- Are Dragons Harmful or Just Misunderstood? Not a good public response to this one but Roherum stuck by his story and thought it should be looked into.
- Can wicked witches ever be reformed? The Chief Witch rang in for this one to denounce this as wistful, wet and frankly useless journalism as why would wicked witches want to be reformed.
- Why Weather Forecasting is not a great art, why even the humans can do it. This was designed to needle the weatherman, who has long been after Roherum's more obviously glamorous job. It worked a treat. The weatherman stormed off the set in a huff and didn't come back for over a week.
Roherum, the Fairy News Network's lead presenter, prides himself on being able to sniff out a good story. The rest of the magical realm does not share his view and cannot believe some of what he has come up with but some of his favourites are:-
As with the situation on Earth, art inspired by nature in the Fairy Kingdom takes many forms ranging from classic landscape portraiture to poetry to musical pieces inspired by a particular area. The big difference is there is a wider range of "nature" in the magical realm. Wildlife studies include in depth analysis of the habits of the average dragon (with the big tip being alway wearfire proof clothing and stay out of the way of the ruddy things, which is not advice given to our wildlife presenters).
Then there are portraits of the dodo, griffin, unicorn and horror portraits of ogres and orcs and such like for those who dislike "cute" wildlife works. And all are agreed there is nothing cute about an ogre or an orc and those galleries that focus on the darker side of art have a wide audience (not just from the ogre and orc communities either).
Books are written on all aspects of Kingdom flora and fauna, mostly by Fresdian, and these have become classic reference works. The Queen occasionally arranges for a book of photographic portraits to be published and these always go down well.
Roherum, FNN's lead presenter, does have many good journalistic skills. He does dig out stories. He is persistent. He checks his sources. He never names said sources. But he is also capable of coming out with news stories that lead the rest of the Fairy Kingdom shaking their collective heads in disbelief. Some more of these are:-
Inventing characters, who will hopefully prove to be memorable for good reasons, is one of the great joys of creative fiction writing. And as I get to know my characters better I understand their foibles and virtues more, so writing for them/about them becomes more natural. (I hope and think the writing flows better as a result of this). What I like about my rebellious fairy godmother, Eileen can be summarized as:-
These aren't just the classic spell books or even the fairy tales book. Magical books include the history of the Fairy Kingdom (the official version and Eileen's alternative), good magical practice guides (which are scorned by any witch or wizards with pretensions to being evil), and advice books.
The latter range from guides to reining in the wilder elements of the sprite communities (not one hint has worked for long) to good beard growth tips for dwarves of either sex. There are also books on each of the magical species, their histories and cultures.
The Queen promotes reading of these in schools and colleges in the hope it will promote understanding between the different groups. This has worked to a certain extent but is completely wasted on those who refuse to read any but their own group's history, culture etc.
To achieve fully rounded characters, I think you have to set them up with admirable qualities and those that are less so.
These less likeable traits are vital because (a) no character is perfect and (b) without the failings your characters are more likely to come across as cardboard cut-outs. So I've no intention of changing Eileen's less likeable traits, as listed below, since I believe they are a crucial part of her overall make-up.
One of the advantages of living in the Fairy Kingdom is the absence of advertising. (Okay so the downsides are you can get caught in the magical crossfire often unleashed by the Chief Witch on her latest attempt to take the throne and there is always the risk of being eaten alive by a dragon, but every world has its upside and the lack of direct marketing is one of them here).
The nearest thing to any kind of advertising is the Fairy News Network carrying details of the latest exploits by Eileen, Hanastrew and so on during their broadcasts. Naturally the Queen and her Council wishes FNN would focus on the positive use of magic rather than also carrying details of the Witch's exploits and so on but the broadcasters insist they have to be balanced. Besides people should know what the Witch is up to as it gives folk a chance to get out of the way.
The Queen and her Council look with incredulity at our various forms of advertising. Eileen has got used to it since her defection to Earth but she still hates direct marketing and always will.
The Queen occasionally allows some of her personal photographs of the Palace grounds to go on public display. She uses the equivalent of a digital camera and asks her Lord Chamberlain to find a way of printing and framing the finished result. These shots go on a "tour" of selected towns within a 50 miles radius of the Palace.
The Council have expressed concern these might be a security breach but the monarch has rightly pointed out someone would have to be the Chief Witch, a treacherous wizard and/or insane to try and challenge her. Roxannadrell thinks photography (along with chocolate and alcohol) among the better things humans have come up with and recognizes it as an artistic form in its own right. (L'Evallier has reserved judgement on this but the Queen has accused him of waiting for an ice age to pass before making his mind up on something of this nature, which is somewhat harsh).
