The Ink Splat is our monthly activity letter filled with inspiration sparking challenges and resources guaranteed to inspire your creativity. In this Ink Splat, the book and author spotlighted is Found Things By Marilyn Hilton along with an author interview! Submit a response to a challenge and you may have a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?
The Challenge: Finding Magic
For this month’s challenge, write a story set in the real world that encompasses some sort of magical element. This isn’t a fantasy story set in another world or a time, but one in which everything is realistic, except for this one element.
Submit your response HERE.
Do a little digging:
When you weave magic into an otherwise normal story, it’s important to make those details as realistic as possible. Try researching a very specific location, even draw it from an image, and use that as your setting. Think of what elements of it you can make magical.
Found Things By Marilyn Hilton
When eleven-year-old River’s brother disappears, River begins talking like no one else she knows and dreams of a house she’s never visited. When an enigmatic new girl comes to town, mysteries gather like the treasures River finds on the shore, and compel her to reveal their secrets.
About the BOOK:
Q: There are a lot of references to nature in your character’s names. What inspired them?
A: Found Things takes place in a New England town based on a town in grew up in. It’s in the country and has lots of places for walking and biking. There are mountains nearby and forests and lakes and rivers, and the leaves change to brilliant colors in the fall. At night you can see millions of stars in the sky. So, I remembered this place when I wrote Found Things.
About the PROCESS:
Q: What are the important themes and/or messages young readers can take away from this story? you have a favorite moment or scene in the book?
A: Although I didn’t set out to give a message in Found Things, I think there are several things that readers can take away from the story. Here are some of them: Always have something to hope for, because it will keep you reaching. Make friends with people who don’t fit in, because sometimes they’re the most interesting people. You’re stronger than a bully. Forgive people who’ve wronged you, because it will give you peace. And don’t stop believing in miracles! They’re all around–you
only have to look for them.
Q: There seems to be a good deal of paranormal aspects in this book. What challenges come with putting fantasy elements in a story rooted in the real world?
A: I like to believe there’s more to this world than what our five senses can perceive to fit, and I like my writing to leave the door open to greater possibilities. This is why I love to write (and read) magical realism stories, which are grounded in the physical world but have elements of possibility above and beyond this world. A magical realism story is like looking at a picture that’s slightly blurred—the lines and boundaries aren’t clearly defined, yet you know the photo was taken of something that exists. One challenge of writing Found Things in this way was to be able to present people and events that could both logically and supernaturally happen. For example, Meadow Lark is a bit of a mystery. I purposely didn’t tie up her story neatly because I wanted readers to decide for themselves who she was.
Q: Was it difficult writing from the perspective of a child?
A: Someone once told me that if you don’t know what to write, toss your heart in the air. Where it lands is what you should be writing. My heart often lands in the middle-grade place, which I think is because that was the time in my life that held the most wonder and awe, when my imagination was its wildest, and my heart was most open to all life’s possibilities. It was also a time of learning and relearning, and seeing things differently than only a few years earlier. So, writing from River’s point of view was not only not difficult, but joyful.
About the AUTHOR:
A: I do like mysteries, especially cozy mysteries (the kind with no blood). And I really admire people who can write a good mystery novel, because they have to keep track of so many threads yet keep the reader guessing to the very end.
Q: Any advice for young writers?
A: My advice would be to write something every day, even if it’s only 100 words. Writing takes courage, so try not to be discouraged. Surround yourself with other people who like to write and encourage each other. Write because it gives you joy or because you want to figure something out or because it helps you out of a dark place. But don’t write solely for any outside rewards, because you have no control over them. What you have control over is what you write and how often you do it. Let your writing be genuine—from your true self. This is scary because it makes you vulnerable, but when your heart connects with a reader’s heart, then your story becomes alive and is complete.
Thanks again Marilyn!!