"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Children's Magic

A couple announcements before getting into today's topic.

First, EOLYN now has a page on Facebook. There's a link on this blog -- scroll down the column on your right, and you'll find it. If you haven't already, please take a moment to "Like" the page, and spread the word about EOLYN by suggesting it to your friends. This will be my primary tool for making announcements about readings and other upcoming events for the novel, although -- for those of you who have yet to succumb to Facebook fever -- you can rest assured this information will also be posted on the blog.

On a somewhat related topic -- just because it's also about marketing -- this week classes start at Avila University, where I teach biology, ecology and related subjects. I'll be telling my new and returning students about the novel, so hopefully the blog will get some new visitors. For that reason, if you're a regular, you might see some repetition here. For example, I'll be reposting the first three chapters of the novel over the next few weeks.

So much for announcements. Let's talk about Children's Magic!

About a week ago, we went to see the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast at Starlight Theater, a lovely outdoor venue in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a warm and clear night, with a beautiful sunset, followed by a half moon illuminating the dark sky. The theater was packed with children, mostly little girls, all decked out in their princess outfits. It reminded me of how I, too, dreamed of being a princess when I was a little girl. In fact, my paternal grandfather's nickname for me was "meine kleine Prinzessin", German for "my little princess". And he put a lot of energy into reinforcing that particular fantasy of mine. Of course, one day I grew up, and started reading my history, and found out that being a real princess wasn't always what it was cut out to be. In fact, most often it was downright nightmarish. That particular disillusion probably ranked right up there with learning the truth about Santa Claus.

But children need their fantasies, and we cultivate them and indulge them, and value them in a way that only adults who have lived them, and lost them, can do. In the world of Moisehen, the capacity of children to fantasize is considered a form of magic. Just like Primitive Magic (which I talked about in my June 7 post), Children's Magic is thought to be innate.

In an early draft of the novel, Eolyn's mother Kaie teaches her that Children's Magic

"is the magic of play and discovery. It is called Children's Magic because all children who are well kept express this magic. But a strong maga knows how to practice Children's Magic, no matter what her age. It is the magic that keeps us fresh and imaginative."

The final draft of EOLYN contains no explicit discussion of Children's Magic, though it is mentioned in a scene about a quarter of the way through the book, when Ghemena prepares a sacred fire as part of Eolyn's initiation into High Magic. For kindling, she uses "less traditional twigs of Linden, the protector of Children's Magic". But the friendship that grows between Eolyn and Akmael in the South Woods is infused with Children's Magic, and all the spirit of imagination, adventure and affection that comes with it.

I feel compelled to point out that a child's imagination -- and therefore, Children's Magic -- is not always a bright and airy thing. One of my favorite movies is Pan's Labyrinth, a story about a girl, Ofelia, who lived in Spain during an era of fascism. Ofelia lives a rich fantasy life set in a parallel world that -- while it provides an escape from her family's brutal reality -- is just as dark as the "real" world. The timeless popularity of Grimm's Fairy Tales is another testament to the appeal of the darkly fantastical to children the world over. Even Beauty and the Beast, for all the pretty songs and nice costumes with which Disney has dressed it up, is in the end a downright scarey little tale about the potential costs of being a princess.

Today's image is from the movie Pan's Labyrinth, showing Doug Jones as the Faun, and Ivana Baquero as Ofelia.