Poetry in the Fairy Kingdom literally goes from the sublime to the ridiculous.
There are the legendary, epic poems, which the elves adore writing and reading. On the other end of the scale are the limericks, the ruder the better, which the sprite communities (imps and pixies) write and publicize as much as possible. Limericks do appear on most but definitely not all public walls (you'd have to be brave or an idiot to put them on the Queen's Palace walls or the home of the Chief Witch to name two exemptions).
The elves despair because their work doesn't get nearly so much exposure and they feel their sagas in poetic form deserve publicity. They also don't like limericks thinking them to be coarse (completely missing the point of them of course).
The Fairy News Network does have an arts magazine programme called Airy-Fairy Art, which makes true lovers of art, including the Queen, despair but it does give reasonable coverage of literature, ignores limericks, and shows exhibitions of landscapes so the monarch forgives it for its rotten title. The elves tend to do the same. Naturally the sprites don't tune into this (they have protested limericks are an art form but given there's no danger of the humorous five line verse dying out, they are unlikely to ever get on to this show).
Eileen likes both forms of poetry and thinks there is plenty of room for both but she was a lone voice in the Kingdom over this. Folk tended to fall into either camp and stay there.
The worlds of fantasy and science fiction are full of unlikely heroes and heroines. Fairytales in general would simply not be what they are without them. Classic signs to look out for include:-
Publications in my Fairy Kingdom, as here on Earth, range from pamphlets to novels and are aimed at differing audiences.
The underlying theme is that magic is generally good, it is not the fault of magic itself if it is misused by some witch or wizard with an attitude problem.
It is also pointed out that magic in itself does not kill people, it is the witch, wizard or fairy using it that does this. This does not cut much ice with victims of magic, especially those who can no longer speak about what happened to them.
This does not necessarily mean they died but the Fairy Kingdom does have a very healthy and growing amphibian population, not all of which started life as amphibians.
Further publications include:-
There are a range of publications produced by an offshoot of Fairy News Network called Fairy News Publishing. So yes the magical realm's media market is controlled by one big company. Like that would ever happen here... !
Some of the most renowned publications are:-
Escaping to her gardens is one of the Queen's favourite ways to relax. When touring the realm, her best visits (from her viewpoint) is to visit other people's gardens, woodlands etc. (She tolerates visiting other stately homes on the ground but generally just makes polite noises about them. She has stately homes herself so why should she be impressed but she does just about recognize the need to be polite to her host).
The Queen enjoys landscapes whether she's physically viewing them when out and about in the great outdoors or in portrait and/or photographic forms. She thinks the natural world (for her realm) and what counts as countryside on other planets is the finest form of creation and all should enjoy these things and not pollute them. No wonder the fairy realm generally despises humans...
I find landscapes the most inspiring for visualising my Fairy Kingdom. I like a nice range of forests, coastal scenes, mountain areas and classic gardens to help me form, in particular, the Queen's Palace grounds.
(Incidentally Eileen does not tend to visit stately homes as a hobby. The ones she has seen on TV programmes and so on remind her too much of the Fairy Queen's Palace and Eileen doesn't need reminding of that).
I find I need an initial image I can use to flesh out my worlds more. Seeing pictures, especially those involving the sea, also help me to "hear" how the worlds sound which can then spark further ideas as to what might live in those places.
While books are highly treasured by all sections of Fairy Kingdom society, the love of stories, in any format, surpasses that.
Every village and town has at least one evening a week where stories are read out loud to the populace. People take it in turns to read (and it is considered an honour to be chosen). The main focus of the material is on fairytales but legends (for example Beowulf) are also hugely popular.
History of other worlds is also read. It is felt that everybody in the realm should have some knowledge of the other worlds out there, especially Earth, given the Kingdom's divine commission to keep an eye on what humans are up to.
Everybody is expected to know the most popular fairytales off by heart (and this is proven at the weekly readings where at least one person is chosen to recite a tale without reference to a book).
Audio books are not known in the Kingdom but the realm is aware of their existence. The realm generally considers audio books and anything that encourages reading to be a good thing and one of the few areas where humans "do okay".
Hanastrew would love Facebook. She would post pictures of where she has carried out successful magical defence work around the realm. She would also post thoughts about her favourite stories and her best tips for being the best fairy godmother possible. (Her mentor, Eileen, would not approve. She would see it as giving away trade secrets).
