Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hidden Surprises

I had hoped that I’d be able to announce that I’d finished the first draft of book three today. But it’s not quite done. The first draft is longer than I anticipated because twists that I hadn’t planned came together at the end.

One of the twists involved a hiding place (don’t worry, I won’t give you any big spoilers). And I got to thinking about hiding places and how much I like them. Screwing Up Time had hidden passages and a secret document cache. I think the idea of finding something hidden appeals to everyone. Though maybe as adults it’s less so. Maybe we’ve become too jaded.

But I love how children still look for hidden things. In our living room we have a massive armoire. It’s an antique from France. In the middle it has a thick mirror backed with quicksilver (mercury). When children, especially young ones, walk into our house, it’s among the first things they notice. Because it’s an old mirror, it has much more dimensionality than modern mirrors. (And it’s very flattering too.) It really does look like you’re staring at your twin. Even older kids reach out to touch the mirror.

Then, they usually look at me. There’s wistfulness in their eyes and I know they’ve read The Chronicles of Narnia. I ask the child, “Would you like to look inside?” The child always nods his/her head. I warn them, “I wish it were a passage to Narnia. But it only holds linens—tablecloths, place mats, and bedding.” They nod, still hoping.

Finally, I open the door. They peer inside. I say, “Go ahead. You may touch the back and make sure it’s there.” And they do.

Part of me is always sad when they feel the wood at the back. But strangely, the kids are always thankful. They give me a smile and I feel for a moment as if we’ve shared a common hope—a wistful sense of literary intrusion in the real world.

The other day I decided that I’m going to get a fancy bowl and fill it with candy and put it in the back of the armoire. That way, there will be something for the children to discover after all. Not quite the same as Narnia, but a happy surprise anyway.

Here's a photo of the armoire I took this morning. It doesn't give you the best sense of its size, but I'm standing about  ten feet away from the armoire.


  1. Wow... I think if I encountered that thing now, I would open it carefully, wondering if I would find Narnia on the other side.

    Good luck finishing book three. I just picked up book one and I'm enjoying it so far. :)

  2. Thanks for stopping by the blog, Aaron! And I'm so glad you're enjoying Screwing Up Time.

  3. I felt sad reading that. It's funny how even when you're grown you still hope that one day that wall in the back of the closet will lead somewhere :) Great idea with the candy bowl!

  4. Waiting for your next book about the effect of politicians in the US today. Yes, you know what the title would be!

  5. Along These Lines,
    Thanks for the laugh this morning!

  6. The wonderment of imagination. LOVE IT!

  7. Your post shows how strongly stories live deep within us. Even though the children you've let touch the back of the armoire have felt the solid wood, I guarantee you it will re-appear in their dreams and the wood will be gone :)