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Posts Tagged ‘L. Frank Baum’

The theme of the upcoming issue of the Maryland-based literary magazine, Little Patuxent Review, is “Make Believe.”  I’m delighted to say I’ll have an essay titled, “Fairy Stories, Magic, and Monsters,” in that issue.

Though I need to address Editor Laura’s suggestions, the essay will remain much as I first wrote it. In examining our enduring fascination with fantasy, I was able to use examples from stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, J.K. Rowling, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Neil Gaiman, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Nancy Werlin, March Cost, and Charles Dickens. But I could have written a much longer, more involved essay which included the work of dozens of other authors who’ve given readers magical worlds to inhabit as they turned the pages of a book.

 In my new book, The Greener Forest, I tried to bring a bit of that magic to my readers. Have I succeeded? Only time will tell. But I did receive my first email from someone who bought a copy of The Greener Forest, reprinted here with permission:

“Hello! I bought a copy of your book at the Mythic Faire in Maryland.  I finished it in one sitting–I couldn’t put it down.  Thanks for an enjoyable read; your stories were sincere &  full of wonder and joy. Keep up the great work! — K. Masters”

And thank you, K. Masters, for your note. Writing is a solitary passion and it’s nice to know that someone besides your editor enjoys the fantasy worlds you’ve created. Want your copy of The Greener Forest? Visit: http://coldmoonpress.com/quickbuy.html  And remember, the world is full of mystery & magic. We just need to look, listen, and believe that wondrous things are still possible.

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The chilliness of late autumn has settled over Wood’s Edge. Juncoes & squirrels haunt the birdfeeders. And just a few days ago, I spent another wonderful Thanksgiving with family. This time of year causes me to think about the things I’m most grateful for. The blessings in my life are many, and family and dear friends are near the top of that list. What, you may ask, does that have to do with my writing? More than you may realize!

One of the reoccurring themes in my fiction is family. Sometimes, it’s a traditional family like the parents, children, and mother-in-law in my mermaid story, “Pacific,” due to appear in Shelter of Daylight from Sam’s Dot Publishing and my forthcoming book from Cold Moon Press: The Greener Forest. Sometimes, it’s a family of both blood relations and friends like the Chaloupek Brothers’ Amazing Oddities performers in “Sideshow by the Sea.”  And sometimes, it’s a patchwork family the protagonist builds through the course of a story.

Whether in fiction or real life, most people need security, a sense of belonging, and love. In “Blood of the Swan,” (another story set to appear in The Greener Forest) the main character, Jorund, is a member of a family and a village community. Yet while on his quest for a healer, Jorund finds he’s ready for a different kind of belonging and love. In my science-fiction adventure, “Assassins,” Flynn has abandoned the security of his mother and the family business. When he finally finds someone he wants to love and protect, he struggles to return home.

Home and all that word represents – that’s the key. Whether it’s Frank Baum’s Dorothy building a family of a scarecrow, tin man, lion, and wizard who still longs for Auntie Em and the farm, or Tolkien’s Frodo building a Fellowship who still longs for The Shire – the characters of a story can teach us about family, friendship, and that there’s no place like home.

And so, this November & December, I wish you a holiday season filled with family, whether traditional, non-traditional, or a combination of the two. May you feel secure and loved, and may you take a few minutes away from the football games and dinner table to read a good story or two.

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Time travel is not only possible, but it occurs thousands of times every day! You see, it happens when a reader suspends their disbelief and enters the world of a story that occurs in the past, the future, or in another world.

I just watched The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian today. The film reminded me of the book of the same name, one of seven that take place in the land of Narnia. Rather than the wardrobe from Book I, an underground train station becomes the portal from England to another place and time for Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy in Book II. Only a year has past in England since the four siblings returned from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’s adventures, but in Narnia, hundreds of years have slipped by.

 Jubilant to return to Narnia, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy soon discover the time discrepancy and the troubles disrupting the peaceful world they left behind. After many days spent traveling through Narnia and fighting battles beside talking beasts, dwarfs, mobile trees, minotaurs, centaurs, giants, and such – the tales ends with the four children stepping through a doorway of branches to find themselves back in the English train station. And oddly, only a few minutes have passed since they departed. Beloved author, C.S. Lewis, presents different portals in his Narnia books, but the variance in the passage of time is a common thread.

Portals are an oft-used time travel device (in addition to being quite handy for zipping characters from one world to another). Andre’ Norton used a portal to bring her original hero to Witch World. Witch World initially seems to be a place set in the past, but the intrusion of machines in the storyline makes the reader wonder if perhaps it’s a place in the future.

L. Frank Baum utilized a whirling tornado as a portal device to deliver Dorothy to Oz. After days and days of adventures, Dorothy returns to Kansas only a few minutes after she departed. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is another example of a portal transporting the hero from her world to another. A rabbit’s hole serves the function of portal for Lewis Carroll’s book. And again, only a few minutes have passed in the “real” world when Alice returns home from her time-consuming wanderings.

Like many writers before me and some writers who craft stories today, I like to transport readers into the past, the future, or to a different time in a world that I’ve built. Most often, the only portal I use is the turning of a page. The page that carries a reader from their work-a-day world to places where singing opossums or mermaids or dragons or ghosts or zombies or faeries or alien species live their lives to the tick of a different clock. So pick up a book or download a story, and travel through time!

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