Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Author Series #19: Inspiration by Laurel Wilczek

How imaginative were you as a child? I know I spent countless hours daydreaming and pretending, exploring the hills and hollows of my Kentucky home. I think we have to hang on to our childhood gift of imagination if we want our writing to resonate with our readers. Read this beautiful piece from author Laurel Wilczek to see how she draws inspiration from the magic of her childhood.


I grew up in Yardley, Pennsylvania, a town that I have carried around inside me all my life. A town full of mystical places. A black-water pond  infested with vicious snapping turtles. A mansion, with underground tunnels rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of slaves who traveled the Underground Railroad. A milky canal, home to catfish, leeches, and countless sneakers tossed from the wooden bridge.

Oh yes, and an apple orchard.

Picture this:

A leap out the back door, through air sweetened by lilac and the drone of honey bees at work. Twenty steps across the slick grass to the three-trunk oak. Forty steps to the white gate with the iron latch.  No lock. Behind it? Acres and acres of wild land. Apples. Plums. Peaches. Poison Ivy. Sand pits. Eight-foot-high thorn patches. Sand hills, fifty-feet high! Quicksand, who knows how deep? A water reservoir. A junkyard. A patch of sun-scorched ground infested by trees that no longer bloom.

Now imagine this:

Peter's Gate. You know Peter. No? Maybe you know Peter's not-so-nice stalker, the wolf?  Peter and his wolf are legendary.

Picture Peter's gate open. Standing on the brink of that undiscovered country:  One six-year-old girl with a paper lunch bag in one hand, a net in the other, a mesh sack stuffed in the waistband of her jeans, a rinsed-out milk carton tucked under her arm, new Ked's sneakers on her feet, and the thrill of an impending hunt tickling her stomach.

At the back of the orchard, south of the gate, there is a water reservoir. In the folds of shadowed current, the frogs grow into monstrous creatures with ping-pong eyes and wide-slit mouths that gape open like gutter spouts as they drift beneath the surface of the water.

Clumps of moss at first sight. Exquisite dragon babies to child sight. 

West of the reservoir, beyond a barrier of ground choked by weed and thorn, there is a gully filled with junk. A motley collection of gutted kitchen appliances, rusted car frames, bicycles without tires, mildew-stained mattresses, broken dishes, plastic toys, garbage bags bursting with ratty clothing, an abandoned trailer broken into two pieces, and an ice cream truck stripped to a hollow-eyed carcass. 

Buy it HERE!
A gully of rat-infested junk at first sight. A troll's hideout to child sight.

East of the reservoir, past the peach trees and barbed-wire fence, there is a red desert. Great mountains of sand lapped by rain and July heat into blood-colored stone. Apple trees whittled of leaf and wrapped with dead ivy. 
Naked ground gnawed by the teeth of a Styx wind.

A dumping ground for construction material at first sight. The demon underworld to child sight.

The sky above the orchard is filled with the glint of phoenix feather, the air, with the graveled song of the Jabberwocky. When the unharvested apples fall, it is the soft beat of Pan's goat hooves on earth. When the wind blows it is the rustle of the wolf stirring in his den.

An untended orchard at first sight. A realm of magic to child sight.

This is where my ideas are seeded and grown. My mindscape, guarded by the specter of a child who opened Peter's Gate and never closed it.  In my heart, romps a child muse still at large in the wild woods of an orchard long gone from this world.

In my mind,

I am child.
I am wolf.
I am writer.

We are hunter and prey.
Wanderer and guardian.
And we all live together in my orchard.


 Laurel Wilczek grew up in Yardley, Pennsylvania, a quaint little town that had its share of mystical black water ponds, milky canals, and magical orchards. A graduate of Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., Laurel writes literary fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Her short stories have appeared in T-Zero Literary Magazine, The Forward Papers, and Be a Better Writer. Writing under the pen name, Ravenne Law, Laurel enjoys exploring the dark fantasy. She is currently working on a 98,000 word Fantasy titled "Spells & Tells." Laurel lives with her husband, daughter, three nosy dogs and a cockatiel in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

The Raven's Eye Blog:     www.ravenlaw.wordpress.com

The Ravenne's Pie:    www.wilczek.writeronline.com/100/


  1. The many times I walked the orchard behind our house I saw the reason we bought it as the 'perfect' place to raise our children. Immediately behind lay the remains of a once-vibrant land with apple, peach and pear trees that now lay dying following the death of its owner. Lori saw so much more. Thanks for sharing this because it is the story of life - good and bad, birth and death and the impression it makes on our choices in life. Keep writing,Lori, you have a lot to give to others to help them open their eyes to the truth that lies within us all.
    Love you, Mom

  2. Hiya Laurel's Mom! I bet you're so proud of your daughter. She's lucky to have such a supportive mama :)Thanks for stopping by, and drop in anytime!


