Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario: I make a living in Fairy Tales

Taylor Brodie  

Lecturer, writer and 2017 EWF ambassador Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario’s professional career mixes fairy tales, fiction and academic research.

Published on topics such as Wizard Rock, Disney princesses, and pantomime and with a book on fairy-tales on the way, Do Rozario shares with us a glimpse into what it means to straddle the line between academic writing and fantastical fiction.

Book tickets to see her and our other EWF ambassadors at the 2017 National Writers Conference, June 17-18.

Why fairy-tales?

I think we’re often told that fairy tales and fantasy literature aren’t serious. And that’s precisely what makes them fascinating and fun to work with.

I make a living in fairy tales, which I have to admit, is pretty fantastic. I’m a lecturer at Monash University in the literary studies program where I’ve been researching and teaching fairy tales, children’s literature, and speculative fiction. I’m kind of obsessed with figuring out how storytelling works. That has inspired me, too, in writing my own fairy tales and stories.

Coming down from the ivory tower

I certainly don’t think you need a degree to write, but I enjoy working with my students, tinkering to see how being a more aware, more critical reader can inspire creativity. I think sometimes people see a distinction between academic and creative writing and I just don’t think it’s so. There are different tools and procedures, but for both the aim is to get into the heart of the matter and suggest new ways of thinking about things.

I think the best writing comes in a mood of adventure or defiance, particularly when someone tells you something won’t work. Sometimes it won’t work, but it forces you to go places you normally wouldn’t in your writing. Humour is also important. You can tell the darkest truths through humour and it’s humorous writing that has taught me the most about life.

Lessons learned and taught on writing

Rejection and failure is such a big part of being a writer and we can’t talk about it enough. I certainly deal with my own share of rejections. We all know stories of famous authors who persisted through multiple rejections, but it’s having the ability to handle rejection until you succeed that is one of the most exhausting aspects of a writing career.

I’m also keen to talk about older emerging writers. We focus a great deal on young writers starting out, but I’d also like to encourage the Jessica Fletchers out there! In fact, that reference in itself may age me as one of the older writers!

Traditional stories often hold contemporary relevance

I actually think the biggest thing we have to learn from fairy tales is that the tradition of these stories is far richer than many know. Unbeknownst to most people, fairy tales have always had a dark side, but they’ve also been witty, bold, optimistic, romantic and filled with glittering details.

Likewise, many early female authors were proto-feminist – they wrote about princesses who could become queens in their own right and female fairies who dictated the fate of kings. I’d really love to see more contemporary writers engage with the full extent of the fairy tale tradition.

A favourite recommendation

I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to seventeenth-century, French fairy tales. Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy’s Finette Cendron is my favourite version of Cinderella. The prince falls in love with her red velvet shoe! D’Aulnoy is a wonder. The Benevolent Frog, another of her fairy tales, features a green horse with three heads that shoot fire, bombs and cannon balls.

Rebecca will be joining EWF at the National Writers’ Conference. Book now to avoid disappointment!

For more from our ambassadors, check out Michelle Law’s notes on her unplanned literary career and Inga Simpson’s guide to writing and nature.