When reading about faerieland (fairyland), we often get so wrapped up in the stories that we can’t (or choose not to) even think about the parents of faerieland runaways. The parents are baggage that has been thrown off so that we can soar the heights with Pan, swim the depths of tears with Alice, or conquer witches with the Pevensies.
What about the poor parents of wandering children? What keeps them from loss of mind and facilities? What keeps the parents from entering into the tale of their children to rescue them? In the story (with a lengthy title), The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making the author, Catherynne M. Valente, tells us that parents of Fairyland runaways are not cross with their children when the children return, because they know they have been to fairyland. [paraphrased]
Okay, but in the meantime what about the parents? What happens to them? What of their hearts? What loving parent wouldn’t be out of their mind trying to find their child?
When creating tales, as authors, we shouldn’t just think about the action within the tale. What of the action without the tale? It is our job to understand our tale’s affect on those not directly involved. I like the Wizard of Oz in this case, Dorothy was absent; she was missed. Her absence created a hole in the lives of her aunt and uncle, it wasn’t filled until she returned.
Unlike Oz, the Pevensies’ were not missed. There was no stir from their disappearance. Their outside world is virtually gone from mind and reality. Sadly, this is sort of a copout. It makes the real world disappear, in order to create a fairyland that works. It shouldn’t have to be so. An author should be able to hold both existences in tandem. The author should be able to show the effects of a runaway’s disappearance and still communicate the tale without destroying the main point. While it isn’t perfect Oz does do an adequate job of handling this tension between the Faerie and the Real.
What we do with those outside of the tale is as important as those inside, because it brings a bit of reality into Faerie. That reality only grounds the tale and thus allows the reader to not break out of the tale with questions like: what are the parent’s feeling, do the parents/guardians even know, or do they even care. By bringing in the feelings or actions of those the runaway has left behind we can answer some important questions while allowing the tale to move forward and placing the runaway’s real life in a reality.
If you’re interested in my own fairytales check out: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon. It is only the beginning, but every tale has to have one.