Sunday, June 27, 2010

When Magical Realism becomes Too Real

I don't know about other writers who dabble in the magical realism genre, but when real world events are more bizarre than magical realism,things get a bit scary.
As  magical realism authors we create  alternative realities, even though they happen in real time and in real place.  But now, with all the global shaking going on, egged on by human failure to keep up or manage our own technology, the planet and its inhabitants are plunged into a world stage even a magical realism author could not imagine.
Warning us all  - there are some things too big to ignore.
So I have scuttled my final plot line for my second novel in the Shaman series, Shaman in Exile and am rewriting the final chapters after a long hiatus.  So much has happened in real life which impacts the characters of Shaman Circus.  Afterall, for a Haitian voudou practitioner, a Haitian hermaphrodite (who features more in the second Shaman Book) and a host of characters who are  residents of New Orleans, and remain after Katrina, I can't ignore the actual real world events, even though Shaman in Exile takes place in New England and France and not in New Orleans like in Shaman Circus.
But now with the oil spill in the Gulf, following close on the heels of the earthquakes, my main character Jacob LaGuerre, will not allow me to ignore these major catastrophes which affect his family and friends.  So I'm having to rework the final concept and have decided not to have Shaman in Exile the final book in the series.  My original concept would be trite and unbelievable in the light of these recent disasters.
Besides Jacob won't stand for me pretending they didn't happen. He has too much to do and say in regards to both Haiti and Louisiana to let me escape with a simple closure.  To him it's turning a blind eye.  And that he will not allow.
So I've been writing, and I have to say, it's a painful process even as it's great to be back in the Shaman landscape - but I had hopes of happier times for my characters after all I've put them through.
But alas, as it often happens in life, those hopes are sidestepped by unexpected events.  I had also previously planned to avoid my favorite approach to endings as a cliff hanger or ambiguous ending.  I've received both praise and critiques for my preferred modus operendi.  And this time,  I was going to cut my characters some slack and let them have a a nice tidy closure after all the chaos they've endured. 
But world events proved more powerful than my good intentions.  So now it's back to the intricate work of trying to tidy things up while also paying heed to the "realism" aspect of the genre and facing the unfortunate facts.


  1. I received numerous emails and such regarding my cliffhanger. Readers wanted closure for the good guy Chase and not leave him hanging. So I added the first seven chapters of my next book in the trilogy to close out Breakthrough. I still left open enough unresolved conflict so the reader will want to return to read the next book.

    Stephen Tremp

  2. Stephen:
    This is a great suggestion. I've been caught in this dilemma for months and coulnd't see a viable way to satisfy the reader, ut your suggestion makes it possible. Thanks so much!


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