Interview by David McDonald.
Angela Rega is a Sydney, Australia–based writer, a graduate of Clarion South and a recent graduate of a Masters of Creative Writing. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in anthologies by PS Publishing, Ticonderoga Publications, FableCroft Publishing and the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and in The Future Fire, SQ Mag, Crossed Genres and Cabinet Des Fees. She also had a fairy tale novelette published in 2013, The Cobbler Mage. She often falls in love with poetry and can’t imagine not writing. She can be found online at http://angierega.webs.com/
As noted in the last Snapshot, fairy tales seem to be a big part of your writing. As someone who draws upon them some well, what do you feel are some of the key things a writer needs to do when working in that genre?
I have always loved fairy tales because they resonate with experiential archetypes. I love working the bones of these stories to re-imagine, rewrite and create new tales. Fairy Tales stem from the oral folktales, an exciting trove of disappearing stories and in written form they keep evolving. Fairy tales seem to have their own kind of soul work happening.
Last year on my blog, I did a twelve-week series of interviews called Fairy Tale Friday. I interviewed a different female writer each week about their love of fairy tales and how they work with the bones of these stories.
What these interviews revealed was the different ways in which writers work with these tales. Sometimes it is the essence: a single feather from a tale. Sometimes, the bones: a scaffold and sometimes, the heart: the symbols or motifs that we take. The key I believe is taking one of these three things: feathers, bone or heart and then creating a new living breathing story. This is why I love fairy tales. They are elusive and evolving creatures.
For me, the school library was a haven and one of the few joyous places in that environment. As a teacher librarian, what influence do you see it having on students today, and how important is it?
The Library is the last frontier. It’s the last free space that supports freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom to read. One of the most important things about school libraries is for students to have a safe place to just be, to discover, to learn, to get it wrong and to get it right. There is a gorgeous kid’s poem called “My Library” written by Varda One and published on the Library Lover’s Month Web Page and one of the couplets sums up the importance of libraries in a school setting:
“Here, I’ve been a mermaid and an elf
I’ve even learned to be more myself.”
As someone coming from a migrant experience, do you find that influences your work?
Growing up in a migrant household meant you started a sentence in one language and finished in another. It meant your experiences were of living in two worlds, often at conflict with one another (and that perhaps, perhaps, you will always struggle with grammar and syntax). I often felt like an outsider (and still do). As a result, I have always been open to straying from the path and making friends with strangers. I think that experience definitely has had an influence on my work as both a Teacher and a writer.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
Angela Slatter is not only a wonderful friend; she is a talented writer and one of my favourite storytellers. Her latest urban fantasy, Vigil, is one of those books I classify as “unputdownable” as is her dark and delicious novella, Of Sorrow and Such.
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Rebecca Lim’s The Astrologer’s Daughter are wonderful additions to my school library.
And my very talented friend, Suzanne Willis’s stories are just so lyrically beautiful. The Cartographer’s Price is Mythic Delirium’s July featured story. Read it. You’ll agree with me.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
I would like to sit next to my love and story teller of my heart, Ian McHugh. So he could read me fairy tales. I’d like that. Very much.