C.S Lewis and me

I frist encountered the magical world of C.S Lewis through the BBC Tv-series “The Chronicles of Narnia” from 1989. I must have been just 5-6 years old, or even younger, when Narnia became the name of my own magical world. I made this world so detailed and vivid that when I first read the books in their original form I was quite let down. C.S Lewis’ writing was very straightforward and to-the-point and lacked the detailed descriptions that I have also craved in books. Nevertheless, he is the father and creator of this enchanted world with all its magical inhabitants and adventures, and for that, he has my absolute admiration, gratitude and utter respect. He has inspired my imagination to take flight ever since I was just a very little girl through his books; unabridged and complete, and abridged picture book versions.

The BBC series that introduced me to the wonderful world of C.S Lewis was normally telecast during Easter in Norway, as a morning treat for kids. My family and I spent our Easter in a sailing boat at sea, and it was only my uncle who had a TV in his boat, so he made us pay an admittance fee in candy in order for us to watch the series. Something we happily did, even though our storage of candy was quite limited.

My favorite parts of the series are the scene in Mr. Tumnus’ house when he and Lucy take tea for the first time in the first book, the scene in the magician’s house when Lucy makes the magician and his subjects visible in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, and when Eustace and Jill first meet the marsh wiggle in “The Silver Chair”.

The port keys to Narnia have always fascinated me. And all my life I have been looking for enchanted wardrobes and magic oil paintings of mighty ships at sea. Even the lamppost that is the first Narnian landmark after you’ve entered the magic Wardrobe has made me take hundreds of photos of Narnia-looking lampposts in the real world. I specifically remember one Wardrobe I found in an artsy hotel just outside Venice when I went there with my best friend to celebrate my 21st Birthday. It was magnificent, and yes, I did try to look for a magic country inside it.

When the “new” (well not so new anymore) Narnia movie came out, I was soooo excited. I spent hours on the Disney website playing Narnian games and watching trailer-clips of the upcoming film. But I was a bit let down when I first watched it in the theater. It was, as most modern movies are, fast-paced, action driven and computerized. The action bits (like the battle) were blown way up, and it had even added action scenes that were not there in the books. Having said that, I loved the four young actors who played the Pevensie children, they were all brilliant, and I wish I could have cast them in the BBC series, but I would have kept the old witch, played brilliantly by Barbara Kellerman. She is way scarier than the witch in the Disney movie.

The magic of Narnia will always fascinate me. It is not only a part of my childhood, it has become the totem pole of my imagination. I will always keep looking for secret doorways in paintings and wardrobes, and turn around to marvel over old lampposts. Narnia has become a part of me, of who I am, and that is all thanks to the wonderful C.S Lewis, who said so brilliantly: “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.” If only in my dreams.

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Author Recommendation: Jeff Wheeler

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One of my most beautiful discoveries this year is the author Jeff Wheeler. I came across one of his books, “The Queen’s Poisioner” by coincidence (Well, I don’t really believe in coincidences, but anyway…) when I was visiting Norway in April, and I was immediately drawn to it. I bought it, and wolfed it down in a day! The very same day I started the follow-up: “The Thief’s Daughter”. Both the books are a part of the “Kingfountain” series and I finished the series in days and started on the next series.

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I am currently reading the “Muirwood” series and I am loving it even more (if that is possible) than the the “Kingfountain” series!

So what is it about Jeff Wheeler’s books that I love so much?
Well, first of all it is Fantasy, but more than that it is extremely well written fantasy! The books are both action driven and character driven. Almost every page is a page-turner and the language flows so easily that it is a dream to read. The plots are intricate and dramatic, but still logical and realistic ( with realistic, I don’t mean they are like reality, I just mean that they make sense and have no irritating holes in them).
The characters are loveable and interesting, they all have their weaknesses and strengths, and the most important part, the real heroes are often girls and women! Here you will find that it is often the strong woman or girl who saves the man! Yet, she never loses her femininity, and become what I personally never like in female heroines, like a man.

