mysterious island

March 23, 2020

The little island seemed to float on the dark lake-waters. Trees grew on it, and a little hill rose in the middle of it. It was a mysterious island, lonely and beautiful. All the children stood and gazed at it, loving it and longing to go to it. It looked so secret – almost magic.

“Well,” said Jack at last. “What do you think? Shall we run away, and live on the secret island?”

“Yes!” whispered all the children.

“Let’s!”

Enid Blyton
The Secret Island

At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern & left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations & capabilities impossible to any less magical & quiet hour.

H.P. Lovecraft
letter to Lillian D. Clark, 1st September 1924

My whole life has been spent trying to bring together ‘real life’ and the world of fantasy, in particular by finding new and interesting ways of expressing a sense of the magical in my writing. Ever since I was five years old, hunting down fairies in the back alley behind my parents’ house, a sense of more to life than meets the eye has been part of who I am. When I was a child, life was one big fairy tale. That was how I felt. But how to get into that fairy tale? How to make that fairy tale my life, and make it real and be a part of it?

It was through stories that I found the way. I couldn’t write when I was five years old, but I could make up stories and that was what I did, standing at the garden fence, telling them out loud to the big children in the house next door, lined up on their side of the fence asking, ‘What happened next?’ But those stories, made up off the top of my head, were ephemeral. They were fly-by-nights, whereas words on paper had a strange new durability which I discovered when I learnt to write. Describing Winnie the Pooh hunting honey made me part of the story. Adventuring with the Famous Five turned them into a Famous Six. I made those things my own, and I made them real – and simply by writing about them.

Pauline Fisk
Wild Edric (and me)

literally spell-binding

February 11, 2020

I’ve loved fairy tales, folklore, and myth since I was a child, and then studied myth and folklore at university — so when I discovered fantasy (an entire genre full of fiction and art rooted in ancient, magical stories!) I knew I’d found my aesthetic home: the field I wanted to work in, and the professional community I wanted to be a part of.

As with myths and folk tales, a good fantasy novel is literally spell-binding, using language to conjure up whole new worlds, or to invest our own modern world with magic. To me, the particular pleasure of good fantasy comes from its unbroken link to the world’s oldest stories, expressed through an author’s skilful manipulation of mythic archetypes, story patterns, and symbols. And those are powerful things.

Terri Windling
Interview with ActuSF

it seemed like magic

February 11, 2020

N K Jemisin’s writing process often begins with dreams: imagery vivid enough to hang on into wakefulness. She does not so much mine them for insight as treat them as portals to hidden worlds. Her tendency is to interrogate what she sees with if/then questions, until her field of vision widens enough for her to glimpse a landscape that can hold a narrative. The inspiration for her début novel, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” (2010), was a dream vision of two gods. One had dark-as-night hair that contained a starry cosmos of infinite depth; the other, in a child’s body, manipulated planets like toys. From these images, Jemisin spun out a four-hundred-page story about an empire that enslaves its deities. The book established her as a prominent new voice…

… Jemisin finished “The Fifth Season.” The story defied easy literary categorization. It was sweeping but intimate, multilayered but simply told. It could be read as an environmental parable, or as a study of repression, or as a meditation on race, or as a mother’s post-apocalyptic quest. Jemisin wove in magical elements, but she systematized them so thoroughly that they felt like scientific principles — laws of an alternative nature. She evoked advanced technology, but made it so esoteric that it seemed like magic. (Most of her imagined machines were made of crystal. At some point, the inhabitants of the Stillness eschewed metallurgy; the word “rust” even became an expletive.)

Raffi Khatchadourian
N. K. Jemisin’s Dream Worlds

Witches

December 21, 2019

Witches see to things best sorted by magic: sorrows of the heart, troubles of the mind, regrets of the flesh…

Ami McKay
The Witches of New York

The Power of the Witch

November 10, 2019

otherworldly

October 27, 2019

Religion by definition has a mysticism to it. No matter what creed or denomination or belief system, it all has to do with the human and supernatural exchange. There’s something otherworldly about it, as with witchcraft, so the two are necessarily linked in my mind. I think people balk at the idea that a belief system like Christianity has anything to do with mysticism or magic, but in my mind it absolutely does. Witchcraft has historically been viewed as the wrong side of the coin, something sinister and dark, but the two work in tandem, and that’s always intrigued me.

Tamara Jobe
Interview with H/M

Meaning

September 12, 2019

Religion, mysticism and magic all spring from the same basic ‘feeling’ about the universe: a sudden feeling of meaning, which human beings sometimes ‘pick up’ accidentally, as your radio might pick up some unknown station. Poets feel that we are cut off from meaning by a thick, lead wall, and that sometimes for no reason we can understand the wall seems to vanish and we are suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of the infinite interestingness of things.

Colin Wilson
The Occult

Magic

September 7, 2019

Magic lies in between things, between the day and the night, between yellow and blue, between any two things.

Charles de Lint
The Onion Girl