I’ve been experimenting with a SteamPunk style for my fairy tales this weekend, in preparation for the Storytelling Tent at the Eastbourne SteamPunk Festival this September.
Here’s an extract from my first attempt:
The Girl With The Clockwork Heart
It’s the year 1888. Princess Aurora is celebrating her 18th birthday – dancing and spinning at the Belle Ball to the rhythm of the brass band: the valves of the organ opening and puffing in melodies no longer imaginable. She can hear the soft, gently-humming tickatickatickatick of mechanical birds and butterflies in the air; sees a jewel-encrusted silver dragonfly flash past on clockwork wings. Laughing, she raises her arms in pirouette, like a music-box dancer.
Waiting, the Professor prepares his gift for her – his latest and greatest invention of wonder, to be unveiled after dinner that evening. The Prince, who will ask for her hand in marriage that night, also waits: watching her dance her final Maidens’ Sequence, half-listening to the Professor bumbling away behind him. Yet, waiting, waiting – waiting too – an uninvited and very unwelcome guest lurks unseen.
You see, eighteen years earlier when the Princess was born, a magic curse befell her. And that curse was about to strike.
The King and Queen had been blessed with only one child in all their years of happy marriage: their beloved, beautiful daughter, Aurora. She was precious, she was treasured. It was customary at the birth of an heir to invite the Thirteen Wise Godmothers to bestow their gifts on the new-born babe. But there was a problem. The thirteenth godmother, Carabosse, was stranger than the rest. She was much older than her sisters: she cackled and croaked through her crooked lips and nose. Her pale skin was drawn in around her dark, hollow eyes, and yet hung loose at her jowls in folds. She pulled her dark hooded cloak around her face and melted into its shadows.
While the other twelve sisters made the golden birds and glittering butterflies, designed the lifelike dancing fairies, this sister created the black widow spider: scurrying by on clicking legs; the scarab beetle: taking flight on metal wings; the vampire bats and goblin fae.
The King and Queen considered it. ‘Far better not to invite her’, they thought. ‘We’ll just have to make sure she doesn’t find out.’