Fantasy Author to the Rescue!

Or: Have Mower-Will Travel

The Fantasy Writer at Home

 When you’re a fantasy author, you’re constantly on the lookout for new ideas. You have to be. It’s been said “there is nothing new under the sun.” Maybe that’s true, depending on how specific you care to be.

But the fantasy author has to come up with something new anyway. If you’re going to write a fantasy story, you have no choice but to be creative. Otherwise, you’re just rehashing the same fantasy story that’s been told a thousand times before.

Thoughts like that run through my head when I’m engaged in some mindless task, like doing the dishes or mowing the lawn. As a matter of fact, some of my best ideas as a fantasy writer have come about when I’ve been mowing.

I use a walk-behind mower, because I’m young enough to like the exercise and could use it. It has a self-propel mode I engage by squeezing a handle, because I’m old enough to appreciate it when going up hills or through tough patches of long grass. Regardless, I work up a good sweat and let my mind wander as I follow the slightly wavering line of the swatch I just cut.

Sometimes, it wanders a little too much. That’s my excuse for not noticing the glowing opening in the air appear in front of me. A weird trick of the light interrupted my thoughts about my next series of fantasy novels. What they would be, I had no idea, but I was thinking about them, nevertheless.

I first noticed something was wrong when the mower coughed and died. “What the what?” I thought, having just put gas in it. I was only halfway through the front lawn, so there was no way it was empty.

I peered down at it, trying from my vast height of 5 feet, 11 inches to eagle-eye what the problem was without actually having to bend down. It was no use. The dark red of the mower deck blended in too well with the hard-packed dirt beneath.

The lush green lawn of a fantasy author

The lush green lawn of a dedicated fantasy author

Wait? Hard-packed red dirt? My lawn is a verdant green! Fit for yelling at wayward children to stay the hell off of!

Something was fishy, here. There was only one way to find out what it was, and I knew how to go about it!

I looked up.

“Not again,” I sighed. I hated it when this happened. Mowing along, thinking of how others must surely envy my life as a fantasy author, and wham! Transported to a new world. If it’s happened once, it’s happened a hundred times.

Nothing for it but to see what this place held in store for me. But first…

“Drat,” I cursed, looking around to make sure no tender ears heard me. I hate to be that kind of influence.

And off we go…

 There was no magic portal behind me, ready to whisk me home. It was onward or bust.

Strange landscape that I walked through. The red dirt was omnipresent, looking much like a barren desert, devoid of the slightest bit of moisture. And yet, things grew. Trees, with slender straight trunks, striped like a tiger, were everywhere. They prevented me and my trusty mower from taking a straight path, which was going to make finding my way back to this spot difficult. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be necessary.

There were also round globes of soft, bright green moss, apparently growing on itself, unless there was a rock concealed in the middle. When I tried to pull one apart, it complained so bitterly that I let it be and moved on, mystery still unsolved. Crabby moss.

Scenes like this, that could have been grabbed from a children’s fantasy story, kept appearing, growing more elaborate as I moved forward.

lawn mower

The cold steel of a lawn tamer

Purple cattails, swishing back and forth as they stalked the shallows of a brilliant yellow pond, gave tiny mews of contentment. Elephant grass taller than my head reared back and trumpeted as I pushed my trusty mower past it. It knew a worthy adversary when it saw one.

Finally, I came upon a house, or home, or lair. Whatever it was, it sorely needed upkeep. It was a round structure, with a pointed roof, and arched windows. A wooden door, once painted bright blue but now flaking and peeling, led the way inside. And all around it lay a neglected yard.

Grass. Actual green blades of grass, much too high and uneven to properly be called a lawn, surrounded the house. It was a sight to break this old fantasy author’s heart. Beyond the lawn was more of the fantastic plants that populated this land, but right here was an oasis of civility. Or at least it could be.

“Hello?” I called out, but no one answered. Possibly, the sight of me and my fearsome lawn machine might have been giving them pause. “I mean no harm! Hello?”

Still no answer. So I tried again in Elvish. Nothing. The same went for Polish, Orcish, Swahili, Chinese, Klingon, and Ogre. After that, my command of languages was exhausted.

What’s a poor, lost writer of fantasy stories to do? I fired up my mower, engaged the warp drive—err , self-propel gizmo, I mean—and got to work.

“It’s for your own good!”

The trees and plants on each side drew back in horror as the carnage began. The lawn screamed as if it were being bloodily murdered, but that was to be expected. It’d been a long time, and it was a young lawn. Many children are scared when they get a haircut.

man in lederhosen

You’d think he would have offered me a beer

But soon, everything calmed down and the only noise to be heard was the gentle humming of my 140cc engine. I examined the area with a practiced eye, determined the most efficient pattern, and soon had the place looking ship shape.

Which is when the door opened and the old man in lederhosen came out. He glared at me from beneath bushy eyebrows, shook a gnarled fist at me, and shouted words in a language I didn’t know. Yet, I understand the old gent perfectly well.

He wanted me off his lawn.

The Fantasy Author Returns

 I took my mower and wound my way back through the forest of striped trees and dirt floors. I wasn’t really watching where I was going when I tripped. My foot had tangled in a lush green carpet of beautiful grass.

I looked about in surprise. I was home! My mission was over, and to my mind a complete success.

Now, back to it! After all, my lawn wasn’t going to mow itself, and I still needed to come up with a new fantasy story.

Such is the life of a fantasy author.