Escape. I love the etymology of this word because of the picture it conjures. Escape comes from the Latin ex + cappa. Cappa means head covering or cloak. I envision the cloaked figure glancing back over his (or her?) shoulder before slipping into the shadows to get away from approaching footsteps. Already my mind is conjuring a story to go with this mysterious figure. Escape.
We do our escape acts all the time – usually minus the cloak. There are seasons and reasons to escape. After a long day in the real world, we settle down to an iPad or DVD or CD or book in whatever format, and we escape for a few hours. In general all stories can be a form of escape. In particular the Paranormal can be an escape if we need time off from the Normal.
But for me, reading and writing Paranormal is not escape. I walk through the wardrobe in order to return with a shield of courage and a sword of insight. When I choose to write fantasy, it’s because I want to explore human nature in a setting that exposes and challenges the raw basics, the depth and breadth of life. For me that’s best done in a world where the rules are different. The world of the Paranormal wakes us up, forces us to think, keeps us on our toes. You can’t take a fantasy world for granted.
The Paranormal allows us to cross barriers, to go beyond, to challenge taken-for-granted beliefs. The Para serves to shake us and shock us out of our ruts so we can grasp truths we may not see otherwise. We humans need to cross barriers, to go beyond, to be challenged. We need to attempt the impossible, even if only in our imagination.
And sometimes what we imagine comes to pass. I once read that in 1900, people scoffed at the idea that New York City might grow to contain even a million people. Why? Because there were not enough stables to stall all the horses they would need. People in 1900 couldn’t imagine streets filled with cars. But somebody imagined it. When I was growing up, the comic strip character Dick Tracy wore a watch he could talk into – a marvelous, imaginary device back then, but not curious at all now. A few months ago, I Skyped my son in L.A. at the same time his father-in-law from Japan Skyped in on another laptop. My son turned the two laptops to face each other, and we had a spontaneous three-way conversation – which is amazing to a person who didn’t grow up with computers. Those of you who did, are yawning. Right?
So sometimes the Para becomes Normal. If our imaginations DARE. Sometimes we DARE only in books. Sometimes we DARE because of books. Next blog: The Dare and the Otherwise.
Meanwhile . . . Happy Reading! Happy Writing!
© 2013 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy morguefile.com