Hanastrew would happily post notices she thought would help the Queen and/or Kingdom security. (Eileen definitely wouldn't, taking the attitude if she's going to post propaganda, she'll at least put up her own!). Hanastrew would post stories of magical mishaps and share her thoughts on the joys of chocolate. (She can and would write at length on that).
Hanastrew would have loads of friends on Facebook, mainly her fellow fairy godmothers. She'd also expose daft magical laws (which would not go down so well with the Council, though the Queen would sympathize. She has wanted to get rid of these for years but the Council to a wizard and other magical beings oppose this on the grounds you never know when these laws might be useful again. The Queen could impose her will here but she is the one wanting to bring a bit more democracy to the magical world so has kind of boxed herself in here. Eileen would say it serves her cousin right).
Roxannadrell is also very fond of forests and woodland walks. She thinks Earth's natural world is the best thing going for our planet (and that we've made a complete mess of caring for it the way we were divinely commissioned to do).
The Palace grounds has its own major forest which makes up two sides of the perimeter. There is a nice mixture of trees from oaks to beeches to elms plus trees that are unique to the magical world. (They all talk, usually to complain the standard of timber is not what it used to be, and some can change position so they can follow the sun to make the most of all available light).
The only one who likes the concept of blogging is Roherum and he puts what we would recognize of these posts on to his daily crystal ball download, which he invites others to access. To date nobody has taken him up on the offer so he blogs to himself. (It is generally considered that this is probably for the best. It keeps Roherum quiet and nobody has to read or download what he says).
Roherum can't understand why folk aren't responding to his blogs, unaware that if they did respond, it would be with the kind of language that would make his granny blush.
Tact is a foreign language to Roherum. He uses his blog to say all the things he dare not broadcast. The Queen and her Council do view the download, with huge distaste, but they keep an eye on it to see if Roherum is tapping into what the people think. So far they are confident he is not. Roherum is unique, thankfully.
Eileen is banned from writing anything after her history books. Eileen would normally happily ignore that but life on Earth with Derek has been more effective in stopping her coming out with anything controversial than the Queen dares to admit, even to herself.
Roxannadrell never had any sympathy when Eileen whinged about paperwork, given the monarch's own paperwork mountain was inevitably higher and more extensive than her heir's.
As well as signing state papers to bring them into law, the Queen is responsible for upholding and improving magical standards so this means testing new ideas thoroughly (the fairy squad assists here), reading reports on these things and giving the nod or not. No magic is allowed to be practiced without royal consent. But naturally witches and wizards are not going to be beholden to a fairy godmother willingly, as the monarch is well aware, so a system of rewards for doing the right thing is in place and the Queen oversees that too. Naturally this generates a lot of paperwork!
The Queen, rightly, takes pride in being reasonably approachable by her subjects and replies to letters send in to her, especially if they are from children and young people. Roxannadrell sees this as part of her remit to be a positive ambassador for the fairy monarchy.
Roxannadrell spends several hours a day on the differing kinds of paperwork so to make this bearable, she splits this into sections with royal visits, walking, riding (horses and unicorns), her beloved gardening and so on breaking the day up nicely.
I'm glad to say the love of books crosses dimensions. The Fairy Queen, Eileen, Hanastrew and L'Evallier all adore books (albeit in general and different categories). The Witch and Brankaresh only collect those books that might be useful to them.
Roherum never reads and sadly boasts about it. The weatherman is not surprised. He does read well and surprises Roherum with what he comes out with at times. (Everything from quotes to say the plot outline for The Lord of the Rings).
There is a once weekly book programme on the Fairy News Network though this is not presented by Roherum. Villages and towns in the magical realm either have their own libraries or can get to one easily enough by walking. Libraries are considered vital here,
Eileen considers whoever designed the forms fairy godmothers must fill in after expending magic on behalf of the Queen to be a sadist who lacked the courage to go in for the whips and made their weapon of choice pen and paper instead.
L'Evallier would not thank Eileen for this. He designed the forms and did have the idea of keeping Eileen busy with paperwork to stop her causing trouble around the Palace when she was there when he was coming up with these. He knows better than to say so though. Nor does he dare think the thought anywhere near such a talented telepath as Eileen.
Eileen's other paperwork is mainly responding to letters and requests for visits (to open those things the inviters don't think they'll get the Queen for. Eileen is aware of that and finds it mildly amusing).
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.