- Offered three wishes. There is always a catch.
- Someone claiming to be your uncle asks you to retrieve a magical lamp for him. Why can't he get it? Why haven't you heard of this "relative" before?
- You come across a lion, a scarecrow and a tin man on your journey. These are not normal companions. Do not expect an ordinary trip (and if you get the chance to escape it, I would if I were you).
- Offered the chance to dance in a gorgeous pair of the best red shoes you have ever seen. Refuse. The last to accept this chance danced to their death in the things.
- Your fairy godmother tells you there's a time limit on the spells she's used to create things to help you out. Why the time limit? Does it mean she's not fully qualified? Or is she trying to set you up with some regal boy wonder for reasons of her own? (That kind of successful match up can get her promotion).
Whenever I visit new places, as I did today going to High Wycombe to see my ex-Minister being inducted into service here, I take a good look around and write down/memorise details that I think might be useful in my writing.
High Wycombe is not a place I know and it was much bigger than I anticipated but I liked its massive green park, which I think will feature in my writing at some point. I also liked the way its massive park was made up - lots of green areas, a river running thorough it, paths for cycles and walkers and I can traslate all of this in my mind's eye and come up something that would be appropriate for my fictional world. So no trip out is ever wasted on me!
Also it's good to look at things from a different viewpoint. We're sad our Minister has gone, he really is a great guy, but of course High Wycombe are celebrating their new Minister. Same event, different perspective. I spot the differences and I write using them.
Those who feel Eileen is being far too cynical in her descriptions don't tend to have the courage to tell her face to face, something she finds vaguely amusing. Some more examples from her vast collection are:-
Politicans - Those folk who lie for a living and get away with it.
Political Interviewers - Those folk who know their subjects are corrupt but can’t prove it. Much crawling is involved though to his credit Roherum doesn’t do that. He asks direct questions, naïve questions, anything he thinks might be interesting or useful. In fairness, he usually gets it right. He’d never rival Paxman or Humphries but can do a passable interview.
Gardeners - While politicians come up with total manure in answering questions, gardeners get on with the business of putting real manure around the roses and so on. Eileen knows what is the more honest profession.
Rioting - What humans term rioting, Eileen sees as slightly excitable demonstrations, having seen in the magical world what a real riot is. It’s not a case of escaping with your life here, more a question of are you going home in the shape and form you went to the riot in?! Not a problem that affects humans generally.
Partying - See rioting comments above!
Acting - Eileen admires human acting. She loves dramas and comedies and admires the way a good performance can inspire others, can take people out of themselves and sees it as humans doing something useful as opposed to fighting. She also believes the Fairy Queen acts all the time in pretending to be nice when the monarch is trying to force her will through on Eileen and Jennifer.
Eileen’s view on Earth life is necessarily prejudiced thanks to what she picked up from the Kingdom but also due to direct experience.
Central Heating - Eileen defines this as being weak-willed unless you’re over 80. She knows cold when she comes across it!
Photography - A gross invasion of the soul according to Eileen. She’s not been keen to be snapped when she returns to the Palace after yet another dangerous mission. Indeed last time out she threatened to ram the offending camera somewhere its owner would find it difficult to retrieve from. The owner backed off quickly.
Journalism - The perfect job for any nosey parker who wants that attribute to be official.
Government - What the inevitably bossy seek to get into so they can be bossy officially over everyone else. To be treated warily at all times.
Leisurewear - In Eileen’s view, nothing but polyester tat. While she likes separates, she always goes for quality. She likes natural fabrics - silk, cotton etc - and won’t wear manmade fibres. They’re simply not as good as nature fibres.
Talent Shows - Regrettably Eileen’s views are unprintable.
Some more magical stereotypes are:-
The Fairy Kingdom is full of magical stereotypes. They see stereotypes as a kind of shortcut. A dwarf will always be short. An orc will always be ugly. People know the rules. Some more stereotypes are:-
Magical stereotypes are unavoidable regardless of what dimension you're in or visiting. Some of them are:-
There is reasonable equality between the magical species when it comes to the creative arts. Each of them tends to specialize in at least one creative art.
Elves are best known for their ballards and lyre/harp playing. Dwarves are renowned for their sagas and ability to relate ancestral tales which seem to go on forever (that is the perception of anyone listening to them who is not a dwarf).
Both orcs and trolls have been known to come up with rough paintings (which would equate to the early human cave paintings). Fairies such as Fresdian produce nature books with exquisite paintings. Fresdian, when she went to Earth with Wes and Stan, absolutely adored The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.
