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New book takes children on flight of fantasy
Ann Marie Myers recently launched her debut children’s novel, Up in the Air, at Paper Based Bookshop in St Ann’s.
Myers, 55, is a freelance translator and mother based in Canada who’s loved writing since childhood. While growing up in Port-of-Spain, Myers became enthralled by Enid Blyton’s children’s books and CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series.
In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, Myers shared that she was 17 when it occurred to her that she could be a writer. Myers wouldn’t start writing seriously, however, until 1990.
She is a graduate of Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia and has worked for the United Nations in New York. Even though she’s lived abroad since 1983, Myers remains in touch with Trinidadian current events and visits Trinidad often to see family. Yet, she doesn’t consider herself a Caribbean writer as such.
“I consider myself a writer, but I don’t limit myself to Caribbean ideas,” she said. Up in the Air is “pure fantasy” and has nothing to do with the islands, she added.
Up in the Air’s protagonist, Melody, is granted her life-long wish of flying when she finds herself in Chimeroan, a mystical land. Although Melody’s dream comes true, flying comes with a price.
Melody has to overcome a recent accident that left her father paralysed and which she feels guilty for escaping unharmed. When Melody first enters Chimeroan, the choice to fly seems straightforward. In this excerpt from the book, Melody’s choice seems easy:
My parents will freak out when they don’t see me. They’ll think I’ve been kidnapped. I run my fingers through my damp, limp hair, and picture Dad in his wheelchair, lifting weights ten times a day and dragging his paralysed legs when he walks with crutches. Then there’s Mom who always has some kind of food in her mouth. And school, where everyone thinks I’m stuck-up because I won’t play with them.
Here, on Chimeroan, dreams come true. I have a chance to get wings. And fly like I’ve always wanted, playing in the clouds with the wind on my face.
“I’m sorry, Dad. Sorry, Mom,” I whisper, then face Sara. “I’ll stay.”
By the end of the novel, however, it becomes obvious that Melody’s choice to stay is nowhere near as easy. As an adult who enjoyed book series such as Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games, Myers’ foray into fantasy writing was natural. Her focus on children’s stories came after her daughter was born.
“After she was born I started thinking a lot about what types of books she would be interested in,” she said. According to Myers, her daughter loves Up in the Air and that is one particularly satisfying aspect of writing.
While the date for Up in the Air’s Canadian launch has not yet been set, Myers already has plans for another novel, which will be based in Trinidad and meld fantasy and folklore.
An excerpt from Chapter Three of Up in the Air, Exit Points
“Are all the teenagers guides?” I ask Sara as we zigzag through the crowd in the direction of the woods.
“So why are they wearing costumes?”
“Are you sure they’re costumes?” she says.
“What?” Of course they’re not. This is a place where dreams come true. “So, that group of Supermen over there can actually send laser beams out of their eyes?”
I gasp. “They’re real, live Supermen?”
I turn around in time to see the dragons leap into the air, a child on the back of each of them.
“Don’t tell me the dragons are guides, too,” I say.
“You got it.” Sara says. “That’s very perceptive of you, Melody.”
“But...I was joking. The kids riding them are their Guided? And they’ll become dragons? Like how people turn into werewolves?”
“If that is their dream,” Sara says.
Thoughts boomerang about in my brain and make me dizzy. I’m in a place where dreams—all dreams—come true. I’ll get wings. And fly. The children over there will become Star Wars characters like their guides. The witches are real, the Supermen, even those strange looking teenagers with blue and green skin are some kind of real alien, something or other. It’s hard to imagine the eight boys and girls next to the centaurs will soon have forelegs instead of arms. Their bodies will change, and—
An awful image forms in my mind. “What about my wings?
They won’t grow out of my back, will they?”
Sara laughs. “Of course not, silly.”
“They strap on? Oh, good.” I’m so glad to dismiss the picture of wings sprouting out of my skin. Sara points to a nearby group. “There are the other flier guides and Guided. Come.”
I zone in on the guides’ wings, which are all different colours and shapes. If only they’d unfurl and lift the guides into the air. A light flashes in my eyes. Shapes blur into colours, except for two trees in the woods; they stand out from the rest, the bark a deeper brown. The way the greenish yellow leaves sway in the wind is different, too. No, not sway exactly—more like glide, as if they’re about to fall off.
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