I saw this boy hiking past a favorite boulder of mine on the local mountain I haunt. The light was
in the magic zone when gray and beige granite turns golden as the sun sinks toward the horizon.
I shot the picture (on my uber-cellphone) and remembered a character from my YA fantasy currently in revision repose. That's my new terminology for: I had to put it aside or go bonkers.
The character's name is Samuel and he is a 12-year-old with little education, strange speech patterns and a gift for storytelling. One of his tales is about a place called Thane's Tor. He and the novel's protagonist, Fiona, are searching for it. She asks why he is certain he will recognize that particular outcrop of boulders in the rocky terrain they are traveling.
"Simple as flatcakes. Ma telled me Thane's story many a time, and sometimes I took charcoal and drawed the creatures. That's how much I likes it."
Samuel settled back against a fallen tree trunk, ready to spin his tale.
"Once't long, long ago in the far, far-away north lived Thane, a giant amongst men. Now, Thane was a warrior-mage. He could heave boulders big as houses on his enemies and squash them like a worm underfoot."
Samuel stopped to tell Fiona an aside: "Me Ma never said that worm part. But I figured it out."
I'm interrupting this snippet to condense the story: Samuel describes a battle Thane has with goblins. Thane defeats them by turning boulders into beasts that crush the goblins "flat as slapped flies." The creatures, whom Thane changes back into rock, include a dragon-sized snake, enormous wolf, a bird-headed toad and a bunch of gingermen that resemble baker's treats.
"Now I gives you that gingermen do not sound so scary, but methinks if you had an army of gingermen tall as cottages, you 'ud get out the way."
(So on my hike, I think I saw the gingermen. Do you?)
When Samuel tells Fiona the beasts are still guarding Thane's Tor, she says it's just a story.
"Never is just a story. Ma was always a'tellin' me, 'Samuel, remembers you that a story is the bones of the past, and worlds are built upon those as was and ever will be.' The stories be all around just waiting to come alive, can't you see?"
Obviously, storytelling is on my mind. I loved a comment Neil Gaiman put on his blog. Someone asked what quotes he would like to see on library walls, and he said it would be the one every writer loves to hear from reader/listeners:
"...and then what happened?"