I’m thrilled once again to join in the 2015 Magic Realism blog hop, this time channeling The Lovin’ Spoonful! From July 29th – 31st, 20+ blogs will be posting about magic realism – what happens when you add “fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction.” Click on the button below to visit them – new posts will be added over three days, so come back to read more.
Why we feel compelled to add fantasy and magic to the worlds we create is a complex question. Perhaps our rational, scientific society is lacking something? I wrote earlier that we like magic in our stories because it appeals to our imagination, but another part of the appeal may be that magic helps us face reality.
It’s a commonly held belief that everyone has the capacity to be evil. Magic realism actually belies this. As a journalism instructor, I can tell you the horrible events covered in the news are not the norm. They’re covered because they’re unusual and so frequently hard to fathom. We are not naturally monsters, so we invent monsters to safely explore those dark parts of our history, society, or psyche that we turn away from in the bright light of day.
Magic realism helps us focus on the writing as well. If I’m writing about make-believe, obviously I’m telling a story even if it takes place in real-life. But if the story part isn’t true, then is the real-life part true? Magic realism throws real-life into question for closer examination, but what does real life do to magic?
The simple answer is one substitutes for another. Parapsychology takes the place of arcane powers. The mind-reader becomes the telepath. But the differences are deeper. Magic is an unknown, without explanation and defiance of established rules. Attitudes and perceptions differ and they’re not just confined to the odd spell or incident.
For the magic to be real, the world it occupies must be real, not just window dressing to highlight differences. Does the witch worry about meeting FDA regulations for her potions and poultices or does she look for a handy bog to hide the inspector? If you’re cashing in your fairy gold, how do you explain your claim to the state treasurer’s office?
My leprechauns have more to worry about than gold in Fighting Mad, due out in December. Ever hear about how the King of the Fairies tricked the Queen into falling in love with a donkey? Well now, she wants revenge, the lining up of armies kind of revenge! Still, in a world celebrating 800 years of the Magna Carta establishing the of rule of law, would you just march into battle when ordered to do so? Yeah, no. Not even if the rulers in question cause rivers to jump their banks, seasons to change, and tornadoes to blow through town. It’s not magic, just global warming. Really!