My guest today is the phenomenal Leslea “Red” Tash. I’ve known her out there in meatland for years, and we’ve continued our friendship here where reality is virtuous. I mean virtual. She very kindly agreed to do an A-to-Z post for me, simultaneously promoting her new short story, which I have read (free copy) and enjoyed. My having started taking an exercise class was in no way influenced by this story. It was not.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Tash.
W is for Why Wizards?
by Red Tash
Greetings, Earthlings, and all interstellar/cross-dimensional readers tuning in. I am transmitting to you live (at least, at the time of this writing) from my 100% non-magical, highly-Mugglized abode in Southern Indiana. But not for long. Soon, I’ll be decked out in my first set of wizarding robes, as I’m off to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I can’t wait to see if they’ll actually let me into Ravenclaw Common Room. Of course I’ll answer whatever riddle necessary, first.
Many thanks to Marian for hosting me today on my short-but-sweet blog tour in support of my short-but-sweet new story The Wizard Takes a Fitness Class. Why would a wizard take a fitness class, you ask? Have you ever tried to exorcise a demon? Sometimes it’s just easier to exercise with them. Or is it? Go have a read, if you’d like. I’ll just be here blogging, ’til you get back.
So, Marian’s doing that April Alphabetic blogging thang, and I’m giving her the day off while I manhandle the letter W into something more comfortable. How about something pointy with little moons and stars on its hat?
Maybe I’ve just got Disney magic on my mind because we’ll be visiting that Florida landmark, as well, for the first time. Even more magical (for me), before we get to squeeze into our very-muggle-minivan, a sextet of silliness-seekers? I should have completed edits on my second full-length novel, as well! It’s my plan to basically hit the email “send” button to my editor, then go running out the front door! I should be shiny like a cheap Fourth of July sparkler by the time we make our getaway. Just watch for the streak of fire racing from Indiana to Florida, sometime in the last days of April. Red’s Comet, I think it’ll be called. Whoosh-zoom!
But back to the Wizard. Why wizards? And why wizards in everyday locales, like fitness classes or drive-in theaters?
The first Wizard Tale was written in two emails to my husband, just for fun. I was taking a break from editing This Brilliant Darkness, and instead of surfing the web or clocking into Facebook for the eighth time that day, I wrote the first half of a story so short, some readers consider it flash fiction. (One could argue that all wizarding fiction is “flash fiction,” but until one has experienced the whizbangs of exploding fairy fanmail, one might not get the joke.)
To be totally, 100% honest, I never intended to write and publish wizard stories at all. I don’t know where the Wizard came from. I just opened up Word, and there he was. In the first Wizard Tale, I was a channeling a combination of Gandalf, Dumbledore, and some random hippie. I didn’t think much about his background, at all, and I didn’t even give him a name. I formatted the story and uploaded it to Amazon and Smashwords just for practice. I set the book’s price as “free” through all possible channels, and eventually Amazon followed suit, as part of their price-matching.
Several thousand downloads later, the comments have been overwhelmingly positive about the sweet little short. One day, a message from an old high school chum showed up on my FB wall. “When will there be a full-length Wizard book?” he asked. I laughed then, and I laughed again now, just typing it.
Why would anyone want a Wizard book? I mean, I get why people want Harry Potter, why they want Lord of the Rings. But why a book-length version of my Wizard? I’m still dealing with that request. Perhaps there is a Wizard book somewhere in me somewhere, once all is said and done. It would certainly explain that stubborn spare tire across my middle. “Honey, it’s not baby weight. It’s that damned Wizard book!”
Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball, and my skill with tea leaves is as bad as Trelawny’s. I don’t know if I will eventually turn the Wiz into anything more than short story fodder or not. Not wanting to disappoint my friend and fan, I settled for writing another Wizard story. The first one only took 20 minutes to write, so the next one wouldn’t be any trouble, right?
Well, I sifted through the reviews of the first Wizard. Readers overwhelmingly asked for more from me. More background, more drama, a bigger conflict…more connection. Emotional gravitas, even. “Okay, okay,” I realized. “Maybe I can write something just a tad longer.”
What I learned was not dissimilar to the lesson dear Bilbo Baggins has in The Hobbit. When one opens the door to a Wizard, one escapes to magic, adventure, and a whole lotta unexpected friends. Gandalf didn’t step into Bag End all by his lonesome, and neither does our mysterious Wizard go solo in this latest tale. Oh, no. He has a nemesis. He meets a kind young Village People cliché, transgendered yoga students, and kung fu zombies. Hey, a demon even shows his face. Our wizard comes bearing only a staff, but he in no way is traveling light.
And because I was ready, I suppose, the Wizard revealed more of himself to me in this second “date.” Where the first Wizard Tale was lighter and fluffier, this second one is more meaningful in tone, and about so much more than monsters and satire and 1980s music, despite its inclusion of all the above. No, the Wizard had more on his mind this time. The Wizard may have been wandering aimlessly, but that didn’t stop him from arriving at the bullseye of Regret. Personal demons like pride and arrogance are a heavy weight.
Oh, that Wizard may not be as nice as he once looked, after all.
The more he spilled, the more I realized “Hey, I gotta do this right.” It took a few gut-wrenching weeks of editing, but I feel really good about how the story shook out. I believe this Wizard Tale has everything my readers wanted, and it leaves them craving even more. At the same time, it turned out to be a great exorcism for a few of my own demons—but I’ll allow that stuff to remain between the lines, where it belongs.
Why wizards, indeed. I can’t wait to see where he takes me, next time.
Thanks, Leslea! Here’s that link again: The Wizard Takes a Fitness Class. Enjoy.
Oh, and don’t forget that my short story collection TURTLE FEATHERS is free on Friday!
ALSO, I’m blogging today over at Camille Minichino’s place, so drop by and say hey. 🙂
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What is your main character’s personal demon?