Boston Book Festival 2020 Boston Book Festival 2020

Fiction: Timeless Tales

- EDT
Crowdcast 39
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Andrea Hairston
Master of Poisons

Andrea Hairston is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy playwright, novelist, and professor of theatre and Africana studies at Smith College. Hairston's first novel, Mindscape, won the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and was shortlisted for both the Philip K. Dick Award and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Her other works include Redwood and Wildfire, which won the Tiptree and Carl Brandon Awards; and Will Do Magic For Small Change, which was a finalist for the Mythopoeic, Lambda, and Tiptree Awards. Her 2020 novel Master of Poisons tells the story of a crumbling Empire and two of its inhabitants wrapped up in magic, folklore, and a land facing desertification.

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S.L. Huang
Burning Roses

S.L. Huang is a Hugo-nominated and Amazon-bestselling speculative fiction writer. Her short fiction has sold to Analog, Nature, Stranger Horizons, and more. Huang has also published several novels, including the blockbuster Cas Russell series. The first book of the Cas Russell series, Zero Sum Game, landed on the Best Books of the Month list at The Verge, Book Riot, Unbound Worlds, SYFY, and Kirkus. Her 2020 novella Burning Roses follows the story of two middle-aged classic fairy tale heroes uniting to protect what they love.

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Gregory Maguire
A Wild Winter Swan

Gregory Maguire is a bestselling novelist and children’s author famous for his inventive retellings of classic children’s stories. His most famous work, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, was adapted into the blockbuster musical Wicked, which is now the fifth longest running musical in Broadway history. Wicked was followed by the sequels Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz, which all imaginatively expand on L. Frank Baum’s original Oz books. Maguire’s other popular works include Mirror, Mirror ( a revised telling of Snow White) and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (a takeoff on Cinderella). His newest novel, A Wild Winter Swan, transforms Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Wild Swans” into a coming-of-age drama set in 1960s-era New York.

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Lauren Rizzuto is a writer, reviewer, and a graduate of Simmons College’s Children’s Literature MA program, where she has also taught. Rizzuto is currently pursuing a PhD in English at Tufts University and is an instructor of English at Dillard University in New Orleans.


Whether they are the bedtime stories we grew up with or retellings we discover as adults, folk and fairy tales from various traditions offer enduring motifs, genuine wisdom—and plenty of juicy material for talented novelists to riff on. In this session, we’ll talk with three novelists whose latest work draws directly or indirectly from these timeless tales. In Master of Poisons, Andrea Hairston combines the lyrical patterns and rhythms of African folkloric traditions with the sensibilities of postcolonial literatures to build a complex epic fantasy that Kirkus Reviews calls “a mind-expanding must-read” in a starred review. Wicked author Gregory Maguire sets  Wild Winter Swan, his latest fairy tale adaptation (based on Anderson’s “The Wild Swans”) in 1960s New York City, in an elegant reimagining that takes on issues of class and culture. And SL Huang remixes European and Asian fairy tale traditions in her new novella, Burning Roses, which finds Rosa (aka Little Red Riding Hood) reluctantly joining forces with the mythological Chinese archer Hou Yi for an epic quest. Lauren Rizzuto will host this delightful conversation about tales old and new. Sponsored by Greenough Brand Storytellers.