Where the Magic Begins
By Vonnie Winslow Crist
As I sit with J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit open on my lap, I'm thankful for the wonderful speculative fiction that I read as a child. It was those books from long ago that stirred my imagination and inspired me to write stories like my new epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean – Book I of the Chronicles of Lifthrasir.
I still have a stack of 10-page fairytale booklets published by The Platt & Munk Co., Inc. in the early 1930s given to me one at a time for “something to look at” when my parents visited with an elderly friend on the other side of Baltimore.
Before I entered kindergarten, I'd taught myself to read during those visits using Cinderella, Chicken Little, Dick Whittington, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Tom Thumb. And who knows, maybe the seed for the precocious cats in The Enchanted Skean formed as I read Platt & Munk's Puss in Boots.
Three of my favorite books when I was a second grader were Ruth Stiles Gannett's My Father's Dragon series. In her tales, right under the noses of people in the “real world” lived a family of blue and yellow dragons. I had such vivid memories of the beautifully-colored dragons, I didn't realize until I bought a copy of the books years later as an adult that the pictures were rendered in pencil. The stunning hues of the dragon family had been imagined by me. And dragons remain one of my favorite things to draw and write about, so I put a blue dragon in The Enchanted Skean.
Perhaps the most serendipitous introduction I had as a preteen student to the world of magic and folklore came from the librarian at Perry Hall Elementary. In the fifth grade, I'd rush through my regular classwork, and then, ask to go to the library to help put books back on the shelves. By the end of the year, not only did I know the Dewey Decimal System quite well, but the librarian gifted me with 3 slightly damaged books.
The first gift book was Lupe de Osma's The Witches' Ride and Other Tales from Costa Rica. I was immediately infatuated with the ghosts, witches, fairies, and other magical beings written about in that book. The beginnings of the wisewomen and owl sprite in The Enchanted Skean? The second gift book was about prehistoric creatures that never existed. Among the critters written about were merfolk. The beginnings of the sea-hags in The Enchanted Skean?
Writers tend to write about what they know. What I've known since toddlerhood were fairy tales, folktales, myths, legends, and magical creatures introduced to me by books. Still an avid reader, I gravitate to work by Neil Gaiman, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles de Lint. It's the fantastical and sometimes dark worlds created by these writers that draw me in. And as a writer, I strive to create my own darkly magical worlds for my readers to enjoy.
For a taste of the world of The Enchanted Skean, here's the link to a 3-chapter excerpt: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/the_enchanted_skean_excerpt and a link to the novel's book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU
You can find The Enchanted Skean and other books by Vonnie Winslow Crist on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Amazon and elsewhere.
Born in the Year of the Dragon, Vonnie Winslow Crist has had a life-long interest in reading, writing, myths, folklore, fairy tales, legends, and art. A firm believer that the world around us is filled with miracles, mystery, and magic, Vonnie still sees fairies amidst the trees, mermaids on jetties, and ghosts and goblins of all sorts in the shadows. Visit her website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com and blog: http://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com Become her friend and fan on Facebook: http://facebook.com/WriterVonnieWinslowCrist and Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/vonnie_winslow_crist And follow her tweets: http://twitter.com/VonnieWCrist