Inclusivity in Fairy Tales podcast episode (SKIFFY AND FANTY)

A quick post to share that Brittany Warman, Sara Cleto, and I were guests for the inclusivity in fairy tales episode of the speculative fiction podcast Skiffy and Fanty (in its own words, a podcast about “anything and everything related to the science fiction and fantasy genres”), and we had a great discussion with hosts Julia Rios and Mike Underwood! I hope you’ll give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Photo shoot in FAERIE (by Prince’s former photographer) and fairy-tale jewelry! :D

So! I’ve got two beautiful things to share with you today. First up, not only will I have an article in the summer 2017 issue of Faerie magazine (this one about four mythical beings from Hindu and Buddhist lore), but I actually got to model as a mermaid for Alice Hoffman‘s latest story!!!!! I’m over the moon. And Steve Parke, who did the photo shoot, used to be Prince’s photographer. Yes, that Prince of all things purple. I can’t wait, and here’s a sneak peek! (You’ll be able to get the paper and/or PDF version in June.)

This means so much to me, as someone who in her teens used to think she was ugly and worthless. If you’ve read either my essay on the topic or my story “Krishna Blue” in Kaleidoscope, you might understand. (The bullying in “Krishna Blue” was taken from my own life–though sadly I didn’t get to eat colors as a result. That would have been fabulous.) You should definitely know by now, though, how much true inclusivity means to me, and Faerie has been working very hard to make that part of its foundation–magic is for everyone. So to get to represent that on the page both in word and image . . . my heart is overflowing.

My second piece of wonderful news is that my amazing jeweler friend Meenoo Mishra of Minou Bazaar decided to make a fairy-tale collection after taking the Carterhaugh School’s long course on the fairy tale, and she included pieces based on my retelling of Tatterhood called “Lavanya and Deepika”! (I’m so happy this story has resonated for so many people.) How gorgeous; I’m absolutely treating myself to the Lavanya set, though I’d delightedly wear Deepika, too. Check out the entire collection in her Etsy shop; it’s stunning.




New story out (“Ghost Notes”)!

I’ve been away this past week (first a much-needed meditation retreat–we need contemplation and compassion for others so much, especially right now–and then a visit with a wonderful friend who helped me figure out what to do with the rest of my novel revision and just inspired me in general), so I wasn’t around to announce this, but I have a story out in Mythic Delirium! It’s a creepy harp flash piece called “Ghost Notes,” and I hope you like it.

It’s in good company, too; my friends and talented colleagues Sara Cleto and Jessica Wick also have pieces out in the same issue. Please go enjoy!

Two happy things: an essay (live) and a poem (forthcoming)!

I’m thrilled to announce two things! First, my essay “#beautifulresistance” is live in Uncanny magazine, and I hope you’ll go read it. (Among other things, it’s my love letter to Link from The Legend of Zelda.)

The other thing is my first collaboration, a poem with dear friend and folklorist Sara Cleto! It’s called “Starskin, Sealskin,” and will appear in a forthcoming issue of Uncanny. Whee!

Two bits of news

Hi, friends! It’s pretty icy where I am, so I’m snuggled up under a blanket with a mug of tea as I write this.

I have a couple fun things to share with you. First, if you’re in the NYC/NYC metro area, I’ll be there on Monday, 20 March, for a panel with the editor and some of the other authors in Here We Are: Feminism for the Real world, which will be moderated by David Levithan as part of the New York City Teen Author Festival. It’s free and open to the public; please come see us!

The second thing is that my article about three Hindu goddesses is now available in the spring 2017 issue of Faerie magazine! The theme of the issue is “Warriors and Goddesses,” and it’s full of amazing women and gorgeous photography. I hope you’ll check it out! It’s available online here (and if PDFs are more your thing, here), and if you live in the States, you should also be able to find it at your local Barnes and Noble bookstore.

New story up at the Hanging Garden Stories Tumblr!

The prompt for this story, titled “So Sweet a Changeling,” was “Shakespeare with a sci-fi twist.” Enjoy!

When Titania took the boy away, it wasn’t so bad, not really.

A stolen child, a changeling. The faeries had told him stories like that. It was fun to fall inside one. To pretend.

She wore gowns of gossamer and a flower crown; it smelled like lavender and roses. She gave him his own bright garden to play in and told him he was the child of a raja, a father who was too busy to spend time with him. She put wings on his back and glitter on his cheeks and kept him close. They wove daisy chains and napped in her butterfly-sprinkled bower.

It wasn’t so bad, not really. In fact, sometimes the boy had fun. Most of the time, even. But sometimes he remembered shiny steel objects and white spaces, even a cage with a rat in it. Sometimes he dreamed he was in the cage, and then everything got cloudy.

New anthology sale: TOIL & TROUBLE!

I’m so excited to share that I’m going to have a story in Toil & Trouble, an anthology about witches that’s going to be awesome! Just look at the editors and the lineup!

From here: Michael Strother at HarlequinTeen has acquired Toil & Trouble, an anthology of feminist stories of witchcraft, co-edited by Tess Sharpe (l.) and Jessica Spotswood and featuring contributions from Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Cordova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Karuna Riazi, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, Tristina Wright, and Brenna Yovanoff. The book will be published in fall 2018; Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret brokered the deal for world rights.

