‘I don’t like fantasy fiction, I like my stories to be realistic.’
As someone who loves to read and write fantasy and paranormal fiction, I hear these statements a lot. There is an assumption here that reality is a clear and finite thing, something solid that is the same for everyone.
But can you ever really know what another person sees as reality? For some, there is no such thing as colour, just a broad spectrum of different greys. For others, there is no real definition between musical notes.
You only need to sing happy birthday with a group of people to see how differently reality can manifest. Some people can’t hear the starting note and sing a seemingly random collection of sounds. Others are bang on the tune. Some struggle to cope with those two extremes and a final group will add a harmony. Each person feels they are living in an obvious and solid reality, but it is strikingly different to the world inhabited by the others around them.
We all have things we’re good at, and things that make no sense to us. To me, Tarot and Reiki make perfect sense, but when my husband looks at a broken washing machine, tinkers with it, and then gets it working I’m in awe. To me, that is magic. It’s something I don’t understand, and I would have no concept of how to do myself.
So we are all surrounded by magic-workers, people who exist in fantasy-type realities, where things that are impossible in our personal world, are accomplished with ease and precision. Look at doctors, architects, look at a teacher who shows a child how to read, or someone who creates something stunning with their hands or minds. In this way, reality and fantasy are movable concepts, based on the person who is talking about them. This applies to our skills, but like my Happy Birthday example, it also applies to our senses.
I have been told many times that I am too sensitive and sometimes that does feel like the truth. It can be overwhelming, but to me, and a huge number of other people, this is a reality we live with every day. Personally, I see it as a strength, not a weakness.
Developed, this sensitivity can lead to a whole range of experiences and skills that may once have seemed like fantasy. Many people spend a lot of time and effort trying to develop this sensitivity, and I am grateful to have it.
To me, the energy in a room can be real and palpable. I have immediate and strong reactions to people, places and suggestions. I talk to my spiritual guides and they answer, and I remember many of my past lives. I have spent most of my life in a ‘normal world’ in which I have to hide my differentness. Is it therefore strange that I like to read and write about alternate realities and about people with extra heightened senses who don’t fit in?
These stories may or may not be based on what I would consider ‘reality’, but they all hold the recognition of an often ignored truth, that life can be more than the solid objects we see around us. It can be greater than the ‘grim reality’ we so often read about in adult fiction.
So am I saying I believe in Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and Fairies? Well, yes and no.
I don’t believe in Vampires, apart from the energy kind, the people who wind you up for the kick of it, or who leave you drained and walk away on a high.
I don’t believe in werewolves, anyone want to challenge me on that? I’d be fascinated if you did!
Witches, yes of course! And all the ones I’ve encountered live by a code of Do No Harm, they adore nature and focus on healing. Plus, their faces are absolutely not green.
Fairies? I have a friend who can see nature spirits in the garden. They are energy beings that nurture the trees and plants. I haven’t managed to see these myself, not with my eyes anyway, but I live in hope.
Then of course there’re angels, those beings who exist in fantasy fiction, religion and spirituality. These beings cross so many social boundaries. And yes, I absolutely do believe in them, and experience them regularly.
So do I only read about the things I believe in? Am I looking for my version of straight reality when I choose a book? The answer has to be no. What I look for is the spark, the possibility, the excitement in my chest that tells me the writer has plugged into something real, something vibrant that resonates with me and with the energy I work with. I look for the emotions that come with differentness, and with the joy of finding those who are like you. These things are real, whether or not the characters have recognisable forms.
And one of the things I really love about fantasy and paranormal fiction is the optimism, the belief in yourself and in others, that there are forces you can work with to make the world a better place. This is so often missing from our ‘grim reality’ and in our own world.
I feel we need more light, more colour, more passion and belief in the stories we surround ourselves with. Because for a while, we live in them. We work with them, falling in love, saving the world or bringing truth to light. These worlds are real. Once we have read them, they exist in our energy, our thoughts, hopes and fears. They can bring us magic, or they can flatten us, reminding us of everything that is wrong with the world.
We must each make our choices. But for myself, I choose magic.