Guest post: The Alchemy of Imagination by Robin Bennett

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Risingshadow has an opportunity to feature a guest post by Robin Bennett, who is the author of Buk.

Buk by Robin Bennett
by Robin Bennett

A modern re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland on its 150th Anniversary, Buk is a celebration of enchanting magical realism children’s books.

Nancy’s mother is having a baby and it is making her ill; Nancy’s father is angry with her mother because they can’t afford the baby; Nancy is angry with everyone.

Then she starts to see things... things that should only happen in fairytales. Is Buk a sign she is going mad or is he there to save her?

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GUEST POST: The Alchemy of Imagination by Robin Bennett

A child psychologist who sometimes works at our children’s school once told me that, up until the age of about 7 or 8 a child sees very little distinction between play and the ‘real’ world.

This blurring of the lines is quite a neat trick but I think it also serves a very important practical purpose, giving children a ‘fantastic’ buffer against the harsh realities of life (and heaven-knows they need it sometimes).

Buk is about that stage in life where we begin to be able to face the world for what it really is: we toughen up – or most of us do. The casualty is what I call the ‘alchemy of imagination’, when pretending to be a princess, a superhero or a sorcerer for a couple of hours a day is every bit as vital and real as number bonds or fighting over the middle seat in the car with your brother.

In a very big way, Buk is my take on the Alice story: the protagonist is about the same age, and the blurring of the lines between what is happening in her life and her head drives the story.

It was my first foray into magic realism and this is the first time it has been properly in print. Initially, I saw it purely as an audio performance by the very talented Imogen Stubbs with music by the equally-talented classical performer and composer, Tatiana Tindall.

It pops up from time-to-time on my playlist – random chapters between my 90s indie bands and the kids’ current favourites. And it always feels like a gem: Tatiana’s lovely piano intros and Imogen’s young-old voice capture Nancy’s passion and fury. She’s my Alice with a postmodern kick.

And the point of it is I wanted to show teens and young adults that it is still OK to slip into make believe even after you’re not allowed to dress up and run around the garden: there’s strength in imagination. It protects and it gives life much-needed lyricism. But above all - there’s still a lot of fun to be had.

In the immortal words of Amy LaVere (and somebody who is also on my playlist)

My heart keeps me amused,
In this great big world of confusion,
I’m a dreamer …
Hallelujah, I'm a dreamer.

Buk: if you love what you have, the world belongs to you. Out in exquisite paperback 15th June.