This is a question I’m asked more than any other. I always try to answer truthfully, but I never find it easy.
Do you believe in magic?
If the answer is ‘maybe’ or, better still, ‘yes’, then I think you may understand. Magic is the only way I can explain the feelings that morph into story ideas. It can happen anywhere and totally without warning.
A while back I was walking the dog through the wood down in the valley. Light was fading and the trees cast long shadows and all I could hear was the soft padding of paws on years of fallen leaves.
In that moment, magic is happening.
I begin to see movement behind one of the trees. As I look more closely, I see the figure of a man emerging. He is wearing long robes and peering into the gloom. He does not see me; I do not exist in his world.
There is something in the wood that worries him. His dark eyes dart from side to side and then he quickly dodges to the next tree for cover. This man is real. He has a name, although I don’t know it yet. For some moments I lose track of my dog and surroundings and begin to understand this man and what is troubling him.
It takes a few moments, and then the feeling falters and I am back to reality. The magic can happen several times in one day or not at all. I don’t think it matters where I am or what I am doing, I just have to have the magic with me.
Pretty much anything can trigger it. I can be passing a well-known door or walking down an unfamiliar passageway. It could be a person I have just glimpsed or someone I have known for years. Once it was a narrow boat; once it was an old shed half hidden with ivy. When the magic is sparked within me, I lose all sense of who and where I am.
It’s the best feeling.
Once I saw a necklace in a shop. I didn’t know the story behind it, but sensed there was one and bought it. I didn’t buy it to wear; I hung it over my computer screen until the story revealed itself to me. Then an entire world, peopled with fascinating characters, flowed. At least they were fascinating to me.
These moments are real and utterly delicious.
I only remember some of the magic moments. I follow up even fewer, but if a moment stays with me, my musing might lengthen into a tale and, sometimes, develop into a story that I am compelled to write.
This probably sounds fanciful, but to me the enchantment is as real as a brand new copy of my book.
I can feel it.