All posts by Leif Smart

THE REGENDER PROJECT: The Happy Princess and Other Tales

Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince(ss) and Other Tales is the third regendered novel I’m officially releasing , which is available for free for a short time. Unlike the others, it’s a collection of short stories rather than a full length novel. It’s also the first time I’ve adjusted the title, morphing the original Happy Prince into the regendered Happy Princess.I was originally against making such changes since it felt like it was disconnecting too much from the original text. In this case, I didn’t have much choice since keeping the original title would’ve negated the point of regendering. Having seen the change though, I think I quite like it, and will probably be more inclined to change the titles in the future if necessary.

Being a collection of short stories, The Happy Princess and Other Tales make a great introduction to what you can expect from a regendered novel. Each story is a bite size narrative, usually wrapped around a moral, you can read in a short period of time. My personal favourite is probably The Devoted Friend because it’s all too easy imagine the ‘friend’ in the story being real.

The reason I chose The Happy Princess and Other Tales for regendering was due more to the original author, Oscar Wilde, than the stories themselves. I explain this in a little more detail in the author’s note below. As always, it main contain spoilers, so read at your own risk!

Author’s Note:

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The Happy Princess and Other tales is slightly different from the other novels I’ve chosen to regender. Most obviously it’s a collection of short stories rather than a novel. While these also provide interesting results from the regendering, the main reason it was chosen was due to its author, Oscar Wilde.

While my focus for regendering novels has been the gender imbalances, I’m also conscious of how little representation minorities and other marginalised segments of the population receive. Which is why I think Wilde makes a good choice to have his work regendered.

Despite his skill with words, and his obvious wit, Wilde was persecuted and eventually imprisoned for his sexuality. This is something still occurring in many parts of the world today, and even in western cultures there remains plenty of discrimination against homosexuals.

The regendering itself revealed mostly challenges to gender roles. A few of the stories continued the stereotype of girls being superficial and being more concerned with pretty dresses or flowers. It was interesting to see this reversed after the regendering, a situation I think is far more common these days. Then there’s the case of the Devoted Friend, which suggests that such toxic friendships are not limited to either gender.

All in all, it was interesting to regender a collection of short stories and quite a different experience to a full novel. I’ll certainly keep it in mind as an option for future possible regenders. As for Oscar Wilde, expect to see a regender of his more famous work, The Importance of Being Earnest, sometime in the future!

THE REGENDER PROJECT: Around the World in Eighty Days

Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days” is the second regendered novel I’m officially releasing and it’ll be available for free for a short time. It wasn’t actually the second novel I worked on and has only been completed relatively recently. The reason I moved it up in the release order was because of how much I enjoyed reading the regendered version. It proved to be such an easy read, while at the same time demonstrating everything I wanted from regendering a novel.

While the feat itself is fairly easy to achieve these days, there’s still something about a race against time, particularly towards a destination or along a route, we can call relate to. Anyone who’s ever missed a train, bus, or connecting flight knows just how much of a difference it makes to their total journey. Throw in a few obstacles and mishaps and you have a classic adventure story.

Perhaps what I enjoyed most was how easy it was to read after regendering. It read just like every other adventure novel, and the fact the main protagonist, along with most of the other characters, were now female had almost no impact on the story. Perhaps there was some bending in how characters behaved in their new genders compared to what we might expect, but that’s exactly the story of impact I’m looking for by regendering novels. To explore gender stereotypes and our preconceived notions of how they should act.

As usual, Around the World in Eighty Days had its own unique challenges and quirks to address. You can read more about them in the author’s note below. Be warned, though, it may contain spoilers if you’re not familiar with the story.

Author’s Note:

Click to Read More
Around the World in Eighty Days has probably been the most enjoyable novel for me to regender so far. While still a classic piece of literature, like all the others, at its heart it is still an adventure tale.

While the main protagonist is English, there was a number of major foreign characters, with matching names and vocabularies. For the most part, these were fairly straight forward to regender but some, like Fogg’s companion, Jeanne Passepartout, caused me some consternation. One of the guidelines I’d set for regendering was to keep names the same whenever they were used for both genders. This didn’t quite work out in this case since, while Jean works as a female name in English, the original male character’s name is French. I decided I needed to bend the guideline a little and change the name to Jeanne, the French female version of Jean.

One of the more interesting effects of the regendered novel was the transformation of Aouda into a ‘bachelor in distress’. That phrase itself doesn’t quite regender from ‘damsel in distress’, but the effect is the same. Aouda remains the same passive, secondary character that women are generally relegated to in most forms of narrative. Seeing a male character put into that role, and subservient to the proactive female characters, felt quite jarring at times, which is exactly the effect I’m trying to achieve with the Regender Project.

