- House building materials suddenly change from sensible bricks and mortar to gingerbread and other sweet biscuits and other items.
- You notice a huge rise in the amphibian population and it isn't the breeding season.
- There seems to be more apple trees around and they all seem to grow huge red shiny fruit.
- Other species move out.... usually in a hurry.
- You see black cats around where previously you hadn't and none of them are friendly. Just like thier owners...
Education plays a major part in the fantasy world with the best known examples probably being Sir Terry Pratchett's Unseen University in his Discworld series and Hogwarts, part of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. Libraries are given good publicity in these too (and who could not like a Librarian that goes "oook?!).
In my Fairy Kingdom, the Queen owns the literally central library where the originals of all books in her realm are stored. All towns and villages have their own smaller libraries with a selection of copy books and every so often this selection is changed by prior arrangement with the Palace. Eileen's alternative version of Kingdom history is never allowed out of the Palace and those wanting to read it there have to give their personal details to the Librarian who passes these on to the Queen and her Council. Surprise, surprise, this puts people off reading them and Eileen is less than happy about it. Censorship officially doesn't exist in the Queen's realm but it can turn up in disguise!
Reading is compulsory but it is also compulsory to make it fun! The local libraries play a huge role in this with special events and they are often used as a venue for re-enacting the fairy stories. There is absolutely no danger of libraries being closed here. If ever there was proof I write fantasy, that is it! (Shouldn't be the case but there you go).
Fetes and shows in the Fairy Kingdom focus on fun, food and family entertainment. Wizards are in charge of the firework displays. Cooking is provided by various sprites (they are surprisingly good at this and their fast food stands always attract huge crowds).
Fairy godmothers tend to put on classic flight displays and stunt flying. Falconry exists too in the magical realm but it tends to be the higher classes, such as the elves, who indulge in this.
New spells (having been thoroughly tested first) are often brought to public attention for the first time at a local show. And one of the most popular things to watch is the target practice where spells are aimed at boards a fair distance off and everyone cheers when a charm makes these boards explode. Of course it's not such a nice time for the wildlife. Below is one example of a frog endeavouring to get away from the chaos and before some witch decides to use him as an ingredient (a hazard generally not faced by frogs on Earth it has to be said).
In some ways there is no such thing as an unexpected hero/heroine in the Fairy Kingdom because, if you take a typical tale, and look at the most unlikely, most downtrodden character, they are inevitably the star.
However, in my novels and stories, the lowest of the magical low are the sprite communities (pixies and imps), despised by everyone else for their constant fighting, their ability to only manage the most basic of spells, their language (very basic at times!) and so on. So for two sprites, Wes and Stan, to become heroes does shake the realm up because nobody, including them themselves, ever expected they would be the good guys.
Even Eileen, who is less judgemental on others' magical ability than many, does not expect good to come out of sprites so she too is surprised at how Wes and Stan turn out.
Subversion in the Fairy Kingdom mainly takes the form of disagreeing with the Queen and her Council, which is something Eileen opposes. She feels that people should be free to criticize their leaders. Criticism often takes the form of rude limericks scribbled on walls (and is nearly always done by the sprite communities).
Roxannadrell's retort to Eileen was there was criticism and there was criticism. What was meant was the kind of criticism that could lead to encouragement to rebellious witches and wizards to try to overthrow the government. Eileen's retort to that was the Queen and her Council should have made that clearer. Eileen was deeply suspicious the lack of clarity was deliberate in the hope it would discourage criticism of the government at all.
Roherum very much steers the Fairy News Network to take the government line and regular repetitons of historical battles are replayed on FNN to remind all of what happened when rebellion did break out.
Prior to her defection, Eileen's typical to-do list would look something like this.
Each town and village in the Fairy Kingdom has its annual fete, celebrating local achievements, but the realm has a whole has one major festival. This is the Celebrating Our Heritage festival held in mid-summer and commemorates fairytales of all kinds. All magical beings from witches to fairy godmothers to ill-used stepdaughters celebrate this event. The stories are retold and re-enacted and a good time has had by all.
The festival is split into sections. One day will look at the fairytales from the viewpoint of the good guys. Another will look at them from the viewpoint of the witches, the ogres, the bad guys. The final day looks at how fairytales are remembered on other planets including Earth and there is usually a vote held by all attendees as to which is the favourite tale for that year. It's usually a choice between Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty but occasionally tales like The Red Shoes gets voted in when people fancy a change from the standard top three.
Food and drink flows freely. There is an amnesty between the wicked and the good so this event goes unopposed by all. Roherum and the Fairy News Network film it all and replay it at the end of the year as a look back at the event.
Although the basic principles of "how" to build houses are the same as on Earth, there are differences in what you can expect when house building in the magical realm.
