In the Night Garden . . . a fantasy
I’m a fantasy writer and it was perhaps inevitable that I chose that genre. Although perhaps more correctly, the genre chose me. If I look back to childhood, I can see that fantasy and fairytale always played a huge role in my reading and my thinking and play-acting. As a teenager I moved elsewhere, historical fiction mostly. But then in my twenties I went to Southeast Asia and as I was travelling on my own, I thought I needed a good book for the single seat in restaurants and on planes (you know, so that people would leave me alone). I took The Lord Of the Rings Trilogy. Which sort of took care of my excess baggage and companionship, after all I had Frodo et al to stave off lonliness.
I loved the books. On the flight from Sydney to Hongkong (a longish flight) I hardly looked up from the page, except to watch with amazement as we edged between columns of apartments, over lines of laundry and almost into people’s rooms on our descent into the old Kaitak Airport. From Hongkong to Bangkok ditto. Through Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore . . . page after page, although let it be said I did take time out to visit temples and museums, villages and markets, islands and rivers. In Bali I lay by the pool whilst Frodo and Sam were in diabolical trouble. Bali to Perth was a long flight . . . as was the flight from Perth to Sydney, Melbourne and then Hobart. By the time I got home I was done and my childhood love of fantasy had truly grown up. I am picky, mind you! I only read myth and legend-based fantasy now and have a small list of favoured authors. However as a writer, I only read one or two fantasies a year, preferring to read outside the genre . . . there is that thing they call unconscious plagiarism.
But the other day whilst TV channel-surfing, I came across In the Night Garden, a BBC children’s programme and suddenly I had reverted to true infant fantasy . . . the wonder of childhood: paucity of word, simplicity of plot, descriptive scenes and characters that endear themselves by their actions. I was enthralled, trying to analyse my own fascination. In the process, I figured that amongst the audience of In the Night Garden, there are future fantasy readers. And the message from the adventures of Upsy Daisy, Macca Pacca, Iggle Piggle and so on, is that simplicity is the key: a quest, daring-do, revelation and resolution where all end up as better characters.
Pretty fascinating really that the recipe for infant TV fantasy could also be the recipe for adult fantasy fiction. I must think on it more. Back to the TV!