- An Atlas (though bearing in mind it is a magical realm you're visiting, the maps are also magical and are known to play tricks on the unwary such as disappearing off the page just as you turn to that page and so on. The secret here is not to be put off and the maps will come back).
- The Fairy Kingdom's Highway Code as all, whether they fly on broomsticks or other vehicles or remain as pedestrians, have rules that specifically apply to them and you do need to know what these are.
- The Classic Fairytales of Hans Christen Andersen, Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm etc. These are considered as near-sacred in the Fairy Kingdom and everyone knows the tales well. To fit in (and avoid causing unwitting offence) you need to know them too.
- The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This is a must read for all fantasy fans and is very funny. Whatever the magical realm, all the principles in here apply.
- The Good Hospitality Guide. This is issued annually and all the Fairy Kingdom towns and villages that offer any kind of hospitality from hostels to small hotels are listed in here. They are rated by stars as our own guides on Earth are but the stars here indicate the likelihood of you (a) surviving the night and (b) then going on to actually enjoy your stay. You don't want to stay in any place which has a 1 star guide for either of these two points.
Unlike here on Earth, letter writing is alive and well in the Fairy Kingdom. The magical world looks with horror at our emails and memos (thinking them to be soulless).
They like the feel of proper paper. The less lazy actually physically write. The actually lazy cast a spell to make the pen write for them and they dictate the words. (The Queen and L'Evallier tend to use a spell for this once they have had enough of physical writing for the day. They've usually cast this spell by 10 am by which time they have already gone through a mountain of mail).
The higher the rank the magical being the more likely it is they will write regularly. Sprites, right at the bottom of the scale, tend to scribble odd notes to one another now and again (usually to organize when the next fight will take place).
The Queen enjoys writing replies to the letters she receives from her subjects. She never sees the odd abusive one (usually written by a disgruntled witch or a drunken sprite in a fit of bravado) as her staff in the Palace mail room make sure of that. She replies to as many as possible personally and others she dictates to her chief lady in waiting.
L'Evallier is good on replying to queries from his own constituents and species. Any letters he receives from, say, a dwarf he passes on to the Chief Dwarf (usually because the letter is very rude and he knows his colleague will deal with this appropriately. While there generally is harmony in the magical realm, there is still latent racism between certain species. It is accepted this will never be got rid of altogether but it can be disapproved of in no uncertain terms and this is done).
Letter writing then is considered a noble tradition and is unlikely to end here.
Towards the end of 2015, I took a short on line distance learning course based on 6 of the stories from Hans Christian Andersen. It was the first time I'd tried any on line course.
It was huge fun. As well as studying the stories in detail (and a couple of them were new to me, so those were a delight to discover), I think my favourite aspect was the engaging with other students. The discussion forums were thoughtful and I learned a great deal from them. Some of the points raised would never have occurred to me but made me look again at the stories in detail to see why the originator had come up with those points.
One story was studied per week and as well as looking at the text, there were video clips. They had a wonderful narrator with a real gift for storytelling and it was a joy to listen to her.
If another course is held on further stories by Andersen or the Brothers Grimm. I'd definitely try it. And I will keep a look out for other courses based on the writings of other writers. I wanted to try this particular course to see if I could do it and was so pleased I did. The biggest thing I think it did for me was to give me a deeper appreciation of just what a talented writer Hans Christian Andersen was. There are more layers to his tales than it appears at first and the in depth study helped bring that out.
I'm Allison Symes and I write novels, short stories as well as some scripts and poems. I love setting my work in my magical world, the Fairy Kingdom, and my favourite character is Eileen, who believes hypocrisy is something that happens to other people without caring that statement is hypocritical in itself! Eileen is huge fun to write for and about.