Wednesday, 24 November 2010

How to do Magic

How does one cast a spell?

When I was young I really believed it was mind over matter, and that we were all capable of performing magic if we only tried hard enough. Consequently I spent some time trying it out, and was disappointed. But I always believed that if I had enough time to really get down to it one of the methods I came across in novels would eventually work. And I really really wanted to be able to do magic. It's the coolest of abilities, isn't it? To talk to snakes, or fly, or make fire without having to rub little sticks together (because imaginary worlds in which magic is possible never seem to have got around to inventing matches).

But all of these constructs agree that magic is only a matter of application (as long as you have the germ of ability to begin with):

In David Edding's Belgariad series we have The Will and the Word. Will it to happen, and then speak the word to release the magic. Just remember that the laws of physics still apply, and don't ever will something out of existence, or you'll vanish yourself. Tricky.

Harry Potter needs a wand and a lot of knowledge to unleash his dormant power. Get the stress on the wrong syllable or wave the wand the wrong way, and anything could happen. Years are spent at school perfecting techniques, but in the end it all comes down to chance, too. Who knows why some wizards end up so powerful while others struggle to deal with a blast-ended skrewt? Is it genetics? Hm.

Middle Earth has very few wizards, and they are pretty much rock-hard from the word go. They were never men at all, so there was never a hint of having to learn anything; however, Gandalf does get a free upgrade after his battle with Balrog, which is nice. Here's a lovely Wikipedia page in which someone else with more time and energy than me explains exactly what wizards are.

Ged has to go to wizard school too, in A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin, but it's a bit different to Hogwarts. Ged has natural ability and soon masters magic, but unfortunately in the process he summons a pretty unspeakable nasty that stalks him through the world. Doh. Who knew that magic had a dark side? Um.

I'm sure you can think of many more examples of how a magician is made. I'm going to secretly continue to practice on the Will and the Word, as that makes the most sense to me... *wills chocolate hobnobs into existence*

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Veggie Books: Fantastic Mr Fox

Let's do some Veggie Books again. For those who are new to this, I have a theory that no novel can ever be truly great unless a fruit or vegetable is included within it. Just an idea. Start looking for veggies in your favourite books, and see if my theory holds up.

Here's my latest veggie book:

It turns out Fantastic Mr Fox is still fantastic. The Munchie has reached the age where she has begun to understand Roald Dahl's uniquely brutal sense of gleeful humour, and she has whizzed through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, and I have James and the Giant Peach lined up for her (which would also be a strong contender for a veggie book, obviously) but right now we are utterly enamoured of Fantastic Mr Fox. Not the film version, which is beautiful and funny, but not quite Dahl-ish enough somehow, and a bit too suave, in a very non-British way.

Here's a little bit:

Bean was a turkey-and-apple farmer. He kept thousands of turkeys in an orchard full of apple trees. He never ate any food at all. Instead, he drank gallons of strong cider which he made from the apples in his orchard. He was thin as a pencil and the cleverest of them all.

Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean.
These horrible crooks
So different in looks
Were none the less equally mean.


Dahl does such great grotesques. Mr Twit is my all-time favourite. I love a grotesque character, the fascinating kind, and apparently the Munchie is no different. She loves the idea of Boggis, Bunce and Bean, and of the Terrible Tractors and The Great Feast. Who can blame her? When I was little I loved it too.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Cheerio, chin chin

As you may or may not have noticed, the Veggiebox decor has undergone some very slight alterations. This is due to me coming to the decision after over half a decade of shared ownership, if memory serves me, I will be doing the gentlemanly thing and giving the lady of the manor some peace.

It follows that I hereby declare this blog to be under the sole ownership of the great and good Ms Aliya Whiteley, so everyone for the first time in years will be able to benefit from her charm and wit without the dull and frankly increasingly infrequent batch of links and words I've posted to the site.

I've no doubt that everyone will continue to visit frequently, as of course will I, but as a regular guest rather than as a contributor of posts.

Thanks to Aliya for sharing so nicely for so long, but I feel her humour and good writing needs space to breathe, and no doubt having just one author answerable to the duties of the Veggiebox will be far less confusing for any uninitiated types reading it. I leave you with a warning: be nice or I'll be back.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Well hello, handsomes

You wait ages for an interview, and then two come along at once. One here at Run Riot and another one here, over at Nik Perring's blog. Oh, and it's Bonfire Night, so go and read my just-published story about it.

In other news, I am within sniffing distance of completing the first draft of my new novel. Go me!

In other news two, Misfits is back (on Thursday), which if you haven't seen you really should (you can watch the first series on the Channel 4 player still, I think) with Being Human (which is thankfully much better than its childish fanboy-laden website) to follow in the not too distant future, so that's winter viewing sorted then, while I await the saccharine joy of Lark Rise.

Happy sparklering. Remember - pets inside with the radio or TV on please, people. (You're probably okay with goldfish or deaf animals actually, but you know what I mean.)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Mr Pine

A particularly fine post over on the Mr Blog blog today. It's about a pine shop in Southsea. The comments are also insightful.

In other news, here's a little story for Bonfire Night.