Two posts in as many days? Unheard of! But I wanted to share the wonderful experience I had while researching agents to query–yes ‘wonderful’ and ‘query’ in the same sentence (I’ve moved on from feeling queasy about it, so it’s a good thing). In my research, I ran across Russell Galen (of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency) and learned the first book he’d ever sold as an agent was The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This was the book of my childhood.
It’s been nearly 20 years since last I read it, but I still have two copies on my bookshelf–the original tattered and worn paperback, a gift from my 6th grade teacher, which I read eight times in a row, and a barely touched hardback I keep around in case the other one disintegrates before I have a chance to read it again.
Hearing that Russell Galen had been involved in creating that book made me love him instantly. More importantly, I suddenly remembered why I’m a writer: Magic!
It was the magic of words and stories that made me start reading books like Charlotte’s Web (as soon as I’d covered the basics of See Spot Run, of course) and keep reading everything I could find in my elementary school library and then on my mother’s bookshelves at home. But it wasn’t until I picked up Mists of Avalon that I truly believed in magic.
It’s a retelling of the King Arthur story from the point of view the women, and the main character is Morgaine (aka Morgan Le Fay). I’d never read any Arthur stories, so I had no preconceptions. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon came to life for me as no other book before quite had. The characters were all so real and terribly sad, and in those pages I could feel the lost Atlantis described by Igraine, the heart-pounding exhilaration of the Wild Hunt and hear the bells of Glastonbury Isle before they magically vanished in the enshrouding mists of Avalon, another, older and richer world existing in parallel to this one but drifting apart from us, like the land of Fairy, and taking magic with it. At the end of that book, I believed. I knew the world had once been full of real magic, seers and magicians, and that now all we have is the faintest echo of what was.
When an author makes us believe so deeply in their world, if only for a short time, that’s real magic. And that’s why I wanted to become an author, to create amazing and affecting worlds and share those with others so they might believe in them too, if only for a while.
Thank you Marion Zimmer Bradley and Russell Galen. Thank you especially for reminding me, weary from years of writerly toil and bogged down in the midst of queries, what it’s all about. And thank you for rekindling that warmth of belief in my heart, for bringing back the magic.
Thanks for reading! More posts on books, film, and writing can be found on my website at Lorel Clayton Author.