Cooking is appreciated in the Fairy Kingdom, as much as it is on Earth. It is thought (though not proven) if you use magic to produce food, some of its qualities will permeate what is being "cooked" and so the taste is simply not as good as home baked, well produced fruit and vegetables.
The Queen has given instructions to her Household keeper and the kitchens they are to look for new recipe ideas from around the universes. She does not want to eat Griffin Surprise or Dodo Stew on the grounds these species are endangered enough already. Besides eating the cuisine from another world promotes understanding in a way that most would enjoy.
Bright, shiny red apples are treated with suspicion, as are those selling them. There are regular government health warnings about gingerbread made cottages and sometimes dire pictorial images are up showing gums and teeth at their worst.
Cooking is by frying, oven and grill cooking. There is no such thing as a microwave in the Fairy Kingdom. The realm cannot understand why we humans want our food in such a hurry. Hanastrew practices a little cooking in her rooms at the Palace after a hard day and finds it therapeutic.
Woodland walks in the Fairy Kingdom differ significantly from those we take here. Some of the major differences are:-
This post was almost called Roherum's Top Five Pet HATS! (Another time perhaps!).
Roherum, that doyenne of the Fairy News Network (or its scourge as the weatherman likes to think of him), has his peeves and some of these are:-
Hanastrew always looked up to Eileen and still sees her as one of the Fairy Kingdom's all time great fairy godmothers but that doesn't mean the younger woman approves of all her ex-mentor has done, far from it.
For Hanastrew the magical life is everything and she is at a total loss in even trying to understand why Eileen defected to be with the human she loves. Hanastrew felt Eileen's other concern of magical power abuses would have been better tackled by Eileen herself staying in the magical realm.
Hanastrew's most vehement hates then are:-
I have to limit this listing to five because Eileen can come up with many, many more things for this list. (As could the Queen incidentally and given their lists would both include each other's behaviour, an almighty row would be the result).
Eileen's greatly condensed list then is:-
Roherum, my goblin presenter "hero" of Fairy News Network, is legendary for what he comes up with on air. He believes he has the perfect interview technique and is not afraid to ask tough questions. Some of his more memorable moments are:-
Roxannadrell has many things she loathes but some of her pet hates are:-
Our goblin presenter "hero" at the Fairy News Network is legendary for his gaffes. A few of them are below and are all taken from his comments added to news items. He ignores all advice he shouldn't do this, he should let the news speak for itself, being totally convinced the Fairy Kingdom does want his comments. That he needs to guide the realm... Given everybody else, even the Queen, is not going to convince him otherwise, they let him get on with it but his choice of words at times has become legendary.
Villages in the magical realm are not identkit. Each has something unique to it. And there is a lot of rivalry and competition for the Best Kept Village Award every year. Each village is organized around a square grid and has its own pub, library, grocery, place of worship (for those who want to, there is no compulsion about religious observance here) and public gardens. The latter have a wide range of flora and fauna, most of which is more brightly coloured than anything we have on Earth.
Sprites are despised for many reasons, including fighting, which does not help when the Best Kept Village Award is due to be made, but they are also lousy at keeping their residences looking nice and are generally felt to let the side down. The only good thing is that this applies to all the villages so no one place is discriminated against here. Sprites are an untidy, uncouth lot wherever they are.
Building materials range from brick to straw (though houses are not made of the latter. The lessons in The Three Little Pigs have been well learned. Also with dragon attacks a very real possibility, things are kept as non-inflammable as possible to limit damage as much as possible). Locals do have to be careful when using stone for building with as it has been known for the odd troll to be "picked up" by accident from the local heaps of stones and mayhem is the usual result.
The main differences between a day out at the beach here and in the magical realm are:-
Colours in the Fairy Kingdom are intense. Blue skies are a deep shade of blue. When storm clouds come over they are jet black. Even beige is a deeper shade than we know on Earth.
So when it comes to home decorating, one coat of paint is all that is needed. Those with any interest in art and DIY will paint as we do. Those without any interest will use magic to get the paint on the wall. (Get the spell wrong though and that paint can end up anywhere. Water can be bad enough here, just ask the Sorcerer's Apprentice.).
The Queen's Palace has rooms in every shade imaginable. Roxannadrell loves colour and has been known to change her gown so she blends with whatever room she is in. (A quick tap with her wand ensures the change is painless and convenient). Occasionally this can make the monarch difficult to find! (She has been known to do this deliberately when she decides she really cannot face the Council again).
I know we're only just into September but already I can sense the turn of the season from summer into autumn. There is more of a nip in the air, it isn't light for quite so long in the evenings and so on. Those senses of change also occur in my fictional Fairy Kingdom but magic also rears its (sometimes) ugly head. For example:-
My favourite book format is likely to remain the paperback, which I think is the best invention to hit publishing since Caxton developed his ideas.
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.