Sometimes writing involves having to reinvent the wheel. I often take the things that we think we know, such as dragons and demons, and turn them into creatures that inhabit my stories. It so happened that during NaNoWriMo I was challenged to add Fairies to my current work in progress.
The Rowdies are not really the sort of mercenaries that would bother themselves with bothering fairies… so how could I rise to the challenge and not make a sow’s ear out of it?
I spent a little time researching the historical origins of fairies (I read it on Wikipedia, it must be true) and that gave me a starting point. After all, modern literature has a large base of books and tales based on the concept of fairies, but I was wondering what myths and folk traditions all this wonderful wealth of stories evolved from. As a child, I loved J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’, and adored the classic children’s book ‘The Shadow Castle’ by Marian Cockrell.
I read Tad Williams’ wonderful urban/neoclassic fantasy, The War of the Flowers in 2002, and after having reread it last month I was convinced that there is ample opportunity for mayhem in Waldeyn, with the addition of a few fairies into the mix. But I will do them my way. Waldeyn is a real world in my mind, and the elemental creatures, and majik creatures must be as realistic as possible. After all, dragons in my world are based on the Steller’s Jays that live in my backyard, so Fairies must also have some basis in my true reality.
What if J. M. Barrie was right when he wrote, “When the first baby laughed for the first time, his laugh broke into a million pieces, and they all went skipping about. That was the beginning of fairies.” Majik is an unseen force that is strong in the world of Waldeyn, mutating many of the natural creatures there the way that pollution of the environment does here. The mutations that are beneficial survive and are passed on to the next generation Like frogs and their susceptibility to pollution here, some creatures are more susceptible to the majik than others.
In a world where firedrakes and waterdemons are possible, then it stands to reason that if such a thing could happen, it would happen in Waldeyn. IF fairies do exist in Waldeyn what do they look like? For me, the answer was simple: They would exist the way that butterflies and birds exist, being a little of both and a lot of neither, stirred together with a great joy de vive; all that and then rather inexpertly formed in man’s image. The picture at the top by John Anster Fitzgerald defines perfectly what they look like in my mind
Now that I knew what they were, I knew that had to write them into the story, and that was where the fun really started. This was the opportunity I had been looking for to inject some humor into the tale.
First off, just how would one go about routing fairies? And what could possibly be so bad about them that one would resort to hiring expensive mercenaries to rout them?
So, suppose the King is out-of-town, and has taken all the decent knights with him. And suppose that he left good old John De Portiers in charge, but forgot to leave him the key to the treasury, and then suppose that something mysterious and wrong and full of majik is lurking on the road to Hyola. A bargain is struck, but it is one that is not immediately financially beneficial to Billy Ninefingers…
I have been having fun with this for the last few evenings! Even though the finished product will be different from its current form, I now have my jumping off place and now I have a humorous event to lighten up the doom and gloom of some of the more serious passages in this tale.