After all, I mainly write medieval fantasy. And where would I start?
At the beginning, I suppose. But of course, didn’t we love to hear fairy-tales from our parents?
When I was small, my dad told me a different story every night, and every single one came from his own imagination. Looking back I realise how many were inspired by fairy-tales.
With the vivid imagination of a small boy, I had dreams of standing in front of the fire-breathing dragon and slaying it with one slash of my huge sword. Dad even made me a wooden one. And what about Jack and the Beanstalk? I loved it, but my mum was none too pleased when I cut down her giant sunflower.
Of course fairy-tales were told many, many, years before I emerged into the world.
Take the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood as an example. This tale was originally dated back to the 17th century. But latest research has suggested that it could be over 2600 years old, because a similar tale has been found in China. The only differences being that the main protagonist was a small boy and the wolf was replaced with a tiger.
Now that is amazing, for stories from that time, and for centuries afterwards, were never written down. Whilst subtle alterations have occurred and the tales have evolved over time, the basic story has endured. Not long after my father read me that story I met a large Alsatian in our street. I took one look before running all the way home, screaming wolf at the top of my voice. When my mother introduced me to the neighbour’s new dog and he licked me to death, I realised the difference between fiction and truth. I think I slept better that night.
And I still smile at the memory.
One of the most prolific writers of his era was Hans Christian Andersen, yet he is more famous for his wonderful fairy-tales; my favourite being - The Ugly Duckling. What a great tale, and with a nice moral. You can be ugly but you can change, and become beautiful. I’ve always believed that the story should not be taken too literally, as I am sure that he perceived that beauty could be found on the inside as well as the outside.
So, what do we expect from our fairy-tales?
Like any other story we demand a beginning, middle, and an ending, preferably a happy one: anything to keep us interested all the way through. But we don’t always get what we want, do we? And even then it’s not enough, is it?
We want, no, demand more, don’t we?
We want a princess or three, evil villains, brave princes and dragons with long tales and sharp teeth. And we wish for, elves, imps, dwarves, orcs, and fairies; not forgetting bucketfuls of fairy-dust. For you can’t have a fairytale without fairy-dust, can you?
With all the characters leaping from the pages our fantasies soar like an eagle, and all boundaries disappear in a trice. I wonder what would happen if we could bottle up the power of a child’s imagination. The mind boggles with the possibilities.
We love fairy-stories, and even though the tales get bigger in the telling, we pass them on to our children, and our grandchildren. We never worry about the effect on our young because we know that the tales never hurt us.
And as we see the magic in their eyes, we remember. Because fairy-tales will never die as long as we continue to allow the magic of the words to flow from generation to generation. And as a teller of tales, I should know ... shouldn’t I?
I have let my mind wander freely over the words, and I hope that you will enjoy your trip into the world of my imagination.