- You will be enchanted by a friendly looking crone. If you are really lucky the curse on you will be broken, you will be restored to your true self and you will inevitably go on to live happily ever after. That is just how things work in the magical world. If, however, you are unlucky, you will die.
- You will be locked into some deep underground cavern by someone claiming to be your uncle. If lucky you will find a magic lamp, discover the genie living in it and get out of the cavern. If unlucky, the uncle will have found the magic lamp and you will be left to your fate.
- You will try to use a spinning wheel because you like needlework and crafts in general but end up going into a deep sleep because you were unaware the thing had been cursed by an irate fairy godmother who hadn't been invited to some wedding or other.
Fairy Kingdom dwellings range from caves to hobbit holes to houses as we know them up to the Queen's Palace.
Generally speaking the smaller the magical species the smaller the home. Nobody likes cleaning anything more than they have to do regardless of what world they're on and whether they use magic to assist with housework or not.
The Palace is the largest private dwelling in the realm. The Chief Witch's magnificent (by her standards) home is not much smaller and it is believed the only reason she did not outdo her fairy rival was to avoid any magical confrontation the Witch herself hadn't forced on the Queen.
The Palace also has the biggest collection of fine furniture, portraits, jewellery, porcelain, gold and silver objects anywhere in the realm and would rival most places on Earth comfortably too. There is no way the Fairy Queen is opening her Palace to the general public on the grounds there is far too much of value to put at risk so "spotty herberts" can tour the place. Nor can the Queen be bothered to put in a safe place the more valuable items. Still she has put a curse on each of her most prized possessions. You steal from this woman at your own risk.
Well, actually, it doesn't!
The Kingdom is usually happy for its own to visit other worlds as it has pinched several good ideas from these places and then used them for its own ends. But it does not like the idea of visitors coming to it and pinching ideas from them!
There are weak places between dimensions where it is easier to cross through. In the Kingdom these are guarded night and day by elite, fairy squad trained, fairies. There is no chance of anyone drifting through by accident as they are turned around and sent on their way.
Anyone transporting in via other means (say via a large phone box which is massive on the inside, when compared to the outside) is usually bombarded by magic until they get the message they're not welcome and fly off again.
Visiting other worlds is not something the Queen and her government encourage. It tends to give people ideas. It certainly gave Eileen plenty. And her example is not considered to be a good one.
The Fairy News Network like broadcasting reports from other worlds when they are occasionally allowed to go with the fairy squad as they go about their missions. Their reports, it is strictly understood, have to focus on the necessity of the mission, the bravery of the squad and definitely not the virtues of the planet being visited.
Fresdian, that great wildlife enthuasist, has a totally different attitude. Indeed when she is sent to Earth, where she changes her name to Rose, one of her favourite things to do is to get out and about and explore the native flora and fauna.
When confined indoors she enjoys sketching what she has seen or would like to see first hand. To date she has yet to see a kingfisher live and she refuses to use magic to help her here. She considers it cheating. Eileen considers her soppy for having that attitude. If she needs magic to help her out, Eileen will just use it and have done.
The Fairy Kingdom shares in common with Earth a tendency to catch colds but this is about it. Norovirus, flu and so on are unknown here. When Eileen defected, there was concern expressed about what diseases she'd be likely to pick up but she has had nothing amiss. Jenny is not so fortunate - she does get any illness doing the rounds.
The Kingdom looks down on humanity for its weaknesses, including its weakness to sicknesses of all kinds, but it also respects those who nurse and tend the ill. The general belief is that humans are at their best when caring for each other properly. It also thinks we're at our best when trying to investigate and cure diseases.
Witches and wizards will sometimes curse someone with an Earth based illness but this is usually done when they want to discipline one of their followers who have stepped out of line. It means the followers don't die and the suffering is deemed to be enough.
The majority of the Fairy Kingdom peoples receive their information about other worlds purely from the Fairy News Network.
Eileen's books on other worlds are kept strictly in the Palace library and people have to apply to read them. Their names are then taken, for the records. This tends to put people off reading the books, which was the idea.
As for FNN their rules for broadcasting about other worlds are:-
The Fairy News Network does broadcast some arts programmes. This is mainly to keep Roherum quiet and to give him something to do outside of the news programme.
The programme that features paintings is called The Hanging Today Show, a title the Queen loathes, but it does show works from around the dimensions. She does enjoy seeing all the pictures and Roherum has carried out basic biographical research on the artists. She just wishes FNN would stop Roherum naming anything. He always goes for the lowest common denominator. Only the knowledge some of her subjects likes that prevents her intervention here. (She did ask one of her maids to send in an anonymous letter saying the title could relate to soft furnishings, especially curtains, but there was no reply or comment on this).
