Creating Magic in Fiction
Since Harry Potter became a publishing phenomenon in 1997, followed by Twilight, it seems that every book is filled with magic. Wizards, werewolves, vampires, spells, eternal life, transformation – all these fictional devices are now cramming the pages of books in bookstores on- and off-line around the world.
And yet, not only is magic not a new device in books, but it is one of the very oldest there is.
Let us go back to the great novels that were old even for the ancient Greeks: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. These books, which tell the tale of the Greeks’ war with Troy and the subsequent journey home, are filled with magic and strange creatures. There is a cyclops, a jealous witch, sirens who drag sailors into the sea, men transformed into pigs, characters enchanted over and over again. These two books, which could be called the fathers of western literature, have set the tone for hundreds of years of writing and storytelling, and even James Joyce’s seminal work in 1922 Ulysses, was based on its ancient predecessor.
Moving forward from the ancient Greeks to the Romans, to another book that has been hugely influential on modern literature: Metamorphosis by the poet Ovid. Ovid was a high poet (even the Romans had different levels of literature and many different styles, from war reports to bawdy plays to biting satire), and his work was regarded as both the most elevated of the time, and also representative of the spirit of literature. For Ovid’s work features the world of the Roman gods, the world of men and the world of nature all intertwined, and is filled with fantastical transformations – gods into nature, men into gods, all forms merging into others in story after story. These techniques and the literary tradition of transformation and magic was a direct descendent of Homer’s work centuries before.
Skipping several hundred years and focusing on the last two centuries, the Victorians (if we put aside their partiality to fairies and the occasional vampire) were more concerned with the world of societies and structures. Literature at that time was also strongly influenced by the developments in science that went hand-in-hand with the industrial age, leading naturally to decades of realism and modernism, where writers experimented more with literary forms than with spells and potions.
However, in the last few decades, we have seen the most wonderful return to the traditions of the Greeks and Romans. Starting with the tentative steps into magical realism of such writers as Gabriel García Márquez and then Salman Rushdie; and the surreal horror of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, literature has been moving closer and closer towards a state where human worlds and magic worlds are accepted to be irrevocably interconnected. The latest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. wrote a beautiful novel, The Buried Giant, that combined pixies, trolls, magic, wonderment and legend – and has been acclaimed as the highest literature of our age.
As we look around the bookshops filled with vampires, cyclopses, witches, enchantments and transformation, it might be possible to say that, at last, western literature has returned to its wondrous and entirely magical roots.
I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
Leonora Meriel has written two books filled with transformation and magic:
The Woman Behind the Waterfall, a Magical Realism novel, was published on 1 October 2016
The Unity Game, a Speculative Science Fiction novel, was published on 1 May 2017
“The Unity Game” is science fiction with philosophy
WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?
A New York banker is descending into madness.
A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.
A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.
From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.
Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a ‘complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel’ from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.
Reviews for The Unity Game
“A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer
“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer
“The Woman Behind the Waterfall” is literary fiction and magical realism
Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.
Reviews for The Woman Behind the Waterfall
“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine
“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader
About the Author
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.
Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.