Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Side Roads of Fantasy by Gail Roughton

“Welcome to Fantasy Island!”  Ricardo Montalban, remember?  Mr. Rourke.  Don’t know about y’all, but I really loved that show.  (Ricardo Montalban wasn’t bad, either.)  Like my cousin Debbie said in an email a few years back, “I spend a lot of time looking for the exact location of Fantasy Island.”  (Always told her I was goin’ to use that line somewhere and now I have.) 

Why do humans love fantasy?  Because we need it.  We need it in some elemental, basic way, I think.  Sometimes it’s light and funny and gives a momentary respite from the same ole’ same ole’ of our days.  Sometimes it’s dark and scary and gives us reassurance that no matter how bad your day’s going, things could be a whole lot worse.  Because the things that go bump in the night could be real.  The good news is, usually they’re not.  Key word:  usually.
I made the acquaintance of fantasy worlds at a very young age.  All children do, I think.  The lucky ones retain that acquaintance with fantasy worlds throughout their entire lives.  And I think a lot of those lucky ones are called – writers

When I was roughly five or thereabouts, I looked through the car window one dark night on the way home from a Drive-In movie treat.  A movie date night with my Daddy, just him and me.  Popcorn.  Cokes.  The swing set in front of the big outdoor screen where all the kids played in the dusk as they waited for the dark to come down all around them so the movie film could roll.  Fantasy land for a little girl all in itself.  He took me to see one of the Three Stooges movies.  I’m not entirely certain, and don’t even know if in fact there ever was a Three Stooges movie that involved the Three Stooges being in space.  But I have a vague recollection that was the plot of the movie.  Or maybe I’m remembering something from a preview of a coming attraction.  Five or thereabouts was about 55 years ago. 

Anyway, I remember resting my head against the pillow propped against the window and looking out and up.  Up at the stars.  At their twinkling, revolving, pulsating light.  And I thought, “Suppose somewhere up there, there’s another planet?  One where I have a double?”  I don’t suppose the words “parallel world” actually crossed my mind at that age, though I will say most grown-ups seemed to think I had a pretty impressive vocabulary.  But with or without the words to express the concept, that’s what I was imagining. 

Years later, I had the thought it might be fun to write an historical romance.  That thought was rapidly followed by the thought I didn’t want to do any research for it and didn’t have time for research even if I’d wanted to.  I just wanted to write.  And from the hidden storehouses of my brain, the words “parallel world” popped into my mind.  Because in a parallel world, I could do anything I wanted to.  It was mine.  My world.  My rules.  And so I created one.  Vanished.  And in that world, folks – You ain’t in Kansas anymore!
So be careful when you ask a writer where they get their ideas.  You just never know what they’re going to say. Or how long those ideas might have been brewing in the back of their brains.

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