22 Feb 2017

Promised Land: a gay fairy tale

From Nine To Noon, 10:12 am on 22 February 2017

The classic fairy tale of a prince or princess meeting a peasant boy or girl and falling in love has been given a makeover in a new book for children.

It begins: "Once upon a time, in a land not far away, a place where no one cared if you were straight or you were gay."

Promised Land is written and published by Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris of Wellington.

They both work in the film industry and the pair wrote the book based on Reynold’s idea for a story that embraces the idea that two boys could fall in love and overcome adversity that is not connected to their sexuality - with an adventure along the way.

The say the story had to stand on its own and the fact that the characters are gay is incidental.

“I think we were aware of the fairy tale tropes, we know what's there normally and choosing in certain areas to subvert those tropes - so often there’s the damsel in distress so, well, let’s kill that right now!”

The story is about a farm boy and a prince who meet in a forest one day and their friendship soon blossoms into love.

The prince’s mum, the queen, meets a sinister man named Gideon who puts a spell on her to control her and get control of the kingdom and the Promised Land.

Promised Land the, authors say, is a place where no one cares what you look like or who you love. Somewhere “gay people can have a happily ever after". 

The characters have to overcome adversity but Harris says being gay is not the problem or the difficulty.

Reynolds and Harris worked with lead illustrators Bo Moore and Christine Luiten on character designs and the first piece of cover art that they needed to sell the idea of the book.

Those images were used to sell the idea of Promised Land and start a Kickstarter campaign.

“We asked for $25,000 ... we ended up with $43,000 [with] about 750 people [donating].”

The first run is selling well, they say, and a reprint is looking likely. There is also talk of a paperback version for overseas.

Promised Land is dedicated to the Pulse 49 the Orlando night clubbers who were killed in a gay hate attack in Florida last year.