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Hi, everyone. I’d like to thank Sue for her kind invitation to visit and write a guest post. It is much appreciated and a great honor. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Colleen Chesebro. I am a writer, a poet, and a fairy whisperer…
I’ve just published my first book, and I wanted to share into what genre I categorized The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy. First, I added it to the children’s fantasy genre for ages ten years and up. After further research, I also added it to the magical realism genre because of the magical aspects of the novel.
I thought I would share a couple of distinct differences between fantasy and magical realism that will help you clarify your own writing.
“Fantasy is defined as a work of fiction where magic is the main plot element, theme, or setting. Many fantasy novels take place in imaginary worlds where magic and magical creatures are common.” Wikipedia.
The difference between the two genres is that magical realism uses elements of fantasy which are rooted in our sense of reality, while fantasy creates a new reality for your characters.
When using magical realism, you tell the stories from the viewpoint of people who live in the natural world and experience a different kind of reality. This is what I’ve done with my novel through Abby Forester, the protagonist.
Abby moves fluidly between her existence in the real world and where the fairy nymphs and the gods have their own reality, which occurs in our world, more like a tear in the fabric of time. Both realities exist at the same time on what I call the horizontal realm.
I also helped to reinforce this perception by giving Abby the gift of clairaudience.
The Free Dictionary.com defines clairaudience as “The supposed power to hear things outside the range of normal perception.”
As in most hero-journey tales, the hero always has some type of fantastic ability. In my novel, Abby can hear and speak the languages of all creatures, animals, insects, birds, including the fairy nymphs who exist in Abby’s human reality. Ordinary people can’t pick up the fluencies of sound or understand the dialects, so Abby becomes a fairy whisperer, one who can understand the languages of all creatures and the fairy nymph clans. Her ability is an inherited family trait which is another way to normalize her power.
Using mysticism is another way of adding magical realism elements into your writing. I have the fairy appear in a sparkling mist as a hummingbird who then transforms into the swamp fairy. I also use Abby’s sense of smell to signal a visitation from the fairy. I continuously try to blend the real and the mystical at the same time to ground the reader to the possibilities of magic happening within their own reality.
When the fairy speaks to Abby, it is as if she is retelling history from her point of view, much like a fairytale would. The word of mouth retelling of stories is deeply rooted within our own belief systems which makes it entirely believable to the reader. We tend to accept the fairy’s words as being true, just as we believed in fairytales when we were young.
Although, I think portraying a fairy being in this genre is not really a fantasy element because the fairy is an indicator of Abby’s reality and her belief in fairies. Magical realism gives us a glimpse into a reality that is unlike our own reality, viewed through the eyes of someone else. To Abby, the fairies exist in her world and are treated as if they have always been there.
The real difference between writing fantasy and magical realism is that the reader is left with the understanding that this worldview or reality is correct because it is easy to accept the belief that people live in a world where fairy nymphs protect certain parts of the earth. It also leaves the reader with the feeling that this viewpoint is correct. Your reader is so convinced that they will ask themselves how it could be any other way?
Whereas a fantasy novel is distinguished by the knowledge that the fantasy reality is a figment of the author’s imagination because the world is entirely made up. The characters move within this made-up world instead of living in the real-world setting.
Another aspect of a magical realism story is the use of a mystery central to the conflict. I created a mystery element in the story by adding the antagonist, Rafe Cobb. Cobb is a greedy, local developer who wants the land that Abby inherited from her mother so that he can build more homes to sell which will increase his wealth. But, is that all there is to this mystery? No… I added a family connection filled with secrets where eventually Abby learns some hard truths. This links all the mystical elements together and continues to make the story more believable to the reader.
Another way to add magical realism details to a story is by adding color and atmosphere. There is always a sense of “life” in these stories. The world around the characters is abuzz with activity even when the characters are silent. The backdrop of the story is always the real world where all the magical elements are able to function normally. I added atmosphere, using rich descriptions of the swamp and the surrounding area so that the reader felt like they were participating in the scene. This is easy to do if you use your senses and convey that imagery to paper.
There are three ways to define magical realism as a specific viewpoint.
- In a magical realism reality, time is not linear
- Everything that happens must have a cause and must be linked by more than just chance
- And, it must convey the idea that the magical and the commonplace exist at the same time and are the same thing.
This creates a bending of time and space where the past and future exist on the same plane.
This is what I tried to achieve in The Heart Stone Chronicles. I wanted my readers to become enmeshed in a reality that they too can experience if they only believe. Magical realism has become my reality.
I am a veteran of the United States Air Force, and a retired bookkeeper. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my husband, dogs, children, and grandchildren. When time permits, I also love gardening, cooking, and crocheting old fashioned doilies into complex works of art.
I live in the mountains of Colorado with my husband, and my two, sweet little-old-lady Pomeranians, Sugar, and Spice. You can stop by and visit me on my website colleenchesebro.com. I’d love hearing from you.
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Find the book:
Colleen M. Chesebro
Fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester, recently orphaned and a ward of the State of Illinois moves from Chicago to Florida to live with her aunt, her last living relative. Magnolia Forester becomes her legal Guardian, and together they claim an ancient inheritance; land that belonged to Abby’s mother’s family for generations.
Holding onto the only piece of her mother Abby has left, a calcite pendant and her mother’s most sacred possession, she discovers the truth of her legacy. The pendant is more significant than she could possibly imagine. Forged from a giant mystical heart-shaped stone found on the very swamp land Abby now owns, it holds the power of her ancestors.
But with that power comes greater responsibility, one that pits her against Rafe Cobb, a greedy land developer, who will stop at nothing to own Abby’s swamp land.
As Abby learns to be part of a family again and explores her love of horses with friends, Savanna, and Blake, the swamp slowly gives up some of its secrets. She is summoned by a primeval nymph, who teaches Abby that her true destiny is to protect the nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.
Can Abby save the swamp and the Naiad Nymph Clan from certain destruction before it is too late?
Read author Andrew Joyce’s review of the Heart Stone Chronicles here.
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