Like most responsible writers, I try to do basic research on various subjects that become part of my books. I freely admit that much of my research is done on the internet with an occassional dip into my library for the really arcane stuff. And I also go one further and admit that it IS basic. As one of my writing instructors said, "When I ask you what time it is, don't tell me how to make the watch. Show me the watch face." Well I like to at least be able to tell time, just in case the other guy can't.
In my current work in progress there is a tooth faery. Now you might think that there is a plethora of material about tooth faeries. You might think that, but you would be wrong. Wrong I tell you! There is nothing out there about tooth faeries. Not even in a book about faeries. Or the book about magical critters. Or...
There are a lot of websites that would willingly sell me a tooth faery box. Or a tooth faery pillow. Or a tooth faery book. But for the real nitty gritty on tooth faeries, I located five or six sites that all had the same information (mostly copied word for word from each other--I thought that was called plagarism, but what do I know?)
But the basic information is: 1)Vikings had a tooth fee. 2) Asians have a tradition of throwing the tooth over the roof or under the house depending on the original position of the tooth. 3) In the medieval ages teeth were buried or burned to prevent witches from using them for nefarious purposes. There are some very minor variations which struck me as the authors stretching out the info to make it look like more. Notice that none of the them actually mention faeries.
What to do? After some more pondering with the aid of a mocha latte followed by a teeny glass of wine accompanied by a chocolate bar, I settled on a solution. Make it up as I go. Hey! I'm a writer and I'm supposed to make up stories, right? So, I'll come up with my own origins for the tooth faery. Now that I've thought about it, maybe the tooth faery belongs to a UNION! And there has to be more than one, because how would they get around to all those teeth that fall out?
I have heard some pretty scary stories about the escalating exchange rate for teeth these days. It seems that if there was a tooth faery union, then parents should be able to negotiate for a fair exchange rate with set limits. After all, what is fair about some kid that gets thirty dollars when their little friend receives fifty cents?
And why should a faery be stuck with wings? Really, have you thought about how difficult it must be to sleep on your back with wings poking out? What about swimming or riding a bike. What do you do with the wings in the shower? How the heck do you dry them? And clothes? Please, let's not go there.
And why should faeries be stuck with honey and nectar. Ewww! I say give 'em a steak. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
As you can tell, I've really taken this entire thing to heart. My philosophy is if you're going to make it up, then make it believable. Think out all the details. Plan ahead so you don't paint your faery into a corner.
Tomorrow my second book, Dancer's Delight will be released from Cerridwen Press. In the book which mostly takes place in a mysterious valley, there are some pretty strange beings. I'm posting a quick little introduction to some of them for your enjoyment.
Merlyn had taken the morning to show him around the village, introducing him to the villagers as they encountered them and answering his questions. The packits padded along behind them, acting exactly like they were intently listening to the conversation. Finally, nervously, Dancer nodded toward the two animals and asked, “Why are they following us? They look like they’re eavesdropping.”
“Probably because they are,” Merlyn replied mildly. “Packits are sentient creatures. If they choose, they can mind talk with you.” He smiled at Dancer’s shocked face. “On the oldest part of the Talking Wall, they are one of the listed sacred beings, with the charge to protect and revere them. There’s a long tradition of some individuals adopting particularly talented young men and serving as advisors and guides.”
“Stop.” Dancer plopped down on the bench in front of the bakery and crossed his arms, hugging his chest. “Just stop a minute. What exactly is a Talking Wall?”
With a soft laugh, Merlyn joined him on the bench and stretched his long legs out in front of him. “The Talking Wall is an enormous hanging wall, about sixty feet high and maybe a hundred feet long. It’s a good three day walk from here at the other end of the valley. Small glyphs the size of my palm are inscribed over the entire surface. It contains history, laws and instructions for living. At the moment, less than a third of it has been translated, so we don’t know what other information it may contain. Dai and I have been hoping that there’s something on there that explains the passages into the caves from the out-valley. There’s a whole raft of archivists that do nothing else except work on the wall.”
“And the packits are listed on the wall?”
“Uh-hmm. Packits, dintis, firkas and drangs…though Dai has never seen a drang and he thinks they’re probably extinct.”
Dancer sighed deeply, pinched the bridge of his nose and asked, even as he knew he shouldn’t, “What is a drang? And those other two things you mentioned?”
Merlyn grinned at Dancer’s obvious frustration, remembering his own incredulity when he and Jade had arrived in the valley. With a certain amount of anticipation, he relished Dancer’s reaction as he elaborated, “Dintis resemble very large, very long-haired dogs. Their older females occasionally adopt a promising young lady. Twice a year they present themselves to the dinti keeper and shearer to get their hair cut. The hair is carefully preserved and used in the bonding blankets Tyger weaves.” He paused when a vague choking sound escaped Dancer, then, after a moment he continued, “Firkas look sort of like gerbils or hamsters. Eppie has a family of firkas living in her garden, so if you see something that looks like a mouse, don’t kill it. Most gardens have firkas. They eat garden pests and certain weeds, but once you tell them a plant is off limits, they never touch it.”
Dancer bent over and moaned.
Chuckling, Merlyn just patted his back. “Now drangs are an entirely different thing. They’re small dragons. According to the Wall, a drang will appear and adopt an individual who is exceptionally important to the valley, serving as a mentor for the rest of that individual’s life. No one in the valley has seen a drang in living memory, so…”
“They’re extinct, or there hasn’t been anyone important enough for a drang,” Dancer concluded sourly. “Maybe you can answer another questions for me… Why does Eppie have a small dragon identical to mine on her left shoulder? She’s named Epona for the horse goddess. Why not a horse?”