Saturday 11 June 2016

Absorption and Other Worlds

Have you felt it? Yes, I feel certain you have felt it, the feeling of being IN THE SCENE while reading an extraordinarily good book.

Many years ago, I felt that way while reading Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, in particular the stories of Rikki Tikki the mongoose. He was guarding the young boy of the house from the deadly cobra and it wanted revenge in an eye-for-an-eye kind of way for Rikki Tikki killing its partner. The two of them stood off, dead-locked in an animal's Mexican Standoff, each holding something precious to the other as a bargaining tool when "Is Chris Johnson part of this spelling test, Mrs Schwarten?"

It was Mr Holmes', his voice cutting through the movie playing in my head. My head popped up, back to reality, and I realised that the Friday spelling test had already started without my realising it. I felt so embarrassed, having missed the first seven words of the ten-word test, all because the book captured my mind and attention completely.

I remember, after the test, as we held up our test scores for the teacher to observe as she walked along to read them. Our results were recorded as a bar graph, showing each week's score. Mine showed a plateau of 10/10, as I normally scored perfectly, and ended with a dismal 3/10. Mrs Schwarten stopped at my desk when she saw it, and an almost imperceptible smile crossed her face but she quickly resumed a blank expression. Moving her eyes to my desk, she saw the Jungle Book and picked it up. She asked if it was really such a good book, and I silently nodded in shame-faced agreement. I felt mixed emotions because I saw the funny side, even though incredible disappointment flooded me for achieving the low spelling test result; I used to feel great pride for my ability in spelling and English.

I saw a smile sneak back to her face as she walked on to check out Adrian Bridge's spelling result. Thirty-four years later, two weeks ago, Mrs Schwarten told me she was secretly amused as she could relate to the ability of books to whisk her away to another world.

Back then, I promised myself I would never let that happen again. Thankfully I can't keep that promise as it is the power of a writer to be able to do that, create worlds, spin imagination into an alternate reality, and suck us into them.

I felt it while reading JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone the other night.

Thankfully I experienced the same thing when writing another chapter on my current Work In Progress which I am calling "Dead Cell". In it, there are two characters having a heated discussion. You see, there are car accidents happening all over the city and one of the pair believe they are not mere accidents; he believes they are deaths by supernatural causes and his opposition believes they are merely accidents. He's psychic and she's a sceptic, so you can understand the heated debate that can come from that, and then there's the growing sexual tension between the two polar opposites.

The alarm stopped me at 874 words, just when things were getting realllly interesting when I felt myself rudely brought back to this world. I hope that when it is published, you feel the same when reading it.

When is the last time you felt so in tune with a book that it drew you into its story and you felt you were there? Please, share your experience below.

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