Foreword for “Peter Pan”
One way for a writer to inspire him or herself to write a new story, is to retell an old story. I recall a time when writers reimagining existing fairy tales was all the rage in the literary marketplace.
The following story, Peter Pan, is technically a reimagined fairy tale, but I prefer to think of it as an offbeat mystery or crime story. In fact, I wrote the story secondarily for the fantasy pulp magazine market, but primarily for the detective/mystery pulp magazine market, like Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
I also had a literary goal of inserting as few introspective sidebars about the characters’ pasts and motivations as possible. I know what you’re thinking: Blasphemy! Authorial introspection is critical to the reader relating to the protagonist and antagonist.
Today, I would generally agree with your point. But back when I wrote the original version of this story, I was overwhelmed by the amount of authorial introspection I found in most fantasy stories. Authors were constantly interrupting the flow of their narrative to tell me some long, lyrically described minor detail about, or inner thought of, their character. I grew to resent it. I felt authorial introspection had devolved into authorial intrusion.
My response was to see how minimalist I could make a reimagined fairy tale that was part fantasy and part mystery. And—surprise! surprise!—the story worked! My writing community at the time, “Frank’s Writing Group,” who had heard a lot of my work, and about whom I’ll say more in a future post, received the story very well.
When I wondered what tale from my “trunk” of unpublished stories to post next, some friends from my writing community suggested “Peter Pan.” But things have changed since the story was originally written, and so it needed revision.
There’s a danger in messing with success. But over time, I’ve wondered if a balanced amount of authorial intrusion, without giving too much away, might make an even better story. I’ll leave it to you, and especially the members of Frank’s Group who still remember the original story, to tell me if I’ve gone too far.
A word of warning though: This is a detective/crime story, and it contains more violence and brutality than most fairy tales—except for the originals from the Brothers Grimm. Also, there’s a brief moment of coarse dialog, so cover your metaphorical ears.