The inspiration for Tales from the Velvet Chamber of course owes much to Angela Carter’s critically acclaimed collection of fairy-tales, The Bloody Chamber published in 1976. Carter’s Beauty, from Beauty and the Beast, stands in stark opposition to the classical version. Her Beauty is cerebral and intensely sexual, a canny and powerful wench who has her wits about her, and is well aware of her power. The Beast ravishes her on his large luxe bed in his dead kingdom. Yet, she enjoys her role as sexual object, because just as easily, she swaps it out for the role of “bad girl,” a heroine with balls. She is a woman of power and agency; both object and subject. She alone escapes the fate of her hapless predecessors.
One of Angela Carter’s strategies is to reveal the hidden societal and religious constraints these women had to endure. She shows us the broader social and political picture. Carter believed that “a successful retelling delicately re-imagines the story’s content while preserving the boundaries of a form that led to such remarkable narrative stability.” The idea is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The idea is retain the original magic, the original enchantment, the glamour, the timelessness that is evoked with Once upon a time.
In addition to revealing the political or societal constraints as Angela Carter does, authors can write beyond happily ever after---- what happens to the Wicked Stepmother after Cinderella marries the Prince? What if the Wicked Witch of the West reconstitutes herself from a puddle of water and sets out on a new and different path? And what if a strong dose of female eroticism is combined with the mystery, the romance and the deep structure of myth? If Mary Magdalene can rise up after 2,000 years with a new story, then so can Medea and Medusa.
The Bible, fairy-tales and myths are linked by their remarkable narrative stability--- yet their simplistic and often charming form hides their raging misogyny. These cartoonish and often distorted images of women permeate much of modern culture: the raging she-devil, the madwoman, the slut, the gorgon, the temptress.
Anthologies by women writers who attempt to revision these stereotypes are few and far between.
What if the considerable wattage that myth can bring to the narrative is maintained, but these bad girls now exhibit beauty, grace, intelligence, sexiness, creativity? Or at the very least, tell their side of the story?
Perhaps there should be two or three variations on a deeply embedded story, not a single, monolithic one.
Perhaps its time to burnish the rotten reputation of some of the most devilish, the most evil, yet inherently the most powerful women in myth and literature. How would we view Pandora, Delilah and even Grendel through another lens?
Tales from the Velvet Chamber would attempt to answer these questions. In stories that would be dark, funny, sexy and unexpected.
You will find all the information you need to submit a story (sidebar, just scroll down), inspiration for a story, and why we need an anthology of revisioned, contemporary feminist fairy-tales and myth (blog posts). You will also find my story, serialized, "I am Snow White," as an example of how this could work--- and I hope I find many, many dark, funny sexy stories from you. Deadline: October 30, 2010.
Nationally and internationally produced playwright, award winning producer and author for NPR and WBAI. Published in Salon.com, USAtoday.com, dumbonyc.com, by Cleis Press, Seal Press, Heinemann Press. Reviewed in NYTimes, Art in America, Village Voice, The London Sunday Times. MA from NYU.
What I'm looking for
Stories that radically revise stereotypes of "bad women" in the Bible, in myth and in fairy-tales. Stories that aren't afraid to be literary, transgressive, dark, and sexy. Think: Lilith, Medea, the Wicked Stepmother, the Evil Witch, Pandora, Eve, crones, sibyls, fates, muses. Contemporary adaptations are fine. Mythical adapations equally welcome.
The spine: We begin to see these women through another lens.
How to submit
Email story in word attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org Subject line: Submission. Documents should be double-spaced, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman. Paragraphs should be indented five spaces. Bio (necessary) and contact information in the upper right hand corner. Stories should not exceed 5,000 words. Please do not send work-in-progress. Final drafts only.