Two posts in as many days? Unheard of! But I wanted to share the wonderful experience I had while researching agents to query--yes 'wonderful' and 'query' in the same sentence (I've moved on from feeling queasy about it, so it's a good thing). In my research, I ran across Russell Galen (of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency) and learned the first book he'd ever sold as an agent was The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This was the book of my childhood.
It's been nearly 20 years since last I read it, but I still have two copies on my bookshelf--the original tattered and worn paperback, a gift from my 6th grade teacher, which I read eight times in a row, and a barely touched hardback I keep around in case the other one disintegrates before I have a chance to read it again.
Hearing that Russell Galen had been involved in creating that book made me love him instantly. More importantly, I suddenly remembered why I'm a writer: Magic!
It was the magic of words and stories that made me start reading books like Charlotte's Web (as soon as I'd covered the basics of See Spot Run, of course) and keep reading everything I could find in my elementary school library and then on my mother's bookshelves at home. But it wasn't until I picked up Mists of Avalon that I truly believed in magic.
It's a retelling of the King Arthur story from the point of view the women, and the main character is Morgaine (aka Morgan Le Fay). I'd never read any Arthur stories, so I had no preconceptions. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon came to life for me as no other book before quite had. The characters were all so real and terribly sad, and in those pages I could feel the lost Atlantis described by Igraine, the heart-pounding exhilaration of the Wild Hunt and hear the bells of Glastonbury Isle before they magically vanished in the enshrouding mists of Avalon, another, older and richer world existing in parallel to this one but drifting apart from us, like the land of Fairy, and taking magic with it. At the end of that book, I believed. I knew the world had once been full of real magic, seers and magicians, and that now all we have is the faintest echo of what was.
When an author makes us believe so deeply in their world, if only for a short time, that's real magic. And that's why I wanted to become an author, to create amazing and affecting worlds and share those with others so they might believe in them too, if only for a while.
Thank you Marion Zimmer Bradley and Russell Galen. Thank you especially for reminding me, weary from years of writerly toil and bogged down in the midst of queries, what it's all about. And thank you for rekindling that warmth of belief in my heart, for bringing back the magic.
It's Monday in Australia (sadly we get them before most other countries) and each one seems to last a week, especially since becoming a mum. Today's week-long Monday was spent in the juror's waiting room at the courthouse. Even as insanely busy as I am, I'd prepared myself to serve (willing to give up the week but a longer trial I'd need to reconsider, as I am INSANELY busy). Of course, I never got called because the defendant pleaded and the lot of us were sent home (with huge sighs of relief from most). But I'd been ready and mostly willing!
I wanted to fulfil my civic duty and all that, but there's also the experience of it. Us writers are all about experience. It fuels writing. The waiting room alone was a marvellous source of inspiration, such as the cool Asian chic with short hair, high boots and tight snakeskin dress, which made me wonder if she normally looked that tough or had picked the outfit to avoid being chosen as a juror (a thought I'd entertained myself as I looked at my collection of temporary tattoos while thinking about all the work I'd need to catch up on at work). There was the guy in dark glasses, baseball cap and goatee trying his best to look like a terrorist (too obvious, dude) and the other guy in baseball cap and dark glasses sitting next to me and watching a Dexter marathon on his laptop. Please.
There was the college kid (who looked way too clueless and who I'd not want on my jury) and the older businessman in full suit and tie, clearly stating he needed to be somewhere else, and the middle aged business man (I could tell despite the lack of suit) who was all prepared and gung ho for the occasion, wearing his best 'casual' outfit and leather carry bag (it looked far too new for him to have an opportunity to wear it much).
And me? I was clearly going to be jury foreman. The woman who tried to cut in line? "To the back of the queue," I told her, and I had a quick rebuttal to her weak arguments. The older lady next to me seemed relieved that someone had stood up for what was right and true, justice and all that (the older lady was the perfect juror by the way, with a reliable face and an underlying edge of toughness, like she'd come straight out of a courtroom drama).
All for the best, I suppose. I would have made a terrible juror. I'm too weird.
I've been writing all my life (even won a trophy in first grade) but it got shoved to the back of the closet (writing as a priority as well as my trophy) because I was too "levelheaded" for that nonsense. Now, twenty years later, I've learned a flat head isn't all it's cracked up to be. Writing is the one thing I felt I had to do, and I always told myself I'd write a book someday. Well, it IS someday.