One of the most thrilling things about writing for children is that it lets me tap into some of my fondest, most fun memories about being a kid. And--since I write mostly fantasy or fantastical elements--it makes me remember the magic of my childhood. And I don't mean in the nostalgic, wasn't-childhood-magical sense. I mean in the sense that there are places and things for all children that seem like more than they are: the curtain we want to peek behind or the stuffed animal that seems to have changed position in the middle of the night.
Here is one of my places:
The walk home from the bus stop to my house involved going by a tiny, gated area that was a nature preserve. There was a stern 'No Trespassing' sign with a fine threat outside the gate, and inside the gate the trees were so dense that it was impossible to see how far the little wooded area went or what was actually within it.
From elementary school all the way up to high school, I wondered about what could possibly be inside that gated area. I imagined all sorts of things: portals and fantastic creatures or, my favorite, a Secret Garden-esque place I could go and read in where time would stop in the outside world and no one would notice I was missing.
As part of my college entrance portfolio, I was required to write a short story. I wrote about my walk home from the bus stop starring the gated area. In The Mapmaker and the Ghost, my main character, Goldenrod, decides to map the forest by her house. The enchanted and quirky place she enters is an expanded version of my untrespassed woods. And the latest book I'm writing? It's a new middle grade fantasy wherein a small wooded area has made its way into a crucial scene.
As a child, I often wanted to flagrantly disregard that scary sign, open the gate, and solve the mystery of that little area once and for all. I'm glad I never did because now I get to solve that mystery over and over again in the best way that will suit my latest adventure in fiction.
Do you remember the magical places or things from your childhood? Or, conversely, was there a place that a book or movie inspired you to think was magical?