Speaking of Aouda, he’s the subject of another section I had particular difficulty with. In the original text, Aodua is female and is described by comparing her to a famous passage that describes a queen. After regendering her, this no longer makes as much sense since the now male character is being compared to a beautiful, historical queen. Since the passage is a historical piece of work, it also didn’t fit my own guidelines to regender the queen into a king. After much back and forth, I decided that having the male Aouda compared to the female queen was the best option to use, though it doesn’t quite flow as well as I’d like.

Finally, I should also mention the cover. As most of you are probably aware by now, Philomena Fogg’s trip around the world doesn’t involve a balloon at all. It’s briefly considered as an option but she quickly dismisses the idea. Yet the balloon has become intricately associated as a symbol for the story ever since the 1956 movie. Even knowing how false it was, I had the image stuck in my mind from the moment I chose the novel for regendering and just couldn’t shake it when it came time to create the cover.

A Collection of Unfortunate Tales

Hello again!

First up, this has been a crazy week. Well, a crazy few weeks actually. It’s amazing how many things need to be done in order to build a website and launch a collection of books. No doubt it’ll continue to be crazy around here while I get on top of everything.

On the plus side, the reason everything is so crazy is because I’ve actually got books to put out. Quite a few books actually. The bulk of them will be for The Regender Project, but I also have some of my own writing to release.

My original goal when I set out to become an author was to write novels. While that’s still my plan, I’ve found short stories to be a better format to use while learning the writing craft. They’re certainly not easier. If anything, I find them to be quite a bit harder, but their size means they can be finished within a reasonable amount of time. I can then learn from having finished a completed piece of writing before moving on to the next one.

The end result is that, as I’ve practiced and worked on my writing, I’ve collected quite a few stories. As I mentioned in this post, it is these stories I’ll be releasing together as A Collection of Unfortunate Tales, accompanied by a free promotion.

Most of the stories in the collection are fairly quirky, with a few twists and turns thrown in, but they’re quite diverse in the tones they have. They range from comedic, to thought provoking, to ones that are a little more dark. Hopefully that means there’s something for everyone in it.

So grab a copy of A Collection of Unfortunate Tales by clicking the link below. It’s free for a short time, so be sure to tell all your friends about it also, and leave a review about what you think of it!

Also, be sure to check back later in the week when I introduce The Regender Project properly, along with the first of its novels!

A New Year and a New Beginning

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year’s period. Mine was pretty fantastic but also filled with a fair amount of work. As you might have noticed, my website has been completely overhauled. I didn’t mind the old one but it had turned into more of a diary and personal journal than I had originally intended it to be. I decided since I was ready to release some books this year it made sense to give the site a fresh start as well. Turns out that rebuilding a website takes a bit more time than I thought, and while I’m happy with the results so far, I’ll keep working on it over the next few months to make it better and easier for everyone to use.

Did you notice how I snuck releasing books in there? Yep, I’m finally ready to ready some real pieces of work and start promoting them. Previously I’d published some short stories but it was mostly to get some experience in the self-publishing process and working with Amazon. Those stories are now included in my first original work, A Collection of Unfortunate Tales, along with the best of the other stories I’ve written over the last few years. They’re mostly quirky tales, with a few twists and turns thrown in. There’s also a wide range in their tones, so there is something for everyone in the collection.

The other major release I have is The Regender Project. It’s something I’ve been working on for a few years now, and thinking about for even longer. You can read more about it on The Rengender Project page but the short version is, I’ve taken classic novels and re-written them after swapping the genders of all the characters. So Sherlock Holmes is now a woman, as is Dr Jekyll, whose alter ago has become Miss Hyde. The goal in doing this is to help promote gender equality by illustrating how unbalanced the genders have been represented, historically, in fiction.

Having worked on the project for a while, I now have a number of regendered novels are available. I’d originally planned to release them, one at a time, during the first week of January, along with a free promotional period. Unfortunately, it turns out publishing can take more time and effort also, so I’ve had to adjust my plan somewhat. I’ll now be introducing one of the books each week, along with the free promotional period until I’ve caught up with all the novels I’ve regendered. Then I’ll switch to releasing two new books a month for the rest of the year. Sign up to my newsletter now so I can keep you up to date with all these releases.

In the meantime, click on this link to download and read my short story collection, free for a short time, then feel free to write a review telling me what you think!