I’m so excited to have Tiffany Mandrake here today. Tiffany writes bad fairy tales. I don’t mean her tales are bad (they are actually extremely good), but after living in the grounds of the Abadamy of Badness for some years, Tiffany has rubbed noses with some ‘not quite good’ fairies, and we are so lucky that she has decided to share her experiences with the world.
1. Tiffany, you have such a magical sounding name. Were you named after anyone from the fairy realm?
Not exactly, Dee. (And isn’t Dee Scribe a magic name? Your magical talent is, perhaps, describing, just as Nan’s was in “Witch Week”?)
My first name is redolent of fancy pretties and timeless elegance, not to say breakfast, while my last name hints at a darker persona who enjoys growing and harvesting dodgy herbs.
2. Is the Abadamy of Badness like any school you ever attended?
Oh yes! Like any good school (and I use the word “good” in a relative sense, meaning, “suitable for the pupils’ wellbeing”) the Hags’ Abademy of Badness is dedicated to giving youngsters the mixture of independence and nurturing they need. My closet cousin in Tasmania, who will deny to her last breath that we are in any way related, remembers some of her teachers with real gratitude and retrospective affection. Without Mrs Martin, Mrs Ting, Mrs Collis and Mr Tucker, she would have been a less-educated person, and so less-able to write for a living. She wishes they were still alive so she could still be sending them Christmas cards.
3. You live in a cottage on the grounds of the Abadamy of Badness. Is it difficult to write with so much happening around you? Or is this a good thing because it gives you something to write about?
Having plenty happening around one is important to some writers. If one simply shuts oneself off in a peaceful room and writes, one runs the risk of navel-gazing and losing touch with the real world. On the other hand, there are times when one must retreat from the hurly burly if one is to get any work done.
4. Each book in Your Little Horrors series seems to feature a main character who is naughty but nice? Do you think readers get sick of goody two shoes characters that never even spill chocolate down their white shirt when they’re slurping on a milkshake?
Perhaps, but it is FAR more difficult for a writer to make a goody-goody character interesting. It is a bit like writing about a super-strong or super-intelligent character. Unless that character has major flaws or weaknesses, there is no drama. Who would read about Superman if he wasn’t affected by kryptonite? The challenge with the Little Horrors is to present them as they really are. They are bad fairies. That is their blood and their heritage. BUT, they are also little beings with the emotional development and moral sense of a human child of eight or so. They want their peers and families to love and accept them, but they have an emerging sense of who they are. They want to move on. There is much misconception about bad fairies. The truth is that they are generally not evil. They are the spice in the pudding, and the salt in the stew. They keep humankind from being smug and complacent. In fact, I have come to believe that the GOOD fairies, with their bland niceness and insistence on thinking the best of everyone… not to speak of their acceptance of the unacceptable… may do more harm than bad fairies. A lolly might make a crying child stop squalling, so that’s a sweet deed to a good fairy. But, I ask you, Dee – is it REALLY a good thing? A bad fairy would be more likely to show the squalling kid a flying critter-fae or to drop out of a tree and yell BOOOOO!
5. Shhh! Promise I won’t tell, but who is your favourite main character and why? Is it Flax the Feral Fairy, Mal the Mischievous Mermaid, Tikki the Pixie or Nanda the Gnome?
Ooh, this is so difficult! They are all fascinating little creatures. Flax is an orphan, poor sweet, and she loves her friend the dog-fae, even if she can never say so. She has such poor little wings that the good fairies secretly despise her. I love Flax. Mal tries SO hard to keep up with her ineffably beautiful and bad family. With a perfectly bad sister like Sal, how can little Mal make a splash? I love Mal. Nanda is a sad case. She truly believes she is a GOOD fairy. How sad is that? It doesn’t help that she is tall and pretty for a gnome, and has bigger wings than most gnomes have. This still leaves her FAR short of the height, beauty and ‘wingfulness’ of the good fairies, so she’s stuck in the middle. I love Nanda. And Tikki, oh, Tikki Flicker is such fun to be around. She flickers about, plays tag and disrupts everyone. Her Uncle Sedge, who is a GOOD pixie has had to come to terms with what she is. I hope that one day he will be able to admit his affection for her, just as I can. I love Tikki.
I trust that answer is sufficient? Hmm! (Did she actually answer that question?)
6. Obviously, there are fairies at the bottom of your garden at the Abadamy of Badness, how can I get them to come to mine? I’ve tried putting out fish and chips, and honey comb (my favourite foods) but that just seems to attract feral cats and drop bears. Any suggestions?
If you want to attract good fairies, put out bland, sweet white-flour goodies. If you want bad fairies, put out something interesting and mark it with a big KEEP OFF sign! You should also make sure you have moss, nettles and feral flowers.
7. I have a young friend called Eva Brick who wants to write a book about the icky things you find at the bottom of the garden (I think it’s a recycling guide). Can you give her any tips on how to start her story?
She should start by mentioning ickiness as quickly as possible. Once this has focussed attention (children are like bad fairies, they LOVE to explore ickiness), then she can hit ‘em with the good stuff about worms, compost and recycled food.
8. Can you please give me a list of all the published and ‘coming out’ books in your Little Horrors series so that I can work out how to get my badge at the Abadamy of Badness?
– Flax the Feral Fairy (already out)
– Mal the Mischievous Mermaid (already out)
– Nanda the Naughty Gnome (coming soonish)
– Tikki the Tricky Pixie (coming laterish)
If Tiffany was in the habit of thanking people, she would thank Dee. As it is, she will merely send her cat Speedwell to wee on Dee’s lawn.
The ineffable Tiff!
Thanks Tiff (and my lawn thanks you too – we’re in drought here). So lovely of you to visit! I can’t wait to meet Nanda and Tikki when they emerge. Hope you’ll flit past again.