Books are covered by the Today's Story slot. This is a half hour programme and always features the reading of one classic fairy tale and an excerpt from fairy stories again from around the dimensions. Again there is basic biographical information about the writers. Roherum makes it clear what stories he likes and those he loathes. He tends to be biased against any story involving dwarfs. This has led to the dwarf community protesting but he thinks the publicity is all good for the network (and his bosses agree).
Fairy royal patronage doesn't work in quite the same way as it does on Earth. The Queen "patronizes" by attending events. She will occasionally give a well deserving artist a boost to their magical powers. She does not give out money or offer prizes in competitions.
Some of those artists will then use any boost to their magical powers in the production of their works, others produce art completely by hand and use the royal gift to help with life outside of their art. (Most artists are in debt, extra magical powers can come in handy here when dealing with bailiffs and so on).
The Queen feels her presence at galleries and libraries to support specific events is enough patronage to be going on with and, in any event, if you want patronizing, just listen to Roherum's commentaries on such royal visits. He really does have that down to a fine art form!
While not, as at the date of this blog, a member of any writing group, I can see the attraction of them and I imagine a well run one is a great support to any writer. The nearest I get is going to the Winchester Writers' Festival. Writers' Festival
There are a number of creative arts in the Fairy Kingdom but creative writing tends to function on fairytales and poetry. The cynical would include Roherum's attempts at journalism given he writes his own scripts but he has always rebutted this furiously, claiming his critics are jealous of his talents.
Poets in the Kingdom do gather together for mutual support and to find out what every other poet is up to. The Queen hosts an annual gathering in the Palace grounds with an informal buffet to follow readings of previously prepared works and a lovely time is had by all. But most creative groups get together informally - for example two or three villages within a certain radius of one another will get their poets to support their own libraries and those in these close by villages.
It doesn't matter what or where the dimension is, what or when the time or era is, what the world is like or how it is run, but every form of government issues publications. Some are excessive about it. Others just produce a few. All could do with making their style of writing less formal and easier to read but gobbledegook seems to be something all governments think it necessary to adopt. Perhaps they think it makes them seem more important. It doesn't.
My Fairy Kingdom issues its version of the Highway Code, guides to etiquettes amongst the various magical species, educational guidance notes to the schools, colleges and universities. There are standard government issue spell books - the regime prefers people to become invisible using a tried and tested technique to name one example.
Maps are always government issue. If you come across a map with "Dragons Be Here" on it, at least you'll know it's official. L'Evallier and the Council write up their notes from meetings and this is compiled into a kind of Hansard publication but this is not on sale to the public. It is only available to the Queen, Eileen (they still send her copies despite her defection, there is no going away from politicial propaganda whatever world you're on!), the Council and people like Hanastrew. A copy is made available via the Queen's Library. FNN access it from there. The government take the issue they may not be able to stop FNN finding things out but it doesn't mean they should make it easy for them!
I'm working on a series of articles on this and may even bring it out as an e-book at some point but for this blog I thought I would just mention that my magical realm does have its own version of our Highway Code.
What with witches and wizards, fairies and sprites all flying, usually by broomstick, sometimes by boot power, sometimes by instant transportation (which carries the risk of all your bits not necessarily re-materializing the way they should), there has to be a set of rules that even the most wicked of witches is going to follow. Nobody likes a tailgating broomstick user. They tend to be obliterated. And a wicked witch is just going to want to get about her business without traffic problems getting in her way. (Well you would, wouldn't you?).
The fairy government update the Code annually as they've usually come across yet another incidence of sprite stupidity that has a direct effect on travel and transportation and the best way to stop it is outlaw it. Even if the sprites ignore such a ban, it is widely known that flouting the Code is a good way to get you (a) killed, (b) jailed and (c) put in the stocks for a wide variety of nasty smelling stuff to be thrown at you. The latter is considered a very good form of family entertainment. Most sprites would prefer the first two options, yes even (a), as ritual humiliation is not something they find easy to deal with.
Diary keeping is mainly practised by the Fairy Queen, Eileen, L'Evallier and Hanastrew.
The Queen uses her diary for appointments but it is rumoured she puts acerbic reviews against those that do not go well. FNN would love to report on this in more detail but the Queen's diaries are subject to the Fairy Kingdom's equivalent of the Official Secrets Act so all the realm has to go on here are the rumours.
Eileen, while still resident in the magical world, used her diary to keep a record of her daring deeds. She also thought that keeping a historical record of her good deeds fighting dragons and so on would help her defend herself in her fights with the Council!
