Tag Archives: Magic

Magic = Responsibility

When we hear the word ‘magic’ in our mundane world, we always imagine something pleasing, like a magic show, or our massage therapist’s magic hands, or a fantasy book we have read recently. But in Fantasyland, magic has a different connotation. In fantasy stories, magic is a gift and a responsibility.

AlmostAdep180x270JIn my novel Almost Adept, the protagonist, young magician Eriale often encounters situations where her magic is the best choice to deal with a problem. And she can’t shirk that responsibility, no matter how much she might want to.

Once, en route to visit her relatives, she came upon a burning village. Of course, her first action was to extinguish the fire with her magic. After that, she searched for the source of the fire and found it too—a five-year-old boy, gifted with fire magic but untrained. She didn’t want to play a babysitter to a grubby, sulky urchin, didn’t want to leave the village in a hurry, without rest or food, but she did both. She considered it her responsibility to take care of the fledging mage, to whisk him out of peril’s way. If she didn’t, the angry villages might’ve killed the kid in retaliation, even though his fire that had almost burned the village was unintentional. Eriale was the only one who could help the boy, so she did. She grumbled, of course, but she never hesitated.

Later in the novel, Eriale experienced her first love affair just before she discovered a corrupt mage abusing his magic apprentices. Again, because of her magic, she was the only one who could help them. She knew that confronting the evil and powerful mage was very dangerous but she couldn’t see any other option. Nobody but her could help those kids. She had to try, even though her sweetheart had enemies of his own and he could die without her help. Faced with such a devastating choice—him or the apprentices—she made the only possible decision, even though it tore her heart apart: she left to deal with the monstrous sorcerer and abandoned her beloved. He might find others to help him…or not, but the apprentices had no advocate except her. Her magical abilities dictated her actions.

Unlike Eriale in her imaginary, quasi-medieval world, Darya, the protagonist of my short story collection Squirrel of Magic lives in modern Canada. Darya is a good witch, and like Eriale, she feels it her responsibility to help people in trouble. Some of those she helps are her friends. Others are strangers. It makes no difference. If her magic can help them, she must get involved, no matter her personal cost. Even if that cost includes the good opinion of her boyfriend or a risk of getting arrested.

Neither of my magical heroines can ignore her magic. It rules their lives, brings unique joys and unique sorrows. Like any power, their magic implies responsibilities: to the people around them as well as to themselves.

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May Magic

For May Magic, we here at the WOTI site are answering the question, “If you could have one magical ability, what would it be?”

So many possibilities, it’s difficult to choose.

Initially, I thought time travel would be fun. Experience history first hand. Change some unfortunate events. But my son informed me I can’t change history, quoting the Destiny Trap. Apparently my twelve year old understands more about time travel than I do. At any rate, given the paradox potential, it seems a futile ability.

Invisibility appealed to me. How handy would it be if I could disappear at will? Avoid annoying people, stay in my PJs all day, scare the pee-diddle out of friends and neighbors. Except if the government found out about it, I’d probably end up having to do some kind of spy work. Sounds exciting, but I really don’t want to know the ins and outs of terrorist cells and the like. I’d lose too much sleep.

But the need for sleep…that gave me the idea for my ideal magical ability. I’d like to be able to freeze time. While everyone else stands still, I could take a cat nap here and there. I’d have time to work out, to clean, to finish my novels, learn a new language, maybe even cure cancer, who knows? Limitless time would mean limitless possibilities.

The great thing about exercises like this is how it can really get the creative juices flowing. I’m taking my frozen time power and writing a short story around it. Stay tuned for more of the WOTI authors’ thoughts on magic, and if it gets your creative juices going, leave a comment and share what your magical power would be!

out_of_the_darkness_300sigAudra

 

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Laws Of The Land

The Healer came about accidentally, and I guess was inspired by character—Vaun, to be precise. I had an image of a primitive Celtic-like warrior leaping off a cliff and I went from there.

Of course he dropped into the fray immediately and of course there was a woman involved because I’m all about the romance. But I quickly stalled, not knowing what kind of book I was writing. Highland historicals were popular, but that sounded like a lot of research for someone with little kids and very little writing time. Plus, my heroine had just started healing the wounds of the men who were fighting so…yeah, I had something else on my hands.

handssm

It sounds like a cheat to just make up a fake world, and yes, I was looking for a shortcut, but I quickly realized it’s not as easy as it seems. For starters, you still need rules that govern the world, similar to our irrefutable physical laws like gravity.

So right away, I was forced to decide whether the heroine heals involuntarily, in which case she can’t control who she heals and therefore neither can I. (What a pain.) Or is it voluntary, in which case she could withhold her power—so why is she valued as a slave and why are they using her to heal themselves in the middle of the opening battle scene?

I settled on making the healing a conscious effort, a skill that it takes practice to hone and govern, and because Athadia is very learned and powerful, she takes vows to make herself stronger. Therefore she is compelled to heal anyone who wishes it—and she can’t heal anyone who refuses. Haha, now I had some plot control.

The vows became very convenient since breaking them weakens the Alvians. And Vaun, being a half-blood with no awareness of his talent was a lot of fun to develop.

The ability to heal is actually the only fantasy element in my story—aside from the ore that also acts on the strength of their gift. But there were still a million and one decisions in terms of geography, culture, level of technology (I chose medieval—historicals are still popular, wink!) and politics.

Fortunately, the one thing I didn’t have to invent from scratch was the romantic conflict. Seems no matter what kind of world humanoids populate, they manage to carry emotional baggage that prevents them from falling in love without a few travails along the way.

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