My essay “#beautifulresistance” will be in the next issue of UNCANNY!

I sold my essay titled “#beautifulresistance” to Uncanny magazine as part of its ongoing Protesting 101 campaign, and it will be out in issue 15. I’m really, really honored and pleased, and I can’t wait to share it with you. (Spoiler: I reference The Legend of Zelda. Yes, really.)

In the meantime, I’m writing as best I can and keeping my heart open, and I send you all love.

An introductory reading list for South Asian literature!

So if you recall, I was fortunate enough to teach part of a lesson on the Beastly Bride (ATU tale type 400, “The Quest for the Lost Bride”) lesson as part of the Carterhaugh School’s fairy tale course. (Such a great course; Brittany and Sara are super smart, funny, and excellent teachers, and I’m learning so much! I highly recommend signing up for their future offerings.) I spoke about “Ganga and Shantanu” from the Mahabharata and a couple other beastly women stories, and the reception was so enthusiastic, with the students asking where they could find more, I went to my fellow desi writers, got their suggestions, and put together a reading list.

Then I mentioned it on Twitter as part of a larger thread, and again, people asked where they might find these stories, and could they see this list? Yes, they–and you–can! I’m sharing the transcribed thread here for you along with the list.

Because story is how we change minds, I’m compiling a list of Mahabharata and Ramayana (originals, retellings, and comics) texts and other bits of mythology and folktales for the Carterhaugh School fairy tale class. We, particularly we Americans, really do need to become familiar with art and narrative from all over the world, not just Western stuff. Sometimes we diaspora even don’t know the stories from our heritage because of colonization and assimilation and Western stuff always being promoted instead. We all need to understand where other cultures and peoples are coming from and not just think the American/Western gaze is universal.

And the best way to do that is–say it with me!–through art and story.

Because everything we believe IS a story. We’ve internalized the stories we know until they’re mental wallpaper, quietly influencing how we think. We tend to believe the values we’ve learned are the only ones and always the right ones. But really, just they’re a set of stories we’ve been taught. One limited way of looking at the world. One limited way of thinking about other people. So we need to branch out and reach for other art and story. Watch other films. Get the work in translation, or get what people are writing in English elsewhere. Look at their art, and learn its history. Make “art history” global. #beautifulresistance

And now, the list!

This list is a place to start from, not an exhaustive compilation! (There’s so much I haven’t even mentioned.) Some may be more difficult to find than others, but check the Internet and your library’s interlibrary loan service.

Note that some of the novels and comics and such are told from a religious point of view, and others are not. Do your research and find out about different versions and learn how they differ from region to region and era to era; understanding context and how it applies to a story is vital! 🙂 And of course, have fun.

Books and mythology info:

Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari.

The Mahabharata (Penguin Classics has a pretty good abridged and translated version by John D. Smith).

Bibek Debroy has a more recent and more thoroughly footnoted Mahabharata translation (second-ever full-length version).

English translations of the Mahabharata and Ramayana are online for free (ask Google for more!): (lovely albeit flawed public domain translations of the Ramayana, Kumarasambhava, and others)

Vikramorvishyam by Kalidasa (the epic drama about the apsara Urvashi and her human lover Pururavas):

Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol by Sri Aurobindo (the epic poem about Savitri and how she rescued her love Satyavan from death):

More general:

Ashok Banker has so many books narrating Hindu mythology, he gets his own listing:

Ramesh Menon also has plenty:

Devdutt Pattanaik is a mythology scholar:

Indian Demonology: The Inverted Pantheon by N. N. Bhattacharyya

Indian Serpent Lore: Or the Nagas in Hindu Legend by J. Vogel

Sanjay Patel’s books for children, including one on the Ramayana:


Comics and graphic novels:

Amar Chitra Katha comics:

Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean and Sauptik: Blood and Flowers by Amruta Patil (visually gorgeous graphic novels, and more of a philosophical musing on episodes of the Mahabharata).

Krishna: A Long Journey Within by Abhishek Singh (graphic novel).

The Ravanayana comic series by Vijayendra Mohanty and Vivek Goel.



Panchatantra (ancient Sanskrit collection of animal fables)
Hitopadesha Tales (collection of fables)
Jataka Tales (Buddhist morality fables)
Folktales From India by A. K. Ramanujan

Birbal stories:

Folk-Tales of Bengal: With 32 illus. in colour by Warwick Goble:…


For later reading (as these reinterpret and play with the originals):

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni (the Mahabharata from Draupadi’s point of view)
Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan (the Ramayana from the villain Ravana’s point of view)
Sitayana by K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar (the Ramayana from Sita’s point of view)
The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor (a funny send-up of the Mahabharata)
The Aryavarta Chronicles trilogy by Krishna Udayasankar (a retelling of the Mahabharata that sometimes turns it on its head)
“The Difficulty of Being Good” by Gurcharan Das is a great intro to the Mahabharata as a work of ethical philosophy.


Secondary reading:

There is plenty of literature on the epics and source texts by various scholars. Ask Google, or pick a book online and go though its bibliography for more resources.