BOW VALLEY – Inviting readers on a fanatical journey, a former Bow Valley reporter's new book of short stories The Swan Suit tells human stories with a fairy tale twist.
Author Katherine Fawcett described her latest novel as short stories that blend fairy tale whimsy with dark humour and horror. She hopes her carefully crafted tales take people on a journey that draws them in and encourages them to re-evaluate their own lives.
“I like traditional storytelling like folklore, fairy tales and fables,” Fawcett said.
“It’s a good jumping-off point for creativity. I think there’s something universal that’s examined in fairy tales and that curiosity about why things are the way they are.”
The Swan Suit is a collection of short stories based loosely on the ideas of transformation, the costumes people wear and the bodies they live in on their human journey.
Fawcett said many of the stories are told through the lens of fairy tale tropes and themes, although not all of them.
She added that when writing she often looks at fairy tales through the experience of having one’s body change.
“As a woman, our bodies go through a hell of a lot from puberty to our monthly cycles to pregnancy to menopause to then you’re an old woman,” Fawcett said.
“It kind of feels a little out of control, that metamorphosis, that human metamorphosis of the physical cycles and emotional cycles that we go through.”
These questions are interesting and exciting to examine, she said, especially using the filter of fairy tales.
Fawcett said she hopes the book is thought-provoking for readers and it invokes a sense of magic in the experience of being human.
The title story, The Swan Suit, captures best the experience of transforming, she said. The tale opens with a swan on a lake shore who unzips her coat of feathers to reveal a young woman ready to dive into the water and swim.
Unknown to her, a fisherman watches as this transformation takes place and he falls hopelessly in love. Before he can speak to her the swan puts suit back on and flies away.
“That’s representative of the costumes that we wear and who is true underneath and what is true and what you can believe,” Fawcett said.
Even though the stories she creates are fantastical, Fawcett said the challenge in writing lies in believably telling tales. If she can transport readers to that magical place, it opens up all the possibilities on the journeys they can go on.
Fawcett is a former reporter for the Canmore Leader newspaper. Working for the paper did not necessarily inform the creative aspects of her writing, she said, but it taught her critical skills in terms of discipline when it comes to writing and deadlines.
“I don’t think it necessarily helped me with the creative elements, Canmore was pretty wild back then but it wasn’t that wild,” Fawcett said with a laugh.
“But, it did help me with the discipline and story structure – it also solidified the ‘I am the writer’ in me, that identity.”
Fawcett said she is thankful for all the writing opportunities she has been able to embrace because they have helped guide her down a path of different genres to explore creatively. Although fiction remains her favourite genre, she said with a chuckle.
The Swan Suit was released on March 14. Fawcett was planning on doing a reading at the Canmore Public Library, but it has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Swan Suit is available now, online and through Café Books.