Social Media down the Rabbit Hole: A Talk with Tim Manley

Laura Kemmerer

Your late night Facebook newsfeed might have you feeling like you’re missing out—someone’s getting married, someone is pregnant, and someone else just bought their first house. Everyone seems to have their happy ever after; everyone that is, except you. One author has set out to bring the fairy tales back to the fairy tale endings so touted on social media.

Nvate Facebook, Fairy Tales for 20 Somethings, Tim Manley, Tumblr, Peter Pan, Ugly Duckling, Alice in Tumblr-land

Credit: Tim Manley

Tim Manley, owner and operator of the blog Fairy Tales for 20 Somethings, has something new to bring to the arena of these cherished stories with his book “Alice in Tumblr-land”. The Ugly Duckling has an Instagram filter that makes her look awesome, and Peter Pan is too old to trick or treat. The fairy tales of our childhood are all grown up, and Manley has brought them into the modern world and all that entails. I had a chance to speak with Manley about his book and his work with fairy tales.

LCK: With so many authors taking classic fairy tales and reinventing them, what made you decide to tap into things like Tumblr as a source of inspiration and reinterpretation?

TM: The impetus for the Tumblr was not to reinvent or to reimagine fairy tales, but to attempt to make sense of my life and the lives of people around me. It felt natural to return to fairy tales to do this, as they were such an integral part of how I understood the world as a child. But the goal wasn’t necessarily to give a new spin on fairy tales, although that may have been a result, but to make sense of modern life, which includes relationships with technology, [and so on].

This might seem like an inconsequential difference, but I think it matters in the book where the commitment is less to the traditional narratives of fairy tales and more to the emotional truths of being alive right now.

LCK: What originally drew you to work with fairy tales? Do you think fairy tales still retain a message that can apply to the modern world?

TM: That’s a good question. Why are people still interested in fairy tales? Part of it is likely nostalgia. Something I’m curious about is how we would feel about these stories if we’d never encountered them in childhood. Would they just seem like wacky narratives, or would they still resonate with some sort of secret humanity, and secret truth?

LCK: Was there a story you enjoyed working on the most?

TM: Every character is close to me in some way, but writing Peter Pan’s stories are probably the most fun. My version of Peter Pan is just a little bit dumb, and it makes me happy to write these stories about him because it makes the part of me that’s a little bit dumb feel better.

If you could go back and do anything differently, what would it be?

I don’t think I’d change anything about the Tumblr or the book. I’m proud of them both, and they also each exist as a documentation of a certain story in my life, so I think any “flaws” they’d have are actually part of what they’re about.

Are there any plans to continue on with his project, whether in the form of a sequel or through Tumblr?

I’d love to keep writing more fairy tales, as long as they feel worthwhile to me and to others. I’m also excited to get started on some new projects I’ve had going through my head for a while.

Do you have any words of wisdom for up-and-coming writers?

I’ve asked that question of so many writers, and very rarely did someone say something that satisfied the need I was having. What was it that I was really asking? Should I continue writing? Is what I say of value? When will I stop doubting myself?

Nvate Facebook, Fairy Tales for 20 Somethings, Tim Manley, Tumblr, Peter Pan, Ugly Duckling, Alice in Tumblr-land

Credit: Tim Manley

Here is a relevant moment: When I met my editor for the first time, the question I immediately wanted to ask him was, “So what’s it like working with writers?”

The point being: You might be a writer and not know it. All the writers I know are more or less just as plagued with self-doubt as they’ve ever been. But they keep working despite it. That is actually one of the only things that relieves the doubt: knowing that even if you feel it, you’re going to keep working anyway.

You can follow Manley’s further developments and insights at his blog Fairy Tales for 20 Somethings and you can purchase his book, “Alice in Tumblr-land.”

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