Way, way back when life was so very much different…

It’s a weird word that describes a process where a bunch of people get together and throw ideas around, though others may have different permutations on what brainstorming is.

Reading through the current blogs sent to my reader, the word ‘brainstorming’ got my attention.

I use it, well, I try to use it.

I’m working on a YA novel, you know the sort, a far off land where there’s kingdoms, kings, queens, princes, and princesses, witches, no dragons and the jury’s still out on a unicorn.

I have two grandchildren, both girls, who wanted me to write a story for them.  Not that thriller stuff, or murder, but what sort of life they’d like to have in they could live in a different world.

Fortunately, both still have an imagination, a prime requisite for them to transition through their childhood to young adult, smoothing out the bumps.  They are avid readers, so I have an untapped source of ideas.

Or so you would think.

This is how it started:  I told the eldest, 16 years old, to stop acting like a princess.  She didn’t get the inference because it was an ‘adult’ concept when dealing with children.

What she did say was how she was going to be a princess when she grew up.  I said there were not enough real-life princes to go around, a point she took on board with all the aplomb of a 16-year-old, so it graduated to becoming a princess in a story.

Somehow she ended up with the name Marigold.

She decided Marigold was going to be a haughty, self-indulgent, spoilt brat.  That condescending tone, those flicks of the hair, those sharp put-downs, a princess indeed.   It was as if she already had acting lessons from the Disney ‘bad princess’ school of acting, according to her mother.

And she was in the wizard of oz, perhaps she was channeling the wicked witch of the west.

But …

As all haughty and condescending people do, the princess is taught an invaluable lesson in humility when her Kingdom is invaded, her brother, next in line to the throne, murdered, the king thrown in the dungeons, and her mother stabbed and left for dead.  She flees the castle and her betrothed prince who is leading the invasion of their Kingdom and is suddenly both unworthy and dangerous

The first few ‘brainstorming’ sessions saw the addition of two sisters (her two cousins, one 13 and other 10), the first a healer (another name for a witch as witches are outlawed in her Kingdom), who likes to play with alchemy but doesn’t yet know about magic spells and other special talents all of which she will need if she’s going to save her family and the land.

The younger, of course, had no specific role except to get under feet, and practice her workmanship with a wooden sword carved by her older brother.

It’s been done before, but this is without the Knight in shining armor, and where a young princess who has never had to fend for herself, has to come to grips with a completely alien environment, and the fact none of her companions believe she is going to be of any help whatsoever.

Several sessions later we came up with the quest.

What has surprised me, for a generation of children brought up with video games, endless violence, and the endless pressures on youth these days against what I had in my day, they have this amazing ability to take a step back and see themselves in such a different light.

I’ve always had an overactive imagination borne from a time where we didn’t have any of the facilities children have these days.  We had to make our own adventures, not live them out on TV and in video games.

I dragged them into my world, and now, together, we have a bond that will never be shaken.  I am the storyteller, they are Marigold, Ophelia, and Nerida, princesses.

They are as different as chalk and cheese.  Ophelia wants her own story, the princess who battles against the magic within her.  Nerida has a quite simple aim in life, having been taught swordplay by her brother, she wants to slay a dragon.

The first story is about two thirds finished, and I was told the other day, there are at least another ten stories yet to be told.

I guess it’s time to go back to ‘brainstorming’.

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