The moment I respond to an inquiry about my profession, and the answer evolves beyond the general labels of author, illustrator, and novelist, to the defining tag, fantasy, whether the occasion is an interview or a social event, the conversation that follows tends to split two ways. Either I am faced with correcting the assumption that I must write only for children, or that the stories must be frivolous entertainment. The tag escapist often follows.
At that point, smiling, I tend to run out the guns. Imagination, I point out, has preceded every vision that has created change, invented something, shifted trends in new directions, or provoked an inspired innovation. Children have it in abundance. That sense of wonder that dares to pretend they might go anywhere, do anything, act as if anything out of this world could be brought into their experience and become possible is too often belittled, once we reach adulthood. Everyday living too often discourages us from the play of erasing our boundaries and venturing into the realms of make believe.
As often as we learn from history, many times the solutions of the past can lock us in. It is my conviction that imagination is our most valuable tool to evolve, that if we applied such freedom of vison to any problem confronting our global societies, if we dared to expand beyond the limitations of any situation, or stretched our view of solutions differently, more possibilities would arise, from which change and new direction could emerge. If we could imagine what a world that enriched itself with differences might look like, what boundaries might be erased? What inspires the defining moment, when a dream becomes a goal to be pursued, or an odd angle of view creates a new vista?
What about escapism? I have politely suggested that even the most frivolous fun has genuine value. How many letters have I received from readers who had a bad patch, a hospitalization, a hardship, who avoided depression, or grief, or discouragement by plunging into a story? Temporary relief from an insoluble problem in life lifted their spirits. When they set the book down, they returned to their straits refreshed and better able to cope.
I have always loved reading, experiencing what lies beyond the borders of my experience, and returning enriched by ideas, emotions, new visions. Books have become subversive influences, sources of wild joy, ideas to emulate, maverick innovation, or altered beliefs to stretch prior boundaries. The right book at the right moment has shifted my outlook, profoundly.
Standing on the shoulders of giants, we see farther, reach wider, understand human nature more deeply, and poke fun at our foibles. Reading reaches out. I am proud to be part of a tradition that has been a part of the human mythscape for as long as people have shared ideas through language.
In the spirit of words and reaching out, due to a severe illness, author Patry Francis has asked for help with publicity for the paperback release of her new book, The Liar's Diary. Readers of mystery, suspense and thrillers can visit her webpage for more information on the title: www.patryfrancis.com
Causes Janny Wurts Supports
FINCA Heifer International American Indian College Fund Trust for Public Land Doctors Without Borders Environmental Defense