WARNING! This post might contain spoilers for my next novelette… or it might not. I’m not sure yet. But if you’re spoiler-sensitive, you might want to look away now.
Queen of the May is the story of a young woman stolen away by faeries who has to find her way back to the human world. I can’t say I was thinking I’d be writing faerie stories, but here we are with a fully fledged faerie realm and an unwilling human abductee who has to work out from first principles how the faerie magic works and how to use it to get home.
Of course, if I want my heroine to make sound, reasoned decisions based on the information she has available to her, I need to know just how the faerie realm works. And this is where the questions start.
Firstly, what species of faerie are we talking about? The dainty, winged Cottingley Fairies? The beautiful and fair-haired Tylwyth Teg of Wales? The human-sized, malicious elves of Pratchett’s Lords & Ladies who live in Fairyland? (Which then raises the question of whether elves are a subspecies of fairy?) Shakespeare’s meddling and incompetent Oberon? Any one of dozens of other species? Or even an entirely new fae species previously and heretofore unknown to man?
Once we’ve established the species, which is not necessarily easy, that raises even more questions.
- How does faerie magic work?
- What happens if faeries use too much magic?
- How does time pass in Faerie? Is Faerie one realm or are there many different Fairylands? What’s its relationship with the human world?
- Do faeries get sick? Does germ theory work in Faerie? If they do get sick can they die or are they immortal?
- What the hell do faeries do all day, when they aren’t meddling in the affairs of man?
- What’s the relationship between faeries and the humans they steal away? And what on earth do they put in their place? Another faerie? What’s so valuable about a human that you’re willing to dump one of your own in a strange and hostile world?
- Do faeries build houses? Where do they live? Do they wash?
- What do faeries talk about over dinner? What are the politics of Faerie? Are there dissenters? Subversives? What would a faerie subversive be subverting?
- Do faeries have sex? If not, where do the faerie babes used as changelings come from? If so, how come the place isn’t crawling with faeries? Do they have some sort of magical equivalent to family planning?
It’s at times like this that I feel less like an author and more like an ethnographer.
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