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Archive for December 15th, 2009

Masha Holl: A Magical World
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Welcome my old friend, Masha Holl. We’re buddies from my days in San Antonio. ~DD

Delilah and I share a passion…and it’s not what you think. Sure, I’m as, um, seduced by her stories as any reader, but I get a particular enjoyment out of the mythical dimension she gives them.

Writers of paranormal, fantasy and science fiction must learn quickly that when they create a hero that is more-than, or other-than human, they must also create a villain, or at least obstacles, that will adequately challenge the hero. But what adds to Delilah’s stories is that she creates a whole world that fits her characters. A whole new structure, a whole new set of rules, beliefs, a whole new reality.

And why would that please me particularly?

Because I’m a folklorist.

I don’t just read and know folk tales and songs. I don’t just collect traditional recipes and study articles on the theoretical relationship between African spider stories and the Norse trickster god Loki. I look at how people lived with all these tales and beliefs.

It does help when I have to take myself into the heart of the story-world I am creating.

But you have to wrap your mind around concepts that are as alien to a modern person as particle physics are to a sixth-grader, to put yourself in the shoes of a medieval peasant.

At the core of traditional, non-scientific thinking we have the opposite kind of perception: magical thinking.

How does this work?

Modern man believes in science. I mean, we all know science, and we know that science works. From the simplest things like boiling water to sterilize it, or wiping surfaces with alcohol or bleach to disinfect them, to more complex concepts like computers and phones, which we may not be able to fix, but we know someone knows, they’re just objects made of other objects, and not constructs working on the mystical power of spells.

We don’t need to perform arcane rituals in order to propitiate some power before we turn on the TV, or else it might blow up in our faces. We just hit a button.

That’s science.

We only read about magic. In Delilah’s books, maybe.

The world centered on magical thinking works differently.
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