GUEST POST: Leslye Walton talks about magical realism and “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender”
After I read the gorgeous The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender (see my review here), I really wanted to tell everyone about this enchanting unique story and I was therefore thrilled to welcome when Leslye Walton agreed to write a guest post for Library Mice.
Magical Realism & The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye Walton
I’ve always found it easy to suspend disbelief. If my younger sister hadn’t questioned the existence of Narnia when she was six, I would have continued waiting for the back of my closet to sprout a magical doorway well into my teenaged years. That seemed delightfully plausible in my mind. Even now as an adult, it’s common for me to escape into my own world during car trips and conversation lulls. Perhaps this is why my stories contain bizarre characters that transform themselves into birds, or can detect different emotions from a scent only they can smell.
When I started writing The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, I didn’t know I was writing magical realism; I was just writing. I realized I wasn’t writing typical historical fiction, or an otherworldly fantasy novel when I discovered that this very ordinary girl I was writing about had a very extraordinary gift. While I’m no expert, I’m told that the secret to magical realism is to write in a way that your reader believes the real as much as the magic; you want the two worlds to weave together seamlessly. I think of it as a constant balancing act; I tend to fill my pages with some pretty remarkable characters, so I try to give them historical context and settings that are true to life—to counter the weird, so to speak.
When a reader questions the incredibility of these peculiar creatures of mine—which, let’s face it, is quite easy to do–I often wonder what they must think about all these peculiar creatures we face in real life. People surprise me all the time; they’re extraordinary, really. There are those who see words in colors, others who taste them! So, why can’t a person have wings? Why can’t they turn into a canary, or a lemur, or a blue monarch butterfly? I like to think they can. And hopefully, this little book of mine will make its way into the hands of readers who find that delightfully plausible.
Thank you so much, Leslye.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is out on Thursday (27th March) and is published by Walker Books.