  3. Laurel, this is an incredible post!! Your imagery is exquisite, your structure is like poetry, and your theme echoes in all of us. I'm so glad I stopped by Mysti's blog today. Now I want to go back and read your post all over again. :)

  4. I love you girl and keep on writing
    yours always hubby

  5. Dear Mom, I suppose I ought to confess that I sort of left the yard when you weren't looking. :) Thanks for stopping by. It's nice to know you're still watching over me. Love you very much!

    Hey Mysti, Thanks so much for the opportunity to be a guest on your fab. blog. I've really enjoyed the Author Series.

    Hi Von, Thank you for your kind comments. I'm so glad you liked the post. :)

    Dear Hubby, A compliment will get you a smile. A kiss will get you a smile and oven-baked salmon for dinner. :) Love you honey.

  6. Thanks also to hubby and Von! What a treat this post was to help wrap up the March series. I read it out loud just to hear the beautiful wording :)


  7. Great reading! Thanks for sharing. :)

  8. What wonderful visualisation and imagery - I could relive the hoe and the yard through your writings! I wish I could return to the orchard....to simpler times....

    Wonderful job!

    1. Oops! >>>home -----> Hoe<<<<

      It's too early in the AM!!

  9. Oh Baby Sister, you brought me back almost 50 years! Loved the memory walk :D -- As always, I love your lyrical story-telling...it engages another piece of the old gray matter....:) Love, your admiring sister Carole

  10. Hi Chrissy: Thanks for taking the time to visit Mysti's blog and read my post. I'm sure you are already creating the memories for Mara. :) Just so you know, I have memories dating back to when I was two years old. Ah, the wonder of lying in the grass,watching ant mounds grow.

    Hi Flutetoot: great handle, btw. Heh. I hear you on going back to those simple days. Do you remember having nothing better to do than eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while sitting ten feet up in a tree? :) Thank you for stopping in to read my post.

    Hi Carole: Isn't it funny how some memories are so vivid you feel as if you are standing in them even though they are decades old? It was a good place. Definitely magical. Otherwise, I would have gotten poison ivy from climbing those apple trees. :) Thank you for stopping in to read my post. Love you.

  11. Mom, I just read this blog post and I wanted to say that as usual you manage to really leave me breathless and... wordless. Your imagery is so powerful it reels the reader into your world, your childhood.

    You made me long for what you had.

    When you and I drove through Yardley, I saw very little of your memories there. I could tell in your face that things had changed. You had that far-off look of someone trying to find the familiar lines and familiar paths of a place they once knew so well. Where were the bullfrogs? Where were the streets you used to play, the old shops, the orchard...

    I think I had expected dragons, but more than that I had expected that wild forest of peaches and plumbs... not a tall, cold, white office building overshadowing an old house nestled into an old yard.

    I feel like the main character from your short story "Catfish Days"

    I felt cheated. Like I reached into a cookie jar and found nothing but crumbs at the bottom, the remnants of someone else's happiness.

    The only time I get to see the orchard is when I read your memories, I suppose it's better that way because it's more textural and wild, it's the way I would want to see it. More vivid than life really is. To me it will always be an exquisite dream.

  12. Hey Alec,

    Picture this: You are three years old and we are standing on the front deck. You are holding two small plastic bubble hoops in front of a house fan, creating a fleet of shimmering bubbles. I have the huge bubble-maker loop and I am making six foot bubbles that drift through the yard like mutant dirigibles. Perched on the railing are eight multi-colored bottles of bubbles. Your sister is running back and forth with a hand-held fan, creating her own cluster of glistening orbs with a hand-held fan.

    We have breathed a storm of glistening worlds.

    Now look past our fence at the road. Up on the street, a minivan has stopped and the people inside, a mom and her kids, are peering at the iridescent globes drifting on swirling air currents. The children squeal. The van shakes. The mother is smiling.

    Do you remember that day?

    We were weaving magic.

    The mother in the short story "Catfish Days" never passed on "good days" to her son. That's why he felt disconnected and cheated. I've made sure you've had your own "good days." They are inside you, waiting to emerge in your own writing. The trick is to reach inside YOUR cookie jar and find the good stuff.



  13. This is my first time visiting your blog. I too remember visiting those orchards on occasion. I am so impressed with your writing you have taken me back to a wonderful and peaceful time.

  14. In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —
    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —
    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

  15. Hi Scout,

    Thanks for stopping in. I'm always happy to share the shade of an apple tree with a fellow dreamer.

    :) Laurel

    Hi Anonymous,

    Ah the lure of the raven's song will never lose its magic. That is one of my favorite poems. Big surprise? Thank you for stopping by to read my work.


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