‘Storyteller Under Sunny Skies,’ a clay sculpture by Rose Pecos-Sun Rhodes (Jemez Pueblo), 1993, in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Early storytelling most likely originated in simple chants. People sang chants as they worked at grinding corn or sharpening tools. Our early ancestors created myths to explain natural occurrences. They assigned superhuman qualities to ordinary people, thus originating the hero tale.
Journeying from land to land, storytellers would learn various regions’s stories while also gathering news to bring back with them. Through exchanging stories with other storytellers, stories changed, making it difficult to trace the origins of many stories.
I write time-slip novels with one narrative set in the past. I hope I create stories that engage the reader and my plot has them turning the pages. The wonderful thing about being a storyteller is being able to bring characters to life so that when a reader finishes your novel the characters live on in their imagination. Research for historical fiction can be overwhelming. If an author wants to convince a reader there is no room for error although on saying that I’ve read the most wonderful and well researched books that have included an incorrect historical detail and it has not detracted from the story. Someone once told me about carpet weavers in India who always make sure to leave a flaw in a finished carpet to show only God is perfect. Research is a long piece of string but on the whole it’s crucial historical details are correct so we can bring the dusty, cobwebbed world of the past to life.
When I write I like to focus on the beauty of the writing and intricate issues. A story that provides a means to better understand the world. A story driven by my characters and one that keeps my readers turning the page.
But the most important thing to remember is that authors are storytellers and must enchant the reader which is easier to do in some stories than others.
One of my favourite books is Speak, Memory an autobiographical memoir by writer Vladimir Nabokov. It’s been on my shelf since my teenage self found it in a Sydney bookstore and it’s a book I reread.
Vladimir Nabokov writes:
‘There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three — storyteller, teacher, enchanter — but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer…The three facets of the great writer — magic, story, lesson — are prone to blend in one impression of unified and unique radiance, since the magic of art may be present in the very bones of the story, in the very marrow of thought…Then with a pleasure which is both sensual and intellectual we shall watch the artist build his castle of cards and watch the castle of cards become a castle of beautiful steel and glass.’
Excerpt: Paris Review No. 40
‘There is no doubt that Nabokov feels as a tragic loss the conspiracy of history that deprived him of his native Russia, and that brought him in middle life to doing his life’s work in a language that is not that of his first dreams.’
Enchantment is such a lovely word, the sound of it, the meaning it brings to mind.
Oxford Dictionary of English:
1 a feeling of great pleasure; delight: the enchantment of the mountains.
2 the state of being under a spell; magic: a world of mystery and enchantment.
I hope the new novel I’m working on tells a story that is full of enchantment and mystery and that my readers want to keep turning the pages. And because it has a magical garden at the heart of the story I thought I’d give you a glimpse of the garden that inspired me.
Have a wonderful day, dreaming, writing and reading and most of all I hope it is full of enchantment.