Fairy tale children Hansel and Gretel grow up in debut novel
In “After the Forest,” Australian writer Kell Woods imagines what happened to Hansel and Gretel after they escaped the witch.
Kell Woods is an Australian writer who grew up with a love of books and writing. She studied English literature and librarianship and now her debut novel After the Forest has been published. It’s a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”
After the Forest is set in the dark and wild Black Forest of Germany and begins 15 years after the children escape from the witch.
Woods knew she wanted her book to focus on fairy tales and she chose “Hansel and Gretel” because not much had been done with it in terms of anything that was a novel.
In a recent What We’re Reading interview, Woods said, “I thought there's a lot of potential in that fairy tale. It's so dark and scary and disturbing. And I love anything set in the deep, dark forest.”
After the Forest reintroduces to us to the fairy tale children, Greta and Hans, now adults.
“These children have had been through such a terrible ordeal … nightmarish,” Woods said. “So I thought, ‘They're going to have issues. They're going to have trauma.’ I tried to imagine what they would be like as real adults. So yeah, they both have quite a few issues.”
"I really love those times when the world was very rural and superstitious and nature was bigger and scarier, and there were beasts in the forest."Writer Kell Woods on her love of fairy tales.
Woods portrayed Hans as irresponsible, selfish and angry, while Greta is an outcast, often wandering in the woods. The stigma and judgment from their ordeal followed them into adulthood.
A series of deaths and the appearance of wolves sets After the Forest into motion in a small village in the Black Forest of Germany in the 1600s. Woods traveled there for research and found it to be the perfect setting with its ancient forests and mountains and isolation.
Woods is already at work on her second novel, which will be based on another fairy tale.
“I really love those times when the world was very rural and superstitious and nature was bigger and scarier, and there were beasts in the forest,” she said. “I'll probably continue to work in that sort of period between 1400 and maybe 1800 before science really took over.”
Learn more about Australian writer Kell Woods on her website.
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