Open Book Society’s reviewer, Omar, is back this month with an all new interview with author if THE DWARF AND THE TWINS author Katharina Gerlach. Here they chat about the decision behind the first fairy tale within the series, fairy godmothers and wishes, favorite fairy tales, movies, and more. Enjoy!
- Be sure to read our review of The Dwarf and the Twins here at OBS.
- For more information about the author and her book visit her at her Official Website here.
Katharina Gerlach: Snow White and Rose Red is one of my favorite fairy tales. I considered using my all time favorite (see below) but decided that not many people know it. I wanted something less obscure to start the series. The other stories will follow eventually.
Omar: What was the inspiration behind writing from Martin and The King’s perspective?
Katharina Gerlach: I love to look at fairy tales in a different way, and when I thought about Snow White and Rose Red, I realized that the dwarf’s angel was the one that no one had explored so far.
Omar: Can you explain the contract between the fairy and the king? I understand that fairies grant their godchildren one wish, but the king was granted more. Was there a specific reason for it?
Katharina Gerlach: After the strange wish the firstborn prince got, the current king’s parents begged the fairy godmother to postpone her wish until the second born prince was old enough to settle on a wish for himself. The current king then wished for the safety of his kingdom, and the fairy godmother was too naive to realize what that wish meant.
Omar: In your opinion, did Snow White and Rose Red’s mother ever felt more than a friendship for Martin? We read how he helps her, throughout that time, to look after the girls and raise them.
Katharina Gerlach: Adele was very deeply in love with her husband even when he was no longer alive. I don’t think she ever considered anyone more than a friend. She probably would have scorned the best looking and richest beau in the world had he shown up. But she values the dwarf’s friendship very highly.
Omar: Why were women the only ones that were able to find the fairy godmother’s house? Is there a specific reason for it?
Katharina Gerlach: Why else would the dwarf (who knows the whole forest inside out and can communicate with the plants) have trouble to find the fairy’s house?
Omar: When did it occur to you that you were going to give your own spin to the fairy tales we’ve come to know as children? Which was the first fairy tale that you re-wrote and how did you feel afterwards?
Katharina Gerlach: I always loved fairy tales and twisted them from early on, but I never thought those would be stories that other people might be interested in. Then, I read a couple of stories from a friend (Danyelle Leafty who writes stories that feel like fairy tales and that have some elements from the old tales), and I thought that it’d be fun to try my hand at a twisted tale. I was overwhelmed by the success (the story already on an award in Germany).
Omar: I have always found it refreshing when authors change a fairy tale character’s personality to suit the “happy ending”. What made you change Martin and the bear’s personality for this story and for the others stories to come?
Katharina Gerlach: The thing is that I didn’t decide this consciously. I told my Muse (that’s the creative part of my brain) that I needed a new way to look at the characters, and this is what she came up with. Devious as she is, she hid most of the interesting stuff from me until I began writing the second story in the series… 😉
Omar: Time for some fun facts. Which is the fairy tale you like the most?
Katharina Gerlach: The Snow Queen preferably in the twisted version of Danyelle Leafty (Of Wind and Winter)
Omar: Have you ever considered living near or in the Black Forest?
Katharina Gerlach: I used to live in a forest when I was a kid (due to the fact that Dad was a forester) and I would have loved to work as a forester too. Unfortunately, there are not enough jobs to go around for the number of foresters finishing their degree. Since I got a PhD on top of the degree, I was too expensive for most forest owners. Otherwise, I might at some point have lived in the Black Forest (although I find it rather dark and depressive and too far away from my family).
Omar: What is the fairy tale that you think is the least known nowadays?
Katharina Gerlach: There are too many to count. Just look at all those Native American tales that most people have never heard from. Or try to find tales from the oral tradition in the South Sea or from the central African jungle. From the classic European tales, I think it’s something like “Der Spinnenhans” where the third girl of a family has to defeat an evil ogress to win back her cow and break the curse on a prince.
Omar: Which is your favorite plant?
Katharina Gerlach: I can’t decide. I could probably name a salad or at least a flower, but my heart lies with trees mostly. But I love the aspen as much as the willow and the oak. So I can’t really say.
Omar: Do you have a favorite movie about fairies and what is the title?
Katharina Gerlach: I love all Czech fairy tale films, but my favorite is “Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” (a version of Cinderella). The prince is so handsome, and not as dull-headed as the one in the original tale, and Cinderella is not just beautiful but also smart and does something for her happy end. I love heroines that are spunky.
Thank you to author Katharina Gerlach for an amazing interview! We hope to read more of her stories in the future.