Elves in Coffee Shops

It happened earlier this week in the Financial District of San Francisco. It was a rainy workday and I was sitting in a café editing Wycaan Master, my fantasy novel, when these two beautiful women entered. I’m a guy: I peeked, taking in their tightly, swept back hair, high cheek bones and narrow eyes, all accentuated by carefully applied makeup. They were both tall and thin.

Then I realized. I had been disappointed as my gaze moved to their ears. Their ears were not pointed!

I was shocked. I had really expected pointed ears? It’s this elf thing…it’s taking over. When I am writing a story I am absorbed…totally. Even when editing, I am completely caught up in the story. I can read an emotional scene a dozen times and still be moved to tears (Confession: I once cried during a Simpson’s episode, but that’s for another time).

However more recently I am taken when I see someone who might fit into my fantasy world. A walking stick becomes a staff, and I expect a short, bearded man to have an axe at his side, not an iPhone.

 

It is taking over.

I’m not the first to stumble down this route. In his excellent book about writing fantasy, Terry Brooks admits to disappearing into the world of Shannara.  Often it happens when he is at the dinner table or with family or friends. His eyes (so he is told) gaze into the distance and everyone understands.

Now Terry Brooks can get away with it for two reasons:

1) He is older and entitled to a senior moment.

2) He is a best-selling author and there is nothing like success to romanticize a little eccentricity.

While I will one day be older, if the gods allow, the success isn’t assured. I am going to have to learn to curb my imagination, to stay in this world until sleep or time in front of a computer allows. A few glasses of single malt can also help.

But I don’t want to block it. My characters are part of my life, their challenges are my problems, and their triumphs are my successes. If I block them out just once, will they come back when I beckon them?

It’s tough living in two separate worlds, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

th-1

Finally, it is St. Patrick’s Day. Did you know the Irish for whiskey is ‘Uisce beatha’, which literally means ‘water of life’?

Live Green My Friends.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written two fantasy novels and the first has been entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in January 2012. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

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11 comments on “Elves in Coffee Shops

  1. […] have rich characters. It is what might happen next that keeps us page turning after midnight. It is the characters who continue with us after we finish a […]

  2. […] My non-fantasy novels, The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale, were both situated in my native England, and my upcoming novel, Unwanted Heroes, is based here in San Francisco. I’m not sure if I chose these surroundings as much as absorbed what is around me into my stories. It is, I guess, what allows me to see elves in coffee shops. […]

  3. […] And this moment of magic only happened because I was ready to embrace it, albeit with a little help from a nine-year-old with a rich imagination. But then I have seen elves in coffee shops. […]

  4. […] nowadays). You make up all the rules. If you want these creatures to have different colored skin, pointed ears, horns, or magic, go for it. If you want to have unicorns, dragons, or any creature you make up, it […]

  5. […] Elves are tall, thin, have pointed ears, and excellent hearing. They look good in green, and shoot bow and arrows with exceptional accuracy.  Dwarves are short, rotund, live underground, mine and play around with axes. This is so because J.R.R. Tolkien put the epic in epic fantasy with his Middle Earth series’. Are the rest of us thus condemned to be mere recyclers of his work? Maybe. But I am not convinced how this is different from any other genre: romance has the same images and general plot arc. So does suspense and horror. And don’t get me started on dystopian thrillers. […]

  6. […] have seen elves in coffee shops and magical tunnels in my local park. These magical worlds are not hidden from us, they are right […]

  7. […] What if elves were real? There are those in the south of England who believe that elves exist. I heard this when researching for A Gardener’s Tale.  When a twitter friend shared with me that he had heard of this in the north of England, it made me wonder… […]

  8. […] Lord of the Rings is a story (or several stories) about elves and dwarves and dragons and quests. And yet, professors sit in their Ivy League towers and dig deep […]

  9. […] while ago, I wrote a post about meeting elves in coffee shops. The point was that…well you can read the point for yourself, but there is more along these […]

  10. […] And this moment of magic only happened because I was ready to embrace it, albeit with a little help from a nine-year-old with a rich imagination. But then I have seen elves in coffee shops.   […]

  11. […] What if elves were real? There are those in the south of England who believe that elves exist. I heard this when researching for A Gardener’s Tale. When a twitter friend shared with me that he had heard of this in the north of England, it made me wonder… […]

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