An open letter to the genre of fictional Magical Realism, posted in response to DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Genre Blender… 🙂
Dear Magical Realism,
You may not remember me; I was always the quiet little girl sitting curled up in a corner somewhere, eyes shining, book in hand. We actually spent a lot of quality creative time together during my school years with mutual friends the Chronicles of Narnia. Seven books portraying a magical world within our mundane world with many different portals between the two – absolute bliss.
I realise it has been a long time since we last met in such conspiratorial silence, nigh on forty years in fact, but throughout the intervening years I have often thought of you with fondness, especially now the film versions of my childhood favourites are being created and released, one by one. Peter and Susan, Edmund and Lucy, and of course Aslan, finally in the flesh. It is truly amazing what good computer graphics can do, but however magical the casting and characterisation, sadly the movie versions have never quite succeed in recapturing the full extent of my childhood imagination when stretched to the creative max.
I’ve quite enjoyed watching the Harry Potter movies as an adult too, although for one reason or another the books themselves bypassed my adult attention, so you and I missed out on meeting up on that occasion. Although re-reading my childhood favourites in adulthood can always instantly transport me back in time to when I first passed through that particular fictional portal, with the Harry Potter books it felt different, it felt somehow fraudulent to immerse my middle-aged self in a virgin teen world, and so that potential meeting between us simply passed me by.
But recently my creative imagination has once more been stirred and stretched into life by the fantastical escapades of fictional characters. I have been introduced to a new magical world in the contemporary Rivers of London series, and it is this chance meeting with these adult mutual acquaintances that has prompted this letter. One day I idly picked up a book someone had left in the lunch area at work, and was immediately transfixed by the novel world I found inside – who needs a childhood wardrobe to climb into when you can just as easily lose yourself at whatever age in the magical realities contained between the covers of a book?
To my great surprise I felt an instant rapport with probationary Police Constable Peter Grant, who after naively taking a formal statement in a murder enquiry from a ghost, suddenly becomes the first apprentice wizard in fifty years when he finds himself assigned to an obscure branch of the Metropolitan Police that deals with policing all supernatural occurrences in and around contemporary London.
I really love the concept of this surreal magical over-world, superimposed onto ours and visible only by those initiated into the world of magic. Living here in London I now find myself looking mischievously for ghosts in Covent garden, searching out potential demons on the Underground, thinking curiously about the inevitable layer upon layer of past lives laid down and stored over the centuries complete with whatever energies and memories may be trapped in between.
So I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for your silent input once more in helping to rekindle an imaginative fire I feared had burned out decades ago. To find myself at fifty years old, again quietly curled up in a corner, eyes shining, book in hand, immersed in a brand new grown-up world of Magical Realism, is proving to be a truly magical experience for me, and I look forward to many more quietly creative quality moments spent together with our new mutual friends in the future.