From the time I learned how to read, fairy tales, the world of mythos, nourished me and fed my curiosity about life and the world. My parents had purchased a set of the Books of Knowledge, wonderful, fat red volumes that I browsed whenever I had the chance. At the center of each book was a special section of nursery rhymes, folk, and fairy tales. They were the heart of each encyclopedia, and I believe they continue to be the heart of literature. The heart of civilization. All of the archetypes show up there: the good/bad mother; the helpful/deceitful trickster; the caring/unfeeling king. And so many more.
The Books of Knowledge also contained much of the everyday, mundane world, and I found many things to be amazed about. This was before rockets and moon explorations, so the contributors guesstimated how long it would take a propeller plane to fly to the moon. The very idea of making that journey stimulated my imagination. But it was the marvelous fairy tales that became nuggets to fuel my fantasies and propel me forward. I didn’t need an actual plane to contact outer space. I could get there via the same route I took to visualize the stories I was reading.
These early engagements with the world of fairy—the world Tolkien wrote so passionately about—inform much of what I write today. The New York literary agent that fell in love with my novel Curva Peligrosa claimed my writing has the potency of folk or fairy tale. I was pleased he picked up on that aspect of Curva Peligrosa since I think of it as an adult fairy tale, and adult fairy tales can be very sophisticated, as Curva is. But there’s an underlying quality to her story that returns the magic to the world and leaves the reader wanting more. She’s willing to step outside the boundaries that limit our usual visions and take the reader with her.
I had a similar feeling when I recently saw Mary Poppins Two. Mary inhabits both the natural and supernatural realms. We can get so bogged down in “reality,” the everyday, that we miss all of the possibilities surrounding us. The children in the film didn’t have any trouble entering Mary’s world, and eventually the adults got it, too.