And this is exactly what I wanted. I had dreamed for a long time of writing a story, something a little like a fairytale, but directed more towards young adults/adult readers. My love of fantasy stories, where characters step through a mirror, or down a rabbit hole (yes, I'm going off Alice in Wonderland here - Cassie's favourite story!), or through the back of a wardrobe (thank you Narnia!), into a magical world beyond the limits of the character's imagination, is what really drives me.
My favourite question: WHAT IF?
In the case of my story, the questions I asked were:
WHAT IF my character discovered that their completely normal, boring world, held secrets that would blow their mind?
WHAT IF an ordinary girl discovered that she was more important to this fantastic, newly discovered world, than she ever thought she could be?
And, of course: WHAT IF she had to make a choice between her ordinary, boring life, and the fantastic, secret life that she suddenly found herself in?
Of course, I had to limit my imagination a bit. I wanted to set it here, in a real time, real place type setting. Futuristic stories are great, because anything could happen between now and when those stories are set, to make anything possible. The world loses gravity and everyone can fly in 2235? Sure. There is a zombie outbreak and in 2095 the world is now run by zombies? Absolutely.
Fantasy stories are even better. Set on this world, or that world, where the writer can make the rules - and break them.
But that is really what fiction is about, isn't it? Taking those stretches and leaps of imagination and going with them.
I wanted a relateable main character. Someone from here and now, who has grown up how most of our young people have. Someone that they could relate to. In fact, someone that they feel they know. Someone who could have been their friend, or classmate, or even themselves. Someone who by her own admission is boring, and plain, and completely normal.
Then I wanted to shove that character into an almost "alternative reality" setting. A setting where everything is how she knows it, but different somehow. Add in a few unusual characters, creatures and a frightening enemy, and see how she reacts, grows, strengthens and develops.
Age wise, i wanted her at that point that all of us face - the point of becoming an adult, and facing all those adult responsibilities, and the frightening (and boring!) adult world. On the verge of having to decide what she wants from her life, what she wants for her future, what she wants for her family, and her friends, and most importantly, herself. Given the choice of a momentous decision, what would you do? What would you choose? How would you react?
All of this I wanted to set on Earth, where there are the normal rules, and reasons, and ways things work. Then I wanted to push those limits, to encompass the alternative, fantastical part of the story. I wanted to make it just unbelieveable enough to be fantastic, yet just real enough to make my readers think "WHAT IF?"