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But what I love most about Jeff Wheeler’s books is how very spiritual they are! Especially the “Muirwood” series. The spiritual aspect of the books is not preachy, or depicted as a very fantastical and otherworldly magic. It is described, or used, in a way very similar to non-fictional spiritual books, only it is done in a way that weaves it so beautifully into the tale. There are little pearls of wisdom everywhere, and you learn something new, even if you are experienced in hardcore spirituality yourself.

Many of the tales are set in castles or abbeys, with a wise person, a spiritual teacher, training the hero/heroine in the spiritual aspects. I love seeing these beautiful places in my mind! It is like I am there taking part in the story myself.

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Jeff Wheeler himself recommends starting with the “Kingfountain” series, which is his most recent, but if you want to read the books mostly because of the spiritual aspects, I recommend starting with the “Muirwood” series. The protagonist in this series is a young teenage girl and she is such an amazing character I am in awe of Jeff Wheeler for creating her!

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I am not sure what age group Jeff Wheeler targets, but I did not feel that I was reading Children’s- or young adult books. I think these books really are for all age groups, but some of the content is at times a bit violent, not overly so, but it has short descriptions of battles and many of the villains do get killed, so I think it depends upon the sensitivity of the child, but I would perhaps say that the books are suited for everyone from 12 years and up. And with everyone, I really mean everyone!

If you want to know more about Jeff Wheeler and his books, you can check out his website here: http://www.jeff-wheeler.com

All the above images have been sourced from Jeff Wheeler’s website.

Roald Dahl and me

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Roald Dahl is one of those authors who is so beloved that we quarrel over his Nationality. The British will claim he is theirs as he was born in Wales, whereas Norwegians will say he belongs to them since his parents were both from Norway. His name is certainly Norwegian (he was named after the Norwegian explorer Roald Ammundsen), and we know that he spent most of his childhood summers in Tjøme, Norway, with his extended family who lived there. This is where most of his stories in his autobiographical book “Boy” takes place.

When I was very small my parents used to read to me. All kind of books really, but I especially loved Fairy stories, and stories of a more fantastical character. I loved stories so much that I wanted to read them all the time, so by the time I was four years old, I taught myself to read. After that there was no stopping me. I skipped the picture books and I dived into the whole bibliography of Roald Dahl.

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In one year I read most of his children’s books. My favorites were “Matilda” ( Well, it was about a four year old girl who teaches herself to read and then discovers she has magical abilities!), “Charlie and the Chocolate factory”, “The BFG” and the “Witches”. “Matilda” got me interested in classics, like Charles Dickens, and I started reading the abridged children’s versions of “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield”.

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A couple of years later, when I was maybe 6 or 7, I watched the film “The Witches” based on Roald Dahl’s book. I watched it at my granny’s house with my cousins and we were all frightened to death by those super scary witches! To this day, I still feel that it is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen ( and I saw the “Jaws” movies around the same time!).

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My cousins and I were so inspired by the film, that we enacted many of the scenes in our make-believe games, and made up our own stories about witches, often featuring the local elderly ladies, and the ancient paintings my granny had of farms and farmer’s wives. We were just convinced we saw the ladies in those paintings move!

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When I was seven and started school I believed wholeheartedly that I could move things with my eyes, like Matilda in Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”, and I was so ready for a Trunchbull to overcome!
That year I also started writing my own stories, and many of them were inspired by characters, ideas and plots from Roald Dahl’s magical books.

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Most of the kids in school read Roald Dahl’s books, not because we had to, but because we wanted to. We discussed his books during recess and swapped books if someone had a book someone else hadn’t read. I remember my best friends favorite book was “George’s marvelous medicine”.

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Roald Dahl and his magical universe is still inspiring me and my writing today. I have re-read “Matilda” many times, and I continue to take great pleasure in his wonderful books and his marvelous imagination. He is one of my childhood heroes, whose stories I have brought with me into adulthood and into my own stories.

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Image credit: All the art work is by the wonderful Quentin Blake. The stills are from the movie “The Witches”. The other pictures are from Wikimedia.