C. Robert Cargill On His Not-So-Nice Fairies

Faeries are often considered fragile, beautiful creatures full of whimsy and magic, but as the hero in C. Robert Cargill's Dreams and Shadows discovers, faeries can often have a nasty side. When young Colby is taken from his less-than-perfect home by faeries, he's brought to a place inhabited by all sorts of paranormal creatures. But this new world has problems of its own, and Colby learns that the Limestone Kingdom is something that will stick with him forever. Today, the author shares why he gave his faeries a tough edge, but why he still prefers them to the typical pixie.

There’s something about the modern interpretation of fairies that just doesn’t sit well with me. Disney-fied pixies sprinkling glitter from wands, or lurking in magical kingdoms in beautiful dresses, bathing in moonlight and dancing on crystal clear water. People forget – fairies are nasty. They’re mean. They’re cruel. Even the good ones live in a world apart from our own ethics and traditions. They are Jenny Greenteeth, lurking at the bottom of ponds, waiting for children to dangle their tiny legs into the water only to grab them and drown them beneath the surface. They are the Gan Caenack, appearing from the mists, casting no shadow, to seduce young maidens before vanishing once again, driving the young girls to suicide. They are the Will o’ Wisps, leading travelers off nearby cliffs or drowning them in the swamps.

They are not nice creatures. Not all of them. They are the our coalescing fears, cautionary tales to keep children away from ponds and maidens from kissing strangers and travelers from being tricked by swamp gas. They are the explanations for why so many Irish poets drank themselves to death, or why children were born with deformities, or why people disappeared at night without a trace.

Give me a nasty fairy any day. One with a history steeped in religion and believed until not so long ago that we couldn’t have met the faithful. These are the fairies of legend that we need to keep alive, the spirits that should keep us up at night, that might cause the superstitious to defend themselves by turning their shirts inside out or throwing a bit of salt over their shoulder.

Nasty fairies have rich deep roots so pervasive that they can be found in almost every culture, variants of the stories changing slightly from town to town, but keeping the same, basic premise. Names change, defenses against them change – but the ideas lurk in the dark of almost every civilization.

These are the fairies I like to write about, the ones who get my blood pumping, the ones that keep me up at night. The ones in Dreams and Shadows.

- C. Robert Cargill

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