Committing to write 50,000 words (about 200 pages) for last November's Novel Writing Month was exciting, a bit daunting, and novel (ha!). Storytelling using cards as prompts was something I wanted to try. It would be fun! What did I have to lose, other than every single minute of time not allotted to teaching, eating, sleeping?
November 1st: on your mark, get set, go!
|Tarot of Jane Austen|
What I didn't anticipate was the exhilaration that would bubble up when I solved a sticky plot point. Nor did I realize how much I would learn, researching where my protagonist would go next and why.
The sensation was much like planning an exotic trip: the must see locations, where to stay, which restaurants, how to get from one place to another, flight schedules, performance venues, what was the weather like, the vegetation and wildlife?
The first villain my protagonist ran into was this guy. Before he could decapitate her with his pointy shovels...
|All Hallows Tarot|
this woman swooped to the rescue! She reminds me so much of Serafina Pekkala in Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. The setting felt Russian-y to me, so...
|StoryWorld Cards, Tales from the Haunted House|
that's where this kind witch flew our heroine. (Did you know that it's VERY COLD flying on a broom high over the Atlantic?) Near the city of Syktyvkar in Russia is a formation of stone pillars known as the Manpupuner, or Seven Strong Men. The smallest of these giants is 98 feet (30 metres) tall. There Sophie met these two; challenges ensued (of course!).
|Wild KuanYin Oracle|
The second round of cards brought a beautiful cockatoo, so it was off to Australia next, where...
|StoryWorld cards, Create a Story Kit|
Sophie, our protagonist, is introduced to this desperate, caged, misunderstood creature. With the help of a few new Aussie friends, she devises a way to rescue the she-beast and reintroduce her into the wild, which leads us to...
|The Heart of Faerie Oracle|
the small Australian city of Katoomba, where a glass-topped railway car drops its passengers 1000 meters (over half a mile) into the rainforest of the Jamison Valley. A Jurassic rainforest, no less! While in Katoomba, tourists gaze at a rock formation called the Three Sisters, which grow up from the valley floor.
Back in North America, in a fictitious attempt to save a beautiful old Sarasota FL home, I was googling various ideas and learned that the first wave of Chinese immigration into the US came during the gold rush in 1849. And soon after that, during difficult financial times after the Civil War when thousands were competing for low-level jobs just to make ends meet, a giant backlash against Chinese workers swept the US. It was particularly fierce in California. And in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by the US government, putting an end to any immigration from China until it was finally repealed in 1943. I had no idea.
|"Young Aristocrats," Pictures of Old Chinatown, by |
Arnold Genthe, 1908.
There were many more cards and jigs and jogs in the road between the nasty shovel-man and Sophie's final trek home. By the time November 30 arrived both she and I were relieved to be safely back; it was an exhilarating exhausting roller coaster of a month!
My advice? If someone ever hands you a mysterious stack of cards, pack your bags and prepare to take flight!