why “a fairy tale in reverse”?

Our next guest blogger is Tia Nevitt. In addition to retelling fairy tales, Tia also reverses them. Here she explains what that means. Welcome, Tia!

I’ve been publishing some short stories as part of a series called Petroleum Sunset. It’s a post-petroleum era dystopian setting. The title of the first episode is “Once Upon a Gas Tank” and the subtitle is “A Fairy Tale in Reverse.” Rabia asked me what I meant by that.

That subtitle popped in my head when I was designing the cover. It is kind of a backwards fairy tale, not in that it begins happily and ends sadly, but because Ty and Joel, my protagonists, are growing up in a world that is stuck in reverse. They live in 2070 or so, but their lifestyle is very like the lifestyle of 1910, with lots of futuristic relics from the past showing up in their lives.

For example, in this first story, Ty’s family lives on a farm. They own the farm outright, but they have neither electricity nor a phone. However, their Ma is getting chemotherapy treatment at the hospital back in the city. Their last car has been stolen, and they now use horse-powered vehicles. And Pa has a couple of pulse pistols–now illegal. Grampa reminisces about the good old days when you didn’t even have to walk to school. Ty and his two brothers sleep in a junker bus that Pa decked out as a bedroom.

Cars play a big part in the story, even though their last car was stolen at the start of the story. A gang of muscle-car thieves is terrorizing the town, stealing everything with an engine and bullying the only gas station in town into providing special rates.

I tried to imagine how things would change in this world. Plastic would get valuable, and many liquids would be bottled in glass again. Grocery meats are wrapped in wax paper. Refrigeration would again depend on ice deliveries. Mules would replace tractors.

In the next episode, “Seeking a Fairy Goddoctor,” hospitals are experiencing shortages and medicine robberies. Blood is a black-market commodity. Hucksters peddle false medicine.

And in the third story, “A Happily Ever Right Now,” birth control has become scarce, and the sexual revolution is in reverse. Boys are expected to become men before they are twenty. And people start migrating back to where life is still easy, allowing squatters to take over their abandoned land.

But the main reason I called it “A Fairy Tale in Reverse” is because of this quote by Grampa in “Once Upon a Gas Tank”, where he reminisces on his youth, not far in our future:

“It was like living in a fairy tale, and we didn’t even know it,” he said one time. “A fairy tale where technology was the magic. Folks would have at least two cars, one for the mother and one for the father. And cars for the teenagers, too. They usually had a bunch of teevees and computers. Sometimes they’d have one of each in every room of the house–even the kitchen. Everyone had a phone they carried around wherever they went, and tablet devices that you boys can’t even dream about. We were always connected, as we used to say. Online. We should have known it wouldn’t last. It wasn’t a natural way to live, not at all.”

I hope you enjoy Ty and Joel’s world as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

About Tia:

Not even a stint in the military as an aircraft mechanic could erase Tia Nevitt’s love of fairy tales. To this day, she loves to read (and write) books that take her to another place, or another time, or both. She also dabbles in calligraphy, violin, piano and songwriting. Tia has worked on an assembly line, as a computer programmer, a technical writer and a business analyst. She lives in the southeast with her husband and daughter.

Tia’s novella, The Sevenfold Spell, won the 2012 EPIC ebook award for Fantasy.

Petroleum Sunset is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Get Each Post in Your Inbox

Sign up here to receive each blog post in your inbox.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


  1. Chicory says

    It’s always fun to hear the story behind the title. I have `Once Upon a Gas Tank’ on my nook -I’m just waiting for when I have a nice big chunk of time so I can read it all in one gulp. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *