of the poetry forms she used and the corresponding fractured tale from the book. ("How-to-Write-6-Poetic-Forms-with-a-Fairytale-Twist")
This book is full of beautiful illustrations by Caroline O'Neal which capture the magical aura of the fairy tales and Gayle's fantastical melding of the stories. These are two fun ones from:
Cackily, Hackily - a stirring of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White; and
Fractured: A Pantoum for Storytime - a combination of many tales.
Whether you're a fan of fractured fairytales, a lover of poetry, or a teacher looking to spice up a poetry unit, you will find lots to enjoy in this book.
- try your hand at combining your choice of a couple of fairytales in a story or poem;
- picking your favorite poem, write a poem in this same form;
- compare and contrast the original stories and a twisted tale poem, how else could you twist these tales?
*GIVEAWAY reminder - Gayle has graciously offered a signed copy to one reader. So, be sure to comment below to be entered in the giveaway of Once Upon A Twisted Tale. (Sorry, U.S. only)*