Pulling a Fantasy from Reality
View of Bailey Island near The Giant Staircase
By Simonhardt93 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
During the summer, I received the suggestion to write a Young Adult novella or novel. I think it came from my family. What spurred the idea was that we were visiting Harry Potter World and were surrounded by J.K. Rowling’s magical world. I guess my family thought: Mimi can do this, too!
Mimi is my granny name. It’s what his grandsons call me.
“Mimi, you could be the next J.K. Rowling.”
Tl which, Frankie Blaine might say, “Not hardly.”
But, still, the suggestion took root and that was followed almost immediately by a memory.
For many summers, when my sister Diane and I were growing up, we would visit my Dad’s second cousin, a woman named Agnes. She had a summer place at Bailey Island, Maine. We didn’t have a lot of money in those days. We weren’t poor, but every penny counted. Our vacations usually were visits to family members.
And so, we were lucky that Aunt Agnes’ husband had built his family a log cabin on the island. Let me explain that. Yes, it was a log cabin. It was made of logs, which were not only visible on the outside but also on the inside. But for a cabin it was HUGE. It had a country kitchen, an enormous living room with a breakfast nook, two bedrooms and a bath upstairs, downstairs a bedroom, a bathroom with a shower stall, and a dormitory. Yes, a dormitory containing (I swear) 6 sets of bunk beds and a dressing room. Over the big stone fireplace in the living room was the mounted head of an elk. (Sorry, animal lovers. Someone in Aunt Agnes’ family must have been a hunter.) As if all that were not enough, the cabin wing off the living room. It was a small suite: bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom.
The cabin had a big stretch of lawn in front that led to the waters of Casco Bay. What a wonderland that was for two kids from suburbia! Raspberry bushes were just steps from the kitchen and we picked berried for our breakfast. Beyond the raspberry bushes was Mary’s Cove, a stretch of sand and stone leading to the water. I can’t find Mary’s Cove on today’s online maps. I think the name must have been local. As a young girl, I thought it was romantic and wondered who Mary possibly could be. (Even then I was making up stories.)
On the other side of the cabin was a dirt trail, bordered by wild blueberry bushes. The trail led to two other cabins built by Aunt Agnes’ late husband. Other family members stayed in them, including twin girls with whom we made friends.
Directly in front of the property, past the sea wall, were large rocks, rough-hewn by the waves from Casco Bay. We used to play in the tidal pools for hours.
During the summer it was chill in the mornings, so we’d have to throw on our sweatshirts. When the sun shone it could get quite warm and we then tossed the sweatshirts off. In the evening it would be chilly again and we’d light a big fire in the fireplace and play board games, cards, or talk.
It was a perfect place to be a child at a time when children were free-range. “Go outside and play,” my mother would say. “Janet, put that radio down. Don’t come back until lunchtime.” When I entered my teens, a transistor radio and a couple of teen magazines were my only contact with my pop heroes for two or three weeks. But since you didn’t argue with my mom, I went outside. And my sister and I played and used our imaginations.
And then came the night when we heard something strange. My sister and I both heard it. It sounded like a footstep followed by a thump. Footstep. Thump. Footstep. Thump. It went all the way around the cabin. My mother heard it, too. She was sleeping in the bunkroom with my father (not terribly romantic for them).
What was that sound? None of us knew. My mother postulated that it was an old pirate with a peg leg. If so, why was he walking around the cabin? Our questions remain unanswered.
Do you see what is happening? My own life has given me a setting, some characters, and a mystery. What shall I do with it? It has the seeds of becoming a YA fantasy, doesn’t it? We’ll see what develops. I would like to have something ready to publish by the end of 2019.
I fully believe that inspiration can come from anywhere.
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder