Month: September 2017

Flow as a Doorway to Magic

Flow as a Doorway to Magic

Harlequin’s Riddle is not your typical fantasy. There’s actually not a droplet of magic in it. Mina, the central character, doesn’t learn magic. There is no speaking of spells, hand waving or use of wands anywhere in any of the books.  There are some fantastic books out there that use this sort of overt magic. But I went in a different direction. What interests me is thinking about what magic already exists in the world. We forget how incredible life is, taking for granted all the wondrous things that happen every day. This is especially true for people. Their minds are complex, their lives are fascinating and their achievements can be staggering.

I’m particularly interested in creativity, and how that shapes people. Or, as becomes evident in my book, how people use their creative abilities to shape the world. Art, in whatever form, can change the way we think about things. It can take us out of the moment, transporting us so completely that we forget who we are. It can help us to empathise and connect with others, or heal long-held hurts.

About Flow

In my explorations in creativity over the years I’ve noticed a recurring theme, which is that when people do their creative practice, whatever that might be, they go into a different state, or mindset. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychology professor, calls this state ‘flow’. In this state creators become completely absorbed in whatever they are doing. The requirements of the real world (food, ego etc.) fall away in place of a sense of fulfilment. This state can be very productive. Csiszentmihalyi also says the “whole being is involved”.

Flow and Writing

Many writers have had the experience of working on a piece, and having some sort of inexplicable or unusual experience, such as a character ‘coming to life’ and taking control of the story. Or writing about a place they’ve never been to, only to discover when they get there or see photos of it that they’ve described things with an uncanny accuracy. This is what fascinates me about flow – what if it is an opportunity to tap into a different mental state that links you in some way to something bigger than yourself? This was an idea I wanted to play with in my book.

Flow in Tarya

In Harlequin’s Riddle I take this idea of flow as a starting point to the fantastical elements of the story. Rather than a doorway to a different mental state, creativity becomes a literal doorway – to a place called Tarya. It is a place that sits beside the real world. There are spiritual aspects to Tarya, but it is not just a separate realm, like heaven. Events that happen in Tarya can have an effect on the real world. Mina, the central character of the book, discovers she is able to reach Tarya when she tells stories. But more importantly, she is able to bring aspects of her stories into being for her audience.

Writers are endlessly fascinated by the writing process. Sometimes it can definitely feel like it is magic. Having a heroine who can do interesting things with her stories is so much fun as a writer. I’d like to think there’s a little bit of me in Mina – or a little bit of Mina in me. But she may have other ideas…

If you’d like to learn more about Mina’s abilities, sign up to my email list (see the bottom of the page) and I’ll send you a free short story that tells you Mina’s back story.

 

 

An Interview with Sophie Masson

An Interview with Sophie Masson

I’m very excited that today’s post is an interview with prolific award-winning author and publisher, Sophie Masson. I plan to do one interview a month with an author that I believe brings magic into the world with their writing. I can think of no better place to begin than with Sophie, who has a fascination with fairytales and myths and has written many truly magical books. Her stories have enchanted readers of all ages across a range of genres. She will be appearing at the Historical Novel Society of Australasia Conference this weekend, for which she is the conference patron. This will be an exciting weekend of workshops, talks and panels focused on historical fiction (I’ll do a wrap up of the conference next week.) Sophie’s generous endorsement of Harlequin’s Riddle has encouraged readers to pick up my book, for which I am enormously grateful.

You can find out more about Sophie in her own words on her website and blog or on Facebook or Twitter.

About Sophie

Born in Indonesia to French parents and brought up in Australia and France, Sophie Masson is the award-winning, internationally-published author of over 60 books, for children, young adults and adults. Her latest books include the YA historical thriller, Jack of Spades, two picture books, Two Rainbows, illustrated by Michael McMahon, and Once Upon An ABC, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen, and the adult paranormal thriller duology, Trinity: The Koldun Code and Trinity: The False Prince, set in modern Russia.

Which writer or writers opened your eyes to the magic of storytelling and why?

Glad you asked for writers in the plural 😊 So many of these opened my eyes to storytelling magic when I was a child: the great tellers of fairy tales, for instance, Grimm, Perrault, Andersen, Madame Leprince de Beaumont(of Beauty and the Beast fame), the anonymous tellers of the Arabian nights…And then, writers ranging from CS Lewis to Tove Jannsson, Nicholas Stuart Gray to Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas to the Countess de Segur, Herge(of Tintin fame!) and Goscinny and Uderzo(of Asterix fame!); Alan Garner, Paul Berna, Enid Blyton, Patricia Wrightson..and many many many more! On my blog I’ve written about five of my favourite childhood books—the list is huge but I just selected these five and wrote about why I loved them: in all of them, storytelling is a huge ingredient, as is magic and adventure.

Why do you think people need stories in their lives?

Because otherwise they wither inside…I think it’s an essential factor in making us human. Without stories, not only is it hard to make sense of the world, but also of ourselves. It really annoys me when people say things like, ‘Oh, that’s just a story!’ There is no just a story. Of course not all stories are equal and some can be used to bad ends as well—but they are powerful things, never to be underestimated.

What is your greatest magical power as a writer?

Being able somehow to make creatures of paper and ink feel like creatures of flesh and blood: to make strong, vivid characters in a believable world, even when it’s fantasy…I feel so absolutely lucky that I was given this gift…so grateful I can do what I was born to do and help to weave my little corner of the world’s stories.

Which mythic archetype or magical character most resonates with you and why?

I am fascinated by shapeshifters… I am also really interested in ‘halflings’—changelings, people in between worlds, who sometimes don’t fit in and sometimes do—This fascination could have something to do with the fact that as a child growing up in two worlds—a French speaking one at home and an English speaking one at school—I felt a bit like a changeling or a shapeshifter I guess 😊

What themes or ideas do you find keep arising in your writing?

Love, betrayal, courage, friendship, creativity…and dangerous choices. Always dangerous choices!