Picture a scene. Harry Potter is playing Quidditch with his friends as the sun begins to set. The young wizards zoom and loop through the sky, chasing the winged golden snitch that remains ever out of grasp.
As night falls, a figure appears in silhouette on the horizon, her long hair flowing in the wind. She’s holding a staff and wearing a long cloak. An extreme close-up reveals the cloak is made of colorful patches. The young woman, still in silhouette, runs her fingers through her hair and raises her hand. There’s a sound, like a woman talking, but the words spoken aren’t of this world.
The young woman glows, and we can see her for the first time. Her hair is dark, her skin pale, and her clothes are colorful.
The dramatic music rises as we once again see Harry trying to catch the snitch. The camera shifts to the snitch itself and follows it zooming straight toward something. The music rises and suddenly ends as the snitch flies into the young woman’s outstretched hand.
“The time for games is over,” she says.
The screen fades to black. Enchanting music starts. The words “This time the magic is real . . .” appear on the screen and then fade. The last screen shows the words “Toren the Teller’s Tale” as the music comes to an end.
Sometimes I think of parts of my books as scenes in a film. This is the trailer that I like to imagine for the film version of Toren the Teller’s Tale. Sure, it will probably never exist in real life. But anything can be real in my imagination.
Toren the Teller’s Tale is about real magic. It’s about the magic of stories: the magic that lets you see and hear and touch and taste and smell a story, the magic that transports you to different worlds that could only exist in your imagination, the magic that lets you experience what it’s like to be a boy wizard or a hobbit or a young girl who loves telling stories and is about to discover the magic they hold. Toren the Teller’s Tale is about a kind of magic you know is real. You’ve felt it every time you’ve found yourself swept away by a story.
Those who aren’t very familiar with fantasy and science fiction often think there’s a clear divide between the two genres. Fantasy involves wizards and magic spells and magical creatures, like dragons. Science fiction involves the future and space ships and alien planets and things that could scientifically exist one day.
But there’s more overlap than most people realize. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books, for example, have dragons, but they’re science fiction. Most people would say that Star Wars is a science fiction series, but never say that to a science-fiction purist. Sure, it has aliens, androids and spaceships, but it also has a form of magic called “the force” as well as Jedis, who are basically wizards that live on other planets, have robot companions, and fly spaceships. Star Wars regularly breaks the rules of science, which is fine as long as you don’t call it science fiction.
That’s a topic that comes up in a conversation between Gilbert Garfinkle and Dungeon Master Dave in Why My Love Life Sucks, the first book in the Gilbert the Fixer series. Gilbert, the young aspiring mad scientist, can’t accept that he’s been turned into a vampire. His life is supposed to be a science-fiction novel. How is it possible that it now contains an urban fantasy trope? In his mind, that’s not scientifically possible. It makes no sense. Dungeon Master Dave points out that the Many Worlds theory says otherwise. Because if an infinite number of worlds exist, some of those worlds must have vampires, as well as Gilberts that don’t believe in their existence.
The first book in the series shows Gilbert mostly grappling with his strange, new, unscientific predicament. By the second book (Why It Still Mega Bites, which should be out later this year), he’s come to accept that “magic is just science we don’t yet understand.”
Of course, he wasn’t talking about Quidditch.