L'Evallier again keeps his appointments in his dairy but he also grades his using 1 for something he is looking forward to a lot to 10 where he is not looking forward to it at all. Most Council meetings are graded 9 or 10!
Hanastrew keeps a record of "kills" - not to defend herself against the Council. Unlike her mentor, she doesn't tend to land herself in it with them but she likes to know what she removed and when and why. She also uses her diary to prove to that wildlife nut, Fresdian, that everything she has removed was a direct threat to someone. Sometimes that someone is just Hanastrew of course so Fresdian is not entirely impressed by this.
Humour in the Fairy Kingdom is fairly wide and ranges from physical comedy (a great favourite of the sprites) to literary wit (appreciated by the likes of L'Evallier).
The sprites' contribution to great literature is to come up with limericks on a regular basis. The sprites don't attempt to be subtle but then a great limerick isn't either so this probably is a match made in heaven. They are also fond of adding captions to the tags explaining what pictures are what in the Kingdom galleries. This can go down well, most of the additional captions are amusing, but the curators have sworn to hunt down and punish severely those doing this kind of thing.
Some comedy programmes from Earth are directly imported and watched. Others are adopted for use in the Kingdom. Occasionally the Kingdom tunes into a live comedy show from Earth if they like the look of the comic. Humorous books are a relatively new development. These tend to come out published by folk like Hanastrew, who is developing a humorous version of the Kingdom's highway code.
Many of the magical species are musical. The elves are probably the best known for this and all of them are proficient in harp playing. It is compulsory. However the Kingdom is happy to import music it likes from other worlds and it does enjoy a lot of what Earth produces.
Classical music is the favourite import. Thomas Tallis, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edward Elgar, Mozart and Beethoven are particular favourites for the Queen, Eileen, L'Evallier, Melanbury and the upper classes generally.
Eileen is a fan of easy listening as well. While she was still in the realm, the Queen tolerated this and grew to like groups like the Carpenters herself. L'Evallier and Melanbury will only listen to classical music. For them all of the arts must be classical. Anything else is just common (that element appeals to Eileen a lot, mainly because it annoyed L'Evallier).
Creative Writing, as we know it, does not exist in the magical realm. The classic fairy tales from Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, Oscar Wilde and so on are, in my Fairy Kingdom, official records and were dictated to minds that were open to receive the stories, which is why we receive them.
The day-do-day business of fairy government is recorded in writing by L'Evallier, backed up by Palace officials, and is roughly the equivalent of Hansard. Creative writing is not allowed here - it has to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Village entertainment does involve making up new fairytales but these tend to be recited orally rather than written down. Some villages have kept written records of these but the stories tend to be specific to the local area so have not taken off across the magical realm.
The most famous magazine in the Fairy Kingdom, much to the disgust of the Queen, Eileen, the Chief Witch and Hanastrew, is Play Pixie Monthly, which is roughly the equivalent to Play Boy.
There are other magazines. Fresdian subscribes to and writes for the wildlife ones. These tend to divide into flora and fauna rather than combine the two into one big magazine. History magazines are written by the elves who have taken it upon themselves to write up the realm's history in a way the populace at large will understand. The elves do not understand that their attitude here has given cause to everyone else thinking them pompous, with their long elegant noses stuck right up their... antiquated documents.
The more popular history magazines are written by the dwarves but they will focus on the huge battles that they won. Naturally these magazines do not sell well in troll and elve communities. In fairness the dwarves are accurate in their portrayals but the realm is crying out for someone to write the history clearly, concisely and without concern for offending their own or other species. The Queen is not worried about this - she sees that as she holds the official records anyway, why worry, but the likes of L'Evallier would like to see a proper and popular record available for the general public. He also thinks it a good idea to encourage reading rather than have the realm just watch Roherum's broadcasts.
Poetry is highly respected throughout the magical realm and all of the species enjoy some form of it. Unsurprisingly the Queen, members of her Council like L'Evallier and Brankaresh enjoy the "higher" forms or what Wes describes as "ballads that go on for too long and are full of gloom and doom". The response to that from the art critics goes on at some length, uses vocabulary no posh being is supposed to know, yet alone use, but the gist is that they think Wes has got it wrong!
Sprites like Wes relish the limerick though their enemies claim 5 lines is all that the average sprite could pay attention to. Naturally the ruder the limerick the more popular it is amongst the pixies and imps. As on Earth, public walls are often daubed with limericks. The more artistic sprite illustrates their work with cartoons as well though the Queen does not approve. She links both the verse and the graphic lower the tone. She is right. They do. It doesn't stop them being popular though!
This ranges from very formal behaviour (the elves mainly, even the Queen is known to be more relaxed about etiquette than her ancestors were) to zero etiquette at all (pixies and imps mainly, though ironically they do have some rules when their regular fights break out yet again).
