Island Life, Word Birds & Process
Received wisdom has it we ought to write about what we know. Perhaps. Then again, I know a lot about shoes & cake but other than the odd aside, have no desire to write stories about either of these things.
I think it’s less about writing what we know & more about writing the kind of stories we want to read. The books I’m drawn to are the ones in which enchantment glances off the shoulder of reality; where authentic moments of wonder can make me believe in the possibility of magic. I’m not talking about the kind that comes wearing a pointy hat or casting a spell. Real magic isn’t only in the Mystery, it’s in the everyday, in the small things we often miss because we’re too busy to notice. It’s in relationships & families, in joy, sadness & silence. Magic keeps secrets, it’s old & wise & if we want it we have to listen for it. If we need it, it will hear us.
Towards the end of Ghostbird, my central character, Cadi Hopkins, listens hard. She has little choice. Unless she trusts, the past can’t be forgiven or healed. She’s young & inexperienced but she’s brave & the granddaughter of a witchwoman.
When a girl of fourteen has longed for something for most of her life, when the sense of it clings like dust to the edge of every waking thought, it’s possible old magic will hear her.
Who knows what’s real? I only ever ask my reader to believe in the possibility that a suspension of her disbelief might be worth the gamble. And when I pick up a book in which the author suggests magic might be afoot, I approach it in the same way.
Toni Morrison said it most elegantly.
Happy reading, wherever the magic takes you.