Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stories are light--

“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning.
Make some light.”
Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

 Illuminated excerpt

Tarek’s brows creased over his emerald eyes. “No, you listen to me, Princess. People who believe in that fairy tale king are simpletons. Mom told those stories when I was little to put me to sleep. But it’s not real! Don’t you understand? It’s not real! There is no wonderful city where everyone lives in harmony.” He waved his hands around while mocking in a sing-song voice, “blah, blah, blah. Just fairy tales.”

Doubt crept into Princess's resolve. “Tarek, if it’s not real, then why is that messenger, and other ‘simpletons’ as you call them, willing to be put to death rather than serve Darnel? Give me a good reason, and I’ll not argue with you anymore.”

He took a step back as if she’d slapped his face, but didn’t answer.

There's a reason stories are important. And a reason we love them so much. 

I love being swept away from the mundane. When I open a book and become so invested in the character that I'm carried away from my life, house work, or going to bed. That's magic.

True storyteller magic.

This doesn't happen often, but when it does... ahh... bliss.

Great stories lift us out of our complicated lives.
But they do even more.

Stories touch us on an emotional level, sometimes helping us to see things in a different way. They elate us. Make us laugh and even cry.

I want to write such stories. 

So when my husbands coworker had him call me so that she could say that she'd been up late the night before reading my story, I was snoopy dancing.

Yes, I not only did a fist-pump, I was elated to hear that I'd achieved a bit of that magic myself.

And when I read reviews that say they couldn't put the book down, that they were carried away by Illuminated... well, yep, there's a bit of dancing and hopping about the office. Not because I think I'm so great, but because my story did exactly what I'd hoped. It did for others what so many wonderful stories have done for me.

Like fairy dust, it carried someone away from their mundane and gave them something to think about.

Isn't that why we love stories so much?

I enjoy a book that lifts me up, takes me somewhere new, offers an adventure, provides a little hope, and a sense of wonderment. And this is what I always hope to write for others.

I also like to receive some take-away value in a story. Something I can slip in my pocket and chew on later. Something about life, myself, or the people I encounter.

Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux, does this in her writing. Along the story, she leaves little nuggets for the reader to pick up. If they want to.

As I wrote Illuminated, I wanted a story that would challenge the reader to find their own path, their own life journey. To encourage them in believing that they also have an important role to play in the big scheme of life. Everyone does. From the small, moody Okbold, to the big hulking warriors. That's what Tolkien tried to show in his books about the small, unnoticeable hobbits. That even the smallest have an important role to play.

The books are written with young people in mind. Those in their teens or early 20s trying to find their place in life. But I think, even people in their 30s and 40s sometimes get off track. If you love fantasy with a purpose, books such as LOTR, Narnia, or (something else) that have you chuckling one moment, and your heart pounding the next, then I think you'll like Illuminated, as well.

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