The Council like following set procedures for entering their own Council chambers as well as the State Dining Room (both for meals and for meeting with the Queen there. She likes meetings to be held here. It is the largest room in the Palace though Eileen feels the Queen should use her own, more ornate, Throne Room for Council meetings if only to save the Royal Household having to put up/take down chairs and tables for meals once meetings are finished).
Each of the magical species has its own hierarchy and it is made very clear to individuals just where they are in that. Individuals are expected to work hard to improve their position. Even pixies and imps look down on the last listed in their species. This is usually some newly qualified soul (from school or college) being who has just been registered for work
To be honest the title should really be Kiss and Croak in the Fairy Kingdom as that is what will happen if the foolishly romantic choose the wrong being to show affection towards!
The main targets for this kind of thing would be the Queen, Eileen, Hanastrew and later on in my novels, Jenny, once she becomes aware she is half-magical.
Kiss and tell is unlikely to happen to the Queen as any offences against her risk the offender falling foul of the Treason Act and facing death. (Obliteration by wand is the most favoured method of execution and the Queen has carried this out directly in her younger years as a Princess when one or two thought they would try it on. They found out the hard way she was not that naive).
You would have to be insane to even think about trying Kiss and Tell on Eileen.
Hanastrew, though a fighting fairy godmother like her mentor Eileen, would be more at risk. Hanastrew is pretty, adores things like chocolates and roses (though she does not show this in front of the fairy squad mainly out of fear of mockery), and could be susceptible to the charming rogue. It is one of the Queen's (and Eileen's) worries that this could happen. Hanastrew would never deliberately do anything that could cause embarrassment to the realm but this would be the way to change that. It has been suggested that given Hanastrew is like an officer of state, offences against her should also come within the Treason Act, but this has not gone further. There is a kind of feeling that if this is mentioned openly, Hanastrew might react badly (i.e. the "do you think I'm an idiot" reaction). The realm wants to avoid this. Offended fairies and other magical beings have a historical habit of showing that they're offended and the realm has had enough of this in the past.
Jenny, on the face of it, is protected simply by being Eileen's daughter but there is a risk someone might use Jenny to get at Eileen. Both women are aware of this. Jenny however has only eyes for one man, her husband, Paul and finally Eileen can see there being some point to the marriage she has never approved of.
The tabloid press, as we know it, does not exist in the Fairy Kingdom (another reason you can tell I write fantasy!).
However, Roherum makes up for this with some of the programmes he makes for the Fairy News Network. Naturally he presents these programmes as well.
It is a mystery to his rival and enemy, the FNN weatherman, how Roherum ever raises the money to get these programmes made. It is an even greater mystery how these programmes attract huge viewing figures.
On that the weatherman's opinion matches that of the Queen who loathes the This Week's Royal Revelations Show. It is FNN's biggest rated programme and only the interference of the Council stopped the Queen banning it. That was because L'Evallier pointed out such a ban would make the Queen unpopular and she would be better off retaining her dignity ignoring the show. It was advice she reluctantly accepted mainly because she couldn't think of a counter-argument.
Eileen tunes into the "wretched show" just in case there is gossip she did miss hearing whilst out on missions for the Queen. Her Majesty's reaction to this is unprintable though it did give Eileen some new swear words to add to her already good vocabulary here.
Given the decision to allow Prince Charles' letters to be published, I gave some thought as to how secrets would be kept that way in my Fairy Kingdom. There are two answers.
Any whistleblower is likely to be changed into something nasty and given everyone in the Kingdom already knows that, people will think twice about speaking out on something that at best will change their existence and at worst end it. They will think even further about publishing anything given this would be used as direct evidence of the "crime".
This overall attitude is not necessarily a good thing (the Queen thinks otherwise). Eileen has spoken out against it and is well aware her own royal status has been what has kept her alive at times. Even L'Evallier, not a keen fan of upstarts speaking out of turn, can see a point for whistleblowers to help keep the fairy government accountable. The Queen thinks it a personal insult given she really does try to serve her people - and in fairness she does.
There is no obvious solution to this and the Queen has made it clear she does not want to discuss the issue. L'Evallier, with time, will try to find a way around her attitude and show her it is in her interests to be transparent but it is a case of taking the softly, softly approach.
Any secrets/secret keeper would be protected by a curse on them. That ensures the secret keeper will not want to break it given the wide range of curses available for magical practitioners to impose on people. The really clever person will ensure that the curse will strike anyone, such as a journalist, if they try investigating secrets. The even more clever person will ensure there is nothing to give away the fact there is a secret to keep in the first place.
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.