Monday, 22 February 2016
It began at the age of 10. A girl I had meet on my first trip overseas with my parents asked to be my penfriend, and my parents agreed for me. Answering her letters was part of my homework, which I usually did reluctantly at first...until a year or two later, when I lived overseas for a year and missed my friends back home.
Then letters from home became the most exciting and special thing in my life! Suddenly, the written word was magical and full of power.
A year later, and back home, I got excited about letters from new friends I had made overseas. And then I realized it was just as exciting to receive letters from people I had not even met!
And so, my teenage years were spent "penpalling" with like-minded girls of my own age all over the world. I began reaching out to unusual and exotic countries, curious to learn what life in a faraway country was like.
While there were many ways of finding new penfriends, such as ads in some pop culture magazines, there were also "Friendship Booklets" which were sent around from one person to another. Someone starts a booklet, stapling a few pages together and writing their name, address, age and interests on one page. They enclose it with the letter to one of their penpals, who then adds his/her name, address and details, and forwards it to another penpal.
This way, Friendship Booklets reached avid letter-writers and helped like-minded people connect, and waiting several weeks for a reply was the norm back then.
Once you found a like-minded penpal, letters became long and involved, often expressing thoughts and feelings that one couldn't speak easily to anyone face to face. In this way, letter-writing became an important form of expression combined with creativity, as one still had to form sentences, paragraphs and write in an entertaining style to keep one's penfriends interested and involved.
Those letter-writing days are long gone now, thanks to email and a life busy with other things, but the creative writing and expressions through words have developed and enriched my life, and I thank penpals and Friendship Booklets for these rewards!
Friday, 12 February 2016
Ancient Egypt is so fascinating, isn't it? Everyone seems to think so, whether it's the enigma of the Pyramids, the timeless beautystyle of their art and jewellery, the mystery of the mummies, or many other things.
Personally, I became intrigued and fascinated with Ancient Egypt when I was in 5th grade and we did a school project on it. Back then, I thought the hieroglyphics were great fun - like a code!
Over the years, I learned more about Ancient Egypt as I read all kinds of books - whatever I was into at the time, but what grabbed me the most, and inspired me to include it in my Fantasy/Magical Realism novels, is Ancient Egyptian MAGIC.
People of Ancient Egypt took Magic very seriously, and many superstitions arose from it. Apparently, a certain priest class could perform magic, which put the common people in awe of them. Stories about their magic appear in various writings, even the Bible (the Ten Plagues of Egypt).
One of the interesting aspects of their Magic is the use of a primitive doll to represent a person, and then cause that person pain or some kind of harm by sticking pins into the doll. Yes, like the voodoo doll, and it's also known as poppet magic.
Until I read about these dolls existing in Ancient Egypt already, I thought that kind of magic was a Voodoo thing only, but look at this:
They were performing this kind of "Sympathetic Magick" back in Ancient Egypt already!
Needless to say, I had to include it in my latest novel, and it features in the 3rd book, "Rhuna, The Star Child".
Saturday, 6 February 2016
Inspired by Tibetan Magic!
One of the many things that inspired Rhuna's adventures in my YA Fantasy/Magical Realism series is
the mysticism surrounding Tibet. Maybe you've heard the eerie chant of the Buddhist monks living in isolated monasteries high in the Himalayas, or you've heard about the legends of sacred ancient texts hidden in some inaccessible hiding place in Tibet.
What fascinates me most about Tibet, however, are the persistent stories about certain people who appear to have superhuman powers, such as monks that can levitate or become invisible, or do other strange and wondrous things.
Reading snippets like these prompted me to read up on the subject some more, and I got a lot out of
a book entitled "Tibetan Magic and Mysticism" by J.H. Brennan. Some of the chapter headings are: Strange Powers, Illusion and Reality, Void Mind Meditation, Implications of Unreality, and my favourite chapter: Tibetan Tulpas.
So, what are Tulpas?
Tulpas are creations of the mind that look like real people, but are the result of many hours of intense concentration by adepts or masters. The theory is that with the right kind of meditation and concentration, the human mind is capable of creating something tangible and visible. Like when you imagine something so intensely, that it feels real, only after some hours or several days of continuous concentration, it actually becomes real. Or almost real. And that's called a Tulpa.
What a great idea for one of my future books in the Rhuna series! I've already planned to set the next and fourth book in Ancient India, and Tibet is just north of there, so that's where she'll be journeying in the fifth book!
Read more about Tulpas on this excellent site:
Mystery Files Blog page about Tulpas
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
When I first began writing my novels, I called them Fantasy and Historical Fantasy, but meanwhile I have decided that the new sub-genre “Magical Realism” is much more fitting.
One of the main things that make novels like mine more “Realism” than “Fantasy” is that the people are normal human beings (albeit some with special powers!) who have problems and concerns like everyone else.
For example, my main character, Rhuna, is a woman living in the mystical past of Atlantis and Ancient Egypt, but her relationships, everyday concerns and moments of self-doubt are things that every reader can understand and identify with.
In the 3rd and latest book, “Rhuna, The Star Child,” Rhuna is re-united with her 18-year-old daughter, who has spent the last few years under her father’s very restrictive control. And what is the first thing she does when she arrives in Ancient Egypt to be with her mother? She falls in love with the first intriguing man she meets – but he’s every mother’s worst nightmare because he has a terrible reputation as a philanderer, and he is the leader of an underground Dark Magic organization – which in our day may as well amount to a crime gang.
So, Rhuna is confronted with the challenges of being the mother of a young woman who is involved with the worst kind of guy, and everyone says so. But she’ll only drive her daughter away and right into his arms if she puts too much pressure on her to break it off.
These are the kind of realistic situations and personal challenges my characters find themselves in, and I hope most readers enjoy this kind of light fantasy with realism they can identify with.