Ah! So to day 6 of the A-Z blog challenge and here I am about to write of the most abhorrent, repulsive, disgusting food stuff known to mankind. That’s right: Mushrooms. (Now just hold your horses before you go all pro-mushroom on me.)
“This is an A-Z blog guide to your novel “Prophecy of Innocence isn’t it?”
Yes dear reader, it is. As to how mushrooms and toadstools ever became an integral part of my novel I’ll never know. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision. Like many aspects of story writing some things just…well…evolve.
However I will attempt to explain, perhaps not why they came to be there but what purpose they serve now they are there.
So to begin. My main protagonist is a design engineer. (More on him when we get to the letter P.) I needed something which he could ‘design engineer’ at and, having worked in an umbrella factory in my student days, I made a strange link. I don’t know what made me think “Oh I know, he can make umbrellas out of fungi.” It perhaps may be to do with the fairy tale visual of a red and white spotted toadstool which did it. Combined with a photograph I had of one taken by an ex-boyfriend who happened to be a design engineer (though obviously not with toadstools or mushrooms) perhaps all the jigsaw pieces slotted together. I don’t know exactly what it was but once it was there, there it lodged.
Mushrooms and toadstools feature quite heavily in the story as a result. Firstly, The main protagonists’s father dies from being poisoned by a mushroom. (Don’t worry this is not a plot spoiler. It’s a back-story piece of information.)The mushrooms are also used as food of course (uuurgh). They are made into umbrellas known as ‘stoolbrellas at the factory the main protagonist owns and finally they are used in burial rituals.
Now as you can tell I am not a fan of fungi. It’s the one food I cannot abide at all. I’ll eat anything put in front of me pretty much but mushrooms? Not a chance of those things passing my lips. So I do find it amusing they’ve ended up being a major feature in the book.
Out in nature they are another story though. I do find them amazingly fascinating to look at. I actually think most are very pretty. When one of my friends bought me a junior field guide of fungi as a joke, I rolled my eyes and sniggered. Oh ha ha! Very funny and off it went to my garage into a box full of books.
But then when I suddenly had this growing idea for the role of fungi related products in my WIP the joke was on her as I hurried down to retrieve the book and made sketches and notes on a whole variety of fungi to suit the purposes for which my characters would use them. Bonus.
I have hit on many problems though. The main one being that obviously mushrooms and toadstools grow up above ground. They have no real robust roots to speak of so how the heck do my little underground elflings get hold of them and bring them down through the ground? I grappled with whether to even explain this in a children’s fantasy book. Does it need explaining considering elflings don’t exist? But there is a certain amount of realistic features to the story and so there is a point where it is mentioned. Because I work with kids and although they can indulge in fantasy, as can we all, there are just some things they will ask about. However there is no where near as much explaining as there was originally. I think in my first draft I may have practically written an actual field guide myself. Thank goodness for re-writes and edits!