Today I have the privilege to have Michael R. Fletcher, author of Beyond Redemption, visit my humble blog for a guest post.
Don’t forget to check out Michael’s other awesome guest posts at Beauty in Ruins, mightythorjrs and Bookwraiths.
Santa and Fantasy
My five year old daughter recently lost her first tooth. She was very excited at the prospect of a visitation by the Tooth Fairy and asked many intelligent questions. How will the Tooth Fairy get in when the door is locked? Does she come through the window? How big is she? Can she carry the tooth if she’s really small?
My wife—who grew up without Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy—let me field the questions. As I answered I began to question what I was doing.
Why was I lying to her? How would she feel when she learned the truth? Why do we do this, why do will fill our children with tales of magic and wonder that we ourselves don’t believe?
On top of that there’s my close friend, [REDACTED]. He’s the first person to read everything I write and is in fact the guy I write for. His feedback has shaped my novels and stories for many years. Even though he’ in his 40s, he’s still pissed at his parents for lying about Santa. He’s probably just a crazy outlier, but I have trouble ignoring him.
I glanced at my wife (she’s gorgeous, I spend a fair amount of time looking at her) and it occurred to me how different we are. I love escapist literature—fantasy and science-fiction in particular—and she does not. She finds it strange, has trouble suspending disbelief when she sees how unrealistic it is. Look at Beyond Redemption where people’s delusions manifest as reality; that’s crazy! It’s so ridiculously unrealistic that she finds it difficult to read.
Why is that?
Where I grew up in a world where Santa and his ilk were all very real, she did not. She knew it was her father who brought the presents on Christmas. Where I awoke once a year to find chocolate hidden about the house (and would still be finding those chocolates hidden a little too well months later), she did not. There was never an Easter Bunny. No one collected her teeth and left money under the pillow.
Where my parents read Lord of the Rings to me as a young child, hers did not.
How much did these differences shape the adults we became?
My employment history looks like the random wanderings of a schizophrenic. I’ve flipped burgers, been a short-order cook at a pub, hung out the window of a Cessna at one thousand feet doing aerial photography. I’ve done front-of-house sound for over ten thousand bands, and Produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered countless albums. I ran a mobile recording studio, worked in another as an in-house engineer, and played guitar in a gothic metal band. I’ve written web content for lawyers, boutique butcheries, corporate coaches, software companies, and multi-national engineering and manufacturing firms. I’ve been employed, unemployed, self-employed, and self-unemployed. I went to university to study philosophy and dropped out after a year and a half to drop acid, smoke pot, and drink beer. I went to college to study audio-engineering and dropped out just before graduation because I’d landed a regular gig mixing bands for $50 a night. I wrote 70,000 words of a fantasy novel back in the mid 90s and gave up with no real reason. I also wrote several short stories and did nothing with them. Twenty years later I rewrote one (Intellectual Property) and sold it to Interzone in the UK. I grew up being told I could be whatever I wanted, though my parents neglected to mention how much work was involved and I’m a little slow.
My wife went to college to become a pharmacy technician, graduated with honours, and became a pharmacy technician. As a child she learned the importance of a good income and wise investments (she’d purchased a condo before we even met). She is why we own a house. She is why I can bash away at this mad dream of being a writer.
That night as we put our daughter’s tooth under the pillow and I explained how the Tooth Fairy’s magic worked, I wondered what I was doing to my child. I don’t pretend that what kind of person she turns out to be is up to me, but I suspect I have some influence. I know she will do and be whatever she wants. Maybe she’ll pursue the arts but do it far more intelligently than I. Whatever choice she makes I will back her with all my heart.
That said, what kind of person do I want her to be?
Knowing my own struggles and the difficulties one faces when choosing a non-standard life-path—and let’s pretend it was a choice rather than a meandering path I stumbled along while fleeing responsibility—I hesitate to promote that to my daughter. Would she not be better off with regular employment and a reliable source of income? I want her to know security. I want her to be able to vacation in the tropics instead of Brantford. I want her to know a stability I never had.
But then I wonder, would I be happy with an office job? Could I even keep one? Do I really give a shit that all-inclusive vacations at five-star resorts are usually beyond my means? How much do I love daydreaming and writing? Would I be willing to give all this up?
Back I come to the Tooth Fairy and Santa. My daughter flat out asked me if the Tooth Fairy was real. I stalled and distracted her. I’m not sure I can lie and yet I want her to have some magic in her life. Even if I don’t believe in magic, I love the idea; I miss it.
What would you do? What do you tell your children? Is magic and fantasy an important part of childhood? Do your small children believe in Santa? If your five year old asks for the truth, what will you say?
About Michael R. Fletcher:
Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, Beyond Redemption, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by HARPER Voyager in 2015.
His début novel, 88, a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for their brains, was released by Five Rivers Publishing in 2013.
The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror’s Truth, and The All Consuming, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.
Michael is represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
About Beyond Redemption:
Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.
Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.
But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.
As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:
Who will rule there?