VASILISA: A SERENDIPITOUS BOOK JOURNEY

What’s your favourite word? Mine is serendipity.

serendipity/sɛr(ə)nˈdɪpɪti/ noun
  1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
    “a fortunate stroke of serendipity”

There have been many instances of serendipity in my life, but one of the most recent happened last year, when I caught sight of a post on Facebook. But like all good stories, the beginning starts before that Facebook post …

Once upon a time, I saw Kate Forsyth at the Perth Writers Festival. As soon as I saw the Fairy Tales session in the programme, I knew I couldn’t miss that. Fairy tales have always captured my heart and the opportunity to hear Kate, a writer I admired so greatly, discuss her attraction to them was too good to pass by. That day, Kate’s words locked me in my seat, as spellbound by her personal story as by her books Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl had when I reviewed them. I wanted to meet her, to tell her how much she’d inspired me, as a reader but also as someone who was still coming to terms with being a storyteller in her heart. but the lines were too long and I was booked in to another session. The best I could do was lock in an interview her during promo for The Beast’s Garden, released later in 2015.

Let’s turn the pages past the paths of indecision (am I a writer?) and self-doubt (am I really a writer) to that moment where Kate’s path collided with mine in an unexpected – or serendipitous – way. Kate tells her version here and one thing we both agree on is that word: serendipity. Call it fate, destiny or good timing – when I saw Kate’s post asking, ‘One day I’d like to write #fairytale retellings of little-known tales with brave, clever heroines for teenage girls to read. Would anyone like to publish stories like that?’, I felt a buzz. A You-Can’t-Ignore-This buzz. Like a spell had been cast over a fairy-dusted me.

And so, I didn’t even hesitate, just drew my sword (aka my typing fingers) and jumped in there with courage, hope and a belief that this was meant to be. There was no need for a fairy godmother or handsome prince to help me out … it was most definitely a ‘You Got This’ moment.

Kate clearly took stock of this quivering but brave fangirl and decided to give her a go. And then, she said ‘Yes’! She agreed to work with Serenity Press, which I own with the wonderful Karen Mc Dermott, and Kate magicked up the most amazing illustrator in Lorena Carrington. ZING! I couldn’t imagine a better person to illustrate Kate’s retellings of Vasilisa the Brave and six other heroines. I have two of Lorena’s prints in my office and I look at them every day.

Behind all the buzz-ing and zing-ing and exercising our creative swords, we’ve all been working hard, slaying edit dragons and conquering naysayers. Later this year, Vasilisa the Brave and Other Tales of Brave Young Women will be available to buy. Isn’t the cover stunning?

Now, here’s the weird thing – I’m editing the book for Kate (yes, that has caused me moments of holy s**t mixed with wow, What-were-you-thinking and Can-I-do-this), and Karen and I will be designing the book. It’ll be available in hardcover, with glossy art paper pages and will be a work of art from the cover to the end pages.

Vasilisa has been a joy to work on from start to finish and working with creatives like Kate and Lorena, well, it blows my mind. The whole experience has been open, encouraging and exciting. I certainly did not expect to be doing something like this back in 2015 (I just wanted to go on one of Kate’s retreats, or maybe interview her at Stories on Stage). Now that the production process is well under way, I can say this: fortunate accidents are there for a reason Click To Tweet.

And when you stumble upon one, embrace it with all you’ve got. This story, at least, will be a fairy tale with a very happy ending.

Watch this space for more information about pre-ordering this beautiful book.

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