Why I Include
In my Fantasy
Spring’s new buds will fall to Autumn
Vibrant life to gasping breath
Summer merely warm distraction
Ere Winter’s chill grips all in death
Every life is but a shadow
Once it’s born, it fades away
Hope but lingers in dusk’s dim glow
As the Night consumes the Day.
Some of the earliest stories I can remember as a child were Aesop’s Fables. I loved anything animals. When I was ten, my dad gifted me The Chronicles of Narnia. The idea of a magical wardrobe that took you to a land of talking animals captured my imagination. Though I eventually went on to enjoy stories in many genres, I never really grew out of my love of talking animals, magic, and portals to faraway lands. Then a dream inspired me to write Hidden Knight: A Novel of a Bear—a story of a young man portal to another world of medieval bearfolk, telepathic wolves, and evil serpentine creatures. It might sound like a children’s story and undoubtedly has elements influenced by my childhood, but I wrote it for myself. Originally, I did not plan to publish this book, but about a third way through the novel; I reached the decision to share this story I was coming to love with others who would enjoy the same.
I had only intended to write 3 posts on why I include magic in my fantasy novels. In them I addressed the three types of magic found in my book Hidden Knight: A Novel of a Bear. There is the supernatural magic, nature magic, and the ancient sciences. But I wanted to write one more post about the magic in my current novel in progress, Daydream, because the magic in this story has a different purpose.
Daydream is the story of an exhausted homeschool mom, Michelle, and her imaginative 9-year-old daughter, Sammie. Michelle admonishes Sammie to get her head out of the clouds and focus on more practical pursuits. She wants to save her daughter from the disappointment of failure and unfulfilled dreams. The story opens:
Once, when I was young, I believed the world was as big as my imagination. As I matured, I cast aside that belief. Real life is difficult, and there is no place for fantasy. If only, I could get that idea through my daughter’s head before she has to find out the hard way—the way I had.
Michelle’s 5-year-old son, JJ, is missing his favorite stuffed dog. While Michelle is looking for it, she discovers Sammie writing in an old journal. It turns out to be one of Michelle’s old drafts of her fantasy series that she had tucked away in her closet, forgotten in the dust along with her dreams of becoming a published author. Shortly after Michelle snatches a notebook from Sammie and chides her for living in a daydream, Sammie disappears, and Michelle is transported to Kalpania, the world of her novels. From there we follow Michelle on an incredible journal that challenges Michelle’s ideals.
Ironic, I can’t help but think. Here I was scolding Sammie for living in a daydream, and now I’m trapped in a make-believe world of my own creation. Only it’s more rich and vivid than I ever imagined. If possible, the colors are brighter and the shadows starker than the real world.
The Magic of Kalpania represents the childlike hope, imagination, and belief of the impossible.
Sammie flopped onto her back and made a sand angel, soiling her blue sundress. The shaggy dog ran in circles around her barking. Sammie sat up, wet sand plastered all over her skin and clothes. She brushed sandy strands of hair from her face. “No, I don’t think so,” she told the shaggy dog as he cocked his head to one side. “Mama wouldn’t like it here at all. She wouldn’t even hear the magic in the sea shells.”
And Kalpania’s very existence challenges Michelle’s lack of faith.
Prayer has become little more than a habit formed in my youth. Strange that the first sincere prayer I’ve had in years is in a world of make-believe when for so long my faith has been little more than pretend.
Michelle’s desperate prayers come from the realization that—fantasy or not—the dangers of this world are real. A strange shadow illness has spread across the land, seeded by the Shadow Witch that now seeks Sammie. Michelle’s only chance of saving her daughter is to save the fantasy world she had abandoned. Sir Lightlee warns:
“The Shadow Witch is seeding despair among the people. Rumors and lies cleverly whispered into the ears of the weak spirited. Picked up and carried by others until it spreads like a brushfire.”
The Shadow Witch and the shadow illness represent the loss of hope and innocence of childlike imagination. You see, Michelle had only got it half right. She wanted her daughter to focus on hard work, but discounted imagination as a waste of time.
I walk toward the door, but a question from something Sir Lightlee said earlier gives me pause. “Why especially Fisherman’s Haven and Oodlesville? What makes them more susceptible?”
Sir Lightlee faces me. “One is without work and the other without imagination. These two give purpose and vision. Without them breeds despair.”
My books are for the young at heart. Daydream is inspired by youthful imagination of my own children. Though it’s an adult fantasy, I’m writing it for them as much as for myself. While I might occasionally enjoy a darker fantasy, in a world already filled with so much hatred, I longed for books that took me back to my childhood. That doesn’t mean my novels are absent of sorrow, violence, or tragedy; but I want my stories to have a message of hope. Far from being escapism from the “real world,” I believe hopeful stories help us find the positive even in tragedies. The Bible doesn’t sugar coat evil. Just read the book of Judges. It records the absolute depravity brought about when mankind chooses to forsake God and do what is “right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Yet, God is merciful and sent multiple deliverers. I firmly believe the best stories and the most realistic stories are the ones with happy endings because that is the story God wrote for us.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.—Revelations 22:17
Though I may not see tomorrow
I can do some good today
Hope is rising in dawn’s dim glow
Darkest Night can’t hold back Day.