Today I’m hosting my stop for the blog tour celebrating the ground-breaking anthology A Change is Going to Come. The anthology features stories and poetry by Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga, Yasmin Rahman, Phoebe Roy and Nikesh Shukla. We have one of the authors here today with a wonderful guest post (which features my namesake…!)
Top Ten Literary Transformations
by Phoebe Roy
1. Mayor Richard Wilkins, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In the Buffyverse, ‘ascension’ is a magical process which allows a human or demon subject to transform themselves into a creature with a pure demonic essence. This is Sunnydale’s town founder and semi-immortal mayor Richard Wilkins the III’s plan for how to celebrate the class of 1999’s graduation. However, his new monstrous form lasts around twenty minutes before the slayer lures him into the school and blows him up.
2. Daphne, various
The transformation of the nymph Daphne appears on numerous occasions in visual art and literature, but most famously in book 1 of Ovid’s epic Metamorphoses. The story goes that the god Apollo insults his fellow god Eros (sometimes known as Cupid) for his use of bow and arrows, and Eros reacts by causing him to fall in love with Daphne, who is in turn filled with disgust for her pursuer. On asking her father, the river god Peneus, for assistance, she is turned into a laurel tree.
3. Ginger, Ginger Snaps
The main character in John Fawcett’s cult Canadian horror, the death-obsessed teenager Ginger starts her period which attracts the attention of a mythical beast. Her subsequent physical and mental changes into a werewolf-like beast with a taste for humans and a new sexual appetite is a metaphor for puberty and a symbol for the perception of teenage female sexuality as simultaneously attractive and monstrous.
4. Most of Odysseus’ ship mates, The Odyssey
In Book 10 of Homer’s Odyssey, the hero and his crew meet the witch Circe, who has a habit of turning unwelcome visitors to her island into beasts. She changes most of the crew into pigs (with the exception of Eurolychus, who refuses her magic wine), agreeing to free them from the change when Odysseus threatens to kill her.
5. Orlando, Orlando
Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel describes the life of an immortal and un-ageing poet nobleman who turns into a woman. Orlando’s life begins as a page in the court of Elizabeth I, and the story ends in the contemporary period with Orlando publishing the novel she’s been working on for centuries. The novel was inspired by the life of Woolf’s lover Vita Sackville-West and is regarded as a feminist classic.
6. The Hulk, various
Bruce Banner’s big green alter ego The Hulk, created by Marvel grandee Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby first appeared in comics in 1962. Dr Banner is a mild-mannered scientist who is accidentally exposed to gamma rays in the course of an experiment, and becomes the Hulk when he’s under stress. His narrative arc in the Avengers films deals with his attempts to keep the Hulk in check, revealing in the 2012 movie that his secret is that ‘he’s always angry’. This is incredibly cool until you think about it for two seconds and realise it makes no sense.
7. Gregor Samsa, The Metamorphosis
The protagonist of Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella is a travelling salesman who wakes up one morning to find that he has turned into a giant insect. The transformation, which occurs outside the boundary of the text, is a metaphor for alienation and Gregor’s psychological and literal physical separation from his family and friends.
8. The Tiger’s Bride, The Bloody Chamber
The Tiger’s Bride is a short story in Angela Carter’s collection of re-imagined fairy tales, in this instance taking its inspiration from Beauty and the Beast. It is told from the point of view of the young woman who is traded by her negligent father to an anthropomorphised tiger. She grows to love her beast husband, who finally licks off her human skin and allows her to take her true tiger’s form.
9. The Ghost Rider, various
The Ghost Rider is a Marvel anti-hero with a number of guises, but who starts life as a stunt motorcyclist named Johnny Blaze. Johnny makes a deal with a demon who he believes to be Satan in exchange for the life of his father. The deal turns out to not be as it seems and Johnny is now the Ghost Rider, Satan’s emissary and long distance bike-rider. Whoever is the current Ghost Rider has the ability to turn themselves into a burning skeleton with supernatural abilities, and Nicolas Cage’s first transformation into the Ghost Rider in the 2007 film is the single worst recorded case of Oscar robbery.
10. Dr Jekyll, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
This example of total transformation of character from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella is so well-known that ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ has strayed into the common lexicon to mean a person whose personality and moral centre appears to change violently from one situation to the next. At first the eponymous Henry Jekyll becomes his evil alter ego Edward Hyde through use of a serum, but he later finds that he is transforming involuntarily in his sleep. When he finds he is unable to control Hyde’s worst excesses, he dies by suicide.
About A Change Is Gonna Come
Featuring eight established writers and introducing four exciting new voices, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. The authors each interpreted the theme of change in their own unique and compelling voice.
Responding to a call for work from unpublished and unagented writers, Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy submitted stories, which were chosen from over a hundred submissions. Stripes also invited aspiring BAME editors to apply to shadow the book’s editor. As a result, twenty-two year old Aa’Ishah Hawton worked closely with Editorial Director, Ruth Bennett, throughout the editorial process.
A Change Is Gonna Come includes a variety of genres from historical to contemporary to magical realism to dystopia, and much of the content feels particularly timely in the face of recent world events. The anthology opens with Musa Okwonga’s poetic offering ‘The Elders on the Wall’, a rallying call for young people to take charge of the future, no matter what opportunities seem closed to them. The urgency of this message is enforced by stories from Patrice Lawrence and Irfan Master in which visions of the future take on a darkly dystopian vein. In ‘Fortune Favours the Bold’, Yasmin Rahman explores the impact of terror attacks on the British Muslim community, particularly young hijab-wearing women, meanwhile fraught friendships in the wake of political disagreement are examined in Nikesh Shukla’s ‘We Who?’. In ‘A Refuge’ Ayisha Malik reflects on friendship and complicated family dynamics amidst charitable aid at a refugee camp. Catherine Johnson brings hidden figures to the forefront, looking at prejudice faced by real-life historical character William Darby (b. 1811) who became one of the country’s top circus showmen.
Elsewhere, contributors address themes and issues often dealt with by young people entering adulthood. Aisha Bushby delves into the intersection of race and mental health in her story ‘Marionette Girl’, which highlights living with OCD and anxiety. Tanya Byrne’s ‘Hackney Moon’ views same-sex relationships through an own voices lens, resulting in a realistic portrayal of teen experiences as a girl comes to terms with losing her first love when she finds unexpected happiness elsewhere. Common themes of identity, roots and personal history in the face of change are examined in both Inua Ellams’s poem reflecting on memories of a homeland left behind, and Mary Bello’s story ‘Dear Asha’, whose central character undertakes a pilgrimage to visit her ancestral home after the loss of a parent. A fantastical transformation takes place in Phoebe Roy’s ‘Iridescent Adolescent’, which is imbued with the metaphor and magical realism so often used in literature to examine the human condition.
About Phoebe Roy
Phoebe Roy is part Indian and part Jewish, and is from north London. She has a first-class degree and master’s in Archaeology and Ancient History. She has worked as an editor, tutor, production editor, ghost writer and features writer.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour stops below and tweet your thoughts using #ChangeBook!