Fairy stories are related by all groups as every species has to be educated in these. Naturally when the witches re-tell the tales, they have a very different idea as to who the good guys are.
There is no division between gender either and creative writing is generally encouraged. Factual writing which might criticize the fairy government is less welcome though, as Eileen found out.
I took a look at this on my other website, Fairytales with Bite, but thought I'd look at it again from a different aspect here. And that is who writes the things.
Council notes are written up into a Hansard type publication by the Council themselves. Hanastrew is producing the Fairy Kingdom Highway Code. Guides to etiquettes amongst differing magical species are written by the chief of the species concerned. They also decide who is allowed to see these things but in general distribution is wide ranging as the wish to avoid offence (and having etiquettes to help with this) is a stronger wish than to exclude, say, the sprites from any kind of knowledge.
Maps are produced by the Council and approved by the Queen before seeing the light of day elsewhere. Council acts which need to be known by the public at large are written up by the Queen's clerks, double checked by the Council, signed and sealed off by the monarch before the Acts are posted on every village hall door throughout the realm. This is where magic comes in handy. It speeds up delivery of said notices no end!
There are a number of books and software programs I've found useful with writing. These are:-
One of the things I love about creative writing is the joy of making things up for the stories. That of course leads on to making things up for my websites and blogs. It makes me think more deeply about the fictional magical world I've created and, for me, makes it more real.
I am finding Scrivener very useful with its story template as this features character and place settings with things to fill in about physical description, notes, external and internal conflicts, personality, background, sights, sounds and smells. By the time I've filled one of these in, I've got my outline for my story! These templates are invaluable and it is so nice not to have to create one each time.
I find having a framework for my stories useful. I find, once completing these templates, when I settle down to actually write the story, I write it more quickly than I would have done without the frame to guide me. And the great thing is I could add categories of my own if I wanted to do so.
So yes I like to make things up but I also love having "tracks" to follow which help me make things up more efficently!
Naturally Eileen would defy any expectations here (for her, this is a hobby and a way of life) but for everyone else, even Hanastrew, certain things are carried out in a fairy godmother's spare time. These include:-
Prior to her defection, Eileen's spare time was spent in the Palace Library either reading in depth or writing her version of Kingdom history.
Since her defection, Eileen has adopted her husband' passion and become a keen gardener. Eileen was one of the few in the realm who had sympathy with the Queen for wanting her own spot to plant things herself. Eileen's favourite flowers are roses of all hues though she prefers the heavily scented ones. She finds pruning shrubs back therapeutic, especially after a rough day.
Eileen continues to read well, again focussing on history (this time British history). She does not write now (though is considering her Kingdom memoirs as something to annoy her cousin with, and in fairness, it would work. Roxannadrell would be very annoyed).
Officially speaking, Roxannadrell has no spare time. She spends all her time carrying out royal duties, studying and signing paperwork and so on. However the Queen spotted early on in her reign that if that was all she did, she was in for a boring life so she developed hobbies and, to the disgust of her Council, practices them regularly. Her attitude to her Council was that a few hobbies would make them more rounded beings too but so far they have not responded to that. The Queen's pastimes are:-
This is still considered an art form in the magical realm. The Queen, most of her Council (not the orcs nor the dwarves who consider letter writing a waste of time), Eileen, Hanastrew and the Lord Chamberlain (on behalf of the Royal Household) are all prolific letter writers and have no trouble whatsoever in finding the mot juste.
The Queen naturally uses vellum and exquisite calligraphy for formal documents. For private correspondence she prefers a fountain pen and high quality paper (usually 100gms - she considers anything else lightweight!). Eileen prefers a nice flowing roller pen and a nice coloured stationery set. There is no mistaking her distinctive style in both what she says and how she presents it. She is just as blunt on paper as she is verbally. Her vocabulary is extensive too.
Hanastrew considers the invention of the biro one of the best things to have happened around all known dimensions and she always has several of these in many colours on her. She likes nice crisp white lined paper. Her correspondence and style is as business like and to the point as she herself is though when issuing magical fines for relatively minor offences she does let "rip" with her vocabulary as to what she thinks about the offence and offender. Let's just say everybody on the receiving end of this pays up at once. Nobody wants to find out what Hanastrew does as a follow-up.
The Lord Chamberlain has very formal notepaper and uses fountain pens as he conducts the business of the Royu
There are very few national competitions. The best known one is the Best Fairy of the Year Award. The Chief Witch wouldn't hold the equivalent for witches as she literally did not want the competition.
