Where’s the magic? That wasn’t a question I consciously asked myself as a child, but I was seeking it just the same. It wasn’t a desire to cast spells, but to find a magical world, a place to escape fears. In the days long before Harry Potter and other YA fiction the child that I was wanted to escape forever and that required for magic to be real.
So, I clung to Santa’s existence until a late age, lying awake late into the night wanting some sign he existed. Anything. It wouldn’t be him coming down the chimney (we didn’t have one), so I pinned my hopes on hearing his sleigh landing on the roof.
The noises on the roof never came, of course.
In those days the only television fantasy programming was the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz with its scary witch and flying monkeys. I dearly loved the movie, yet a place close to my heart silently urged Dorothy to not return home. If she’d remain with Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion then maybe, just maybe, there was hope for me.
I knew—as much as a child can know—there was no fantastic, magical refuge waiting for me on this earth.
It wasn’t in any of the many schools I attended. It wasn’t in any of the hiding places I’d found. It wasn’t even at the New York State World’s Fair. Magical that was, especially to a child, but it wasn’t a home.
There were half steps to my magical savior, temporary escapes that hinted at hope. In the days before I discovered reading, that which came closest was retreating into my imagination and pretending. I didn’t understand its importance then, but I’d lose myself for hours there.
My love affair with fantasy fiction began when I read The Hobbit and LOTR, but I still didn’t understand the truth. Carving that truth commenced when I became serious about writing in the early 2000s. It didn’t happen overnight, of course. It’s in looking back (and looking ahead to Camp NaNo next month) that I see the truth laid out, a map I didn’t realize I was following.
The magic I sought was within.
Was it there all along or did the searching and suffering develop it? I have no idea, but I know Ontyre is as real to me as beautiful Montana outside my window. Ontyre has become more than a refuge, it’s become a place to go to heal scars and construct the blueprint for a better world. Fantasy, for me, is about more than wondrous vistas and strange creatures.
Fantasy is about finding the magic in the real world.
It’s also a place I can share with others. Not everyone has the ability to take themselves there without a bit of aid. The sharing is frightfully scary, like the flying monkeys revisited, but I’m getting there.
Camp NaNoWriMo begins on April 1st, which is also my first anniversary with the fantastic Monthly Writing Challenge (MWC). In that year I’ve drafted two novels, countless short stories, and edited to Pluto and back. The first of April will mark 365 days spent either writing or editing. No days missed.
Last year at Camp NaNo I wrote Trust in the Forgotten, my first Ontyre novel (the sequel was drafted last November). I’m notorious for journeying down the experimental road for NaNo novels and this April is no different. I’m going to push my limits—again. Torment Surfacing will be an Ontyre novel, but with virtually all new characters and will incorporate more diversity issues.
It’s been a difficult road, and maybe the journey helped make it possible, but the greatest discovery was realizing the magic on the pages is also within us all.