I’m at the SCBWI International conference in LA and easily the biggest draw for me this year was the chance to hear M.T. Anderson speak again. (I am not easily star-struck, but he is a star in the writing firmament for me. The man is a brilliant writer, and no shambles as a speaker — or a singer. Check out the Team Blog entry for an explanation of that bit — unless you live in Delaware. Oh, actually you need this post for the explanation. But look at both.)
Anyway, the point is this: He spoke in large part about the idea of writing about exotic lands and creatures as a way to come home with new eyes… to see the familiar anew, either because the familiar is really lurking in that foreign land, by analogy to our own, or because the experience of being in the foreign land of the story helps us see our own world with a fresh perspective. One example (paraphrased)… perhaps we in the U.S. embrace fantasy lands so warmly because we see so much of one town blending into the next, all chain stores and strip malls and so forth, and we therefore long for cities of brass, cities of fluted towers, places of difference and distinction. Similarly, Ray Bradbury’s MARTIAN CHRONICLES works not so much because it is a tale of people in a foreign place, but because we are all strangers in a strange land.
What of your familiar life do you see in your favorite fantasies? (Or vice versa?)
Or that’s too abstract for a Friday, try this: go to his website and learn things you really never knew about Delaware. And toy with the idea of what that means about, and to, world-building.