Villages and towns organize their own competitions for their annual show. Some settlements organize proper poetry competitions, others are happy for sprites to come up with the rudest limericks imaginable (and they do, eagerly!). Yet others have portrait or landscape painting competitions.
There aren't any music competitions. Musicians are paid well for taking part in things like the annual shows but it is generally felt that the creative arts should be encouraged and this is one way to do them. The Queen does not want to turn them into official competitions, feeling it would take a lot of the fun out of the village shows. She is probably right.
Some of the schools have writing competitions for students to practice writing short pieces for magazines and the local newsletters. Roherum resolutely refuses to judge these, despite being the obvious person to choose, because like the Chief Witch he too fears the competition!
Writing Kingdom history comes fraught with difficulty in that only the official version is ever likely to see the light of day.
The one exception is Eileen who wrote her version. She believes, rightly, it is only because of her royal status she was not jailed for it. Her works are kept in the Palace library but access to her books are restricted and anyone wanting to read them has to give their name to the Librarian. These names are passed on to the Queen and her Council. This tends to deter readers!
Eileen was keen to show that the government version of events is largely correct but put in where the rulers at the time did make things worse or more complicated than they needed to do and when they messed things up completely. This does not go down well. Eileen has always thought the realm would be better off facing up to criticism but she is on her own here. Even Hanastrew toes the official line (she thinks it's good for the realm's morale).
These are largely based in and around the village of someone's birth. Most of the Kingdom does not travel that far from its home and thanks to the use of fairyvision to broadcast from around the realm, the need to go far has dissipated.
Village entertainments range from song singing to epic ballad telling and demand stamina (if only to sit through interminable hours to work out which elf can come out with the longest ballad and then to count how many of the audience stayed awake until the end). But they are popular and are always packed out. The summer nights out include a kind of Sports Day in most villages and towns. The sprites always eagerly contest these but seldom do well unless they cheat and, if caught cheating, they get the whole wrath of the crowd down on their heads.
There was a village called Sansway
Where juggling was top of the day
For the annual summer fete
Followed by best looking bait
To distract any beasts tempted to stay.
Writing about the Kingdom's geography is less controversial than writing about its history though it is not without issues.
There are many areas in the realm which have been made barren thanks to having too much magic go through it during historical wars. Any keen student of flora and fauna, such as Fresdian, will be unable to avoid mentioning this as they write about the landscape and wildlife that forms part of it. Naturally if one wants to keep on good terms with the fairy government, any such writer will mention this unfortunate aspect of Kingdom history very briefly and without criticism of the regime.
Fresdian is the leading writer on all things to do with the Kingdom's natural environment though her enthuasiasm for dragons leads most cold, especially those unfortunate villages that have just been subject to a dragon attack. Fresdian's works on flora, fauna and geography are standard works in the realm's schools and colleges. (The universities look down on them as being a bit common. Fresdian rightly takes this to mean she has written them in terms the layman can understand and the snobbish dons don't like it. She will continue to write for the popular market and take no notice of academic snobbery here).
The Kingdom has 7 regions, all of which have distinctive geographical features ranging from the ground being made out of red rock (like Mars) to others having rings like Saturn surrounding them. The main feature on geographical writing is not to look at what we would call the science behind it but to appreciate the beauty of it. Fresdian's works then fall under the Arts category.
The Kingdom is very keen to save magical energy whenever it can. In fairness it has been attacked over the millennia by other worlds eager to steal its powers and in these circumstances the species do unite to see off the threat against them all. To date the Kingdom has not lost any battle but nobody takes this continuing to be the case for granted so borrowing ideas is seen as a necessity. More examples of this are:-
The magical world is pretty shameless about pinching ideas it likes (and does not understand the principles behind our Patent Offices and so on. It is a case of choosing not to understand the principles though). As well as lifting ideas directly, it will also take ideas from television and radio programmes we broadcast on Earth.
The Fairy Kingdom doesn't see pinching ideas as theft, more as a kind of sharing of resources! Naturally though it won't share its magic. Hypocrisy is not a crime here (which makes it huge fun to write about of course).
The Fairy Kingdom never steals ideas, it merely borrows them and adapts them for its own benefit. The Fairy Kingdom is also capable of self-deception on a vast scale. Given it has a divine commission to watch Earth, most of its "borrowings" come from there but the Kingdom has no intention of ever restricting what it borrows or where it borrows from.
From Earth to date its borrowings are:-
Further Fairy Kingdom borrowings from Earth include:-
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.