Magic Realism?

Alpha Revelation SmallIt’s been two years-and-a-bit since Alpha Redemption hit the shelves. I still haven’t fully recovered from the shock, which might explain why the sequel has taken so long. Although, in my defence, I did finish Hanzet in the meantime so I reckon that’s a good excuse.

One thing I discovered while writing the sequel is that, while still enjoyable, writing to a deadline is more work than fun. You’re always aware that the clock is ticking and that you have to stop playing solitaire and focus. At the moment, however, I’m in the fortunate position of starting a new project from scratch and without any pressure. It’s great to be writing just for the sheer unadulterated pleasure of it. I sit down at my desk, crack my knuckles (not really, but it’s a great cliché), toss my hair back (ed: LOL), and write.

For my next project, I’m working on an anthology of short stories with some Magical Realist content. I was introduced to the genre by my tutor as a way of broadening my reading horizons. In case you’ve never heard of it (I hadn’t) Magic Realism includes stories in which weird, magical, fantastical, or dream-like elements are inserted into an otherwise perfectly normal narrative.

The first story with Magical Realist elements I read was “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol, written around 1835. In this piece, a man’s nose falls off and moves through Russian society where it eventually achieves a higher office than its owner and refuses to be reattached. The story is bizarre and confusing at first, but it demonstrates the Magic Realist genre by treating a socially mobile nose as though it were perfectly normal. Unlike Fantasy, where such a story might feature noses and ears living in a world of body parts, thereby making the entire world fantastical, the nose in “The Nose” is the only weird element. At first you don’t realize that the character is a nose because the narrative treats him (it) as a normal person. Only once the plot has developed do you see what is going on. Plus, it helps to know that you are reading Magic Realism which means you expect something odd.

At first glance, the genre may seem silly or ridiculous, but there is usually a purpose behind this. The imagery can be memorable, even disturbing. The sheer weirdness forces it to stick in your mind long after you have finished reading.

So that’s what I’m busy with right now. I don’t want to create anything disturbing, but I do want it to be memorable. At the very least, I can tell you that it is great fun to write. There’s loads of scope for subtext, plus you get to let your imagination go berserk for a while.

All going well, I’ll have the anthology ready for submission by March 2013, just in time for the release of Alpha Revelation and Hanzet.

About P.A.Baines

P.A.Baines writes computer programs for a living but would much rather be writing Christian speculative fiction, which he does whenever he gets the opportunity. Educated in Africa, he is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through Buckinghamshire New University in England. He enjoys asking "what if?" but is tired of how speculative fiction deals with religion in general and the God of the Bible in particular. His stories are for Christians who enjoy science fiction but who normally avoid the genre because of its tendency towards an atheistic world-view. His aim is to write entertaining and thought-provoking stories that stretch the imagination, but which keep God in His rightful place as Lord over all creation. P.A.Baines is British but currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife. He spends what little spare time he has keeping fit, watching films, and playing computer games with his children. He does most of his reading via audio books, which he listens to while commuting to and from work on his trusty bicycle. He speaks reasonable Dutch and is in the process of learning French.

4 comments on “Magic Realism?

  1. I’m a big fan of magical realism, so I’ll look forward to Alpha Revelation as well as the short story anthology.

    • I’d love to get your opinion on my first real attempt in the genre. Up to now I’ve only done sci-fi (including Alpha Revelation), so this will be a fun change :-).

  2. The only book I can really pin down that I know is magical realism is Fire and Hemlock. The magic isn’t ever out in the open, it just infuses the otherwise ordinary narrative of the ups and downs of a girl’s ordinary life. Until the last couple of chapters, anyway. I don’t know if I’d ever want to write it. My poison is urban fantasy. 🙂

    • Hi Kessie. I’m normally sci-fi but I felt like a change after a very long edit session. Dabbling in Magic Realism is almost like being on vacation :-).

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