The Price of Magic is a special book. It's being published exclusively by students at the University of Southern Queensland. Written by KJ Taylor it explores the idea that magic comes at a cost. It was published on December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with a Disability.
Below is a guest post written by KJ Taylor on a topic that is very relevant to me personally. I hope you enjoy it. Check back later in the week for my review.
When we’re young, we want to believe that life is easy. We choose to believe that those around us are ‘normal’, and that we are too.
But eventually the day comes when we ourselves begin to realise that we are not normal. That we have problems. Some of us are born knowing it. Some of us don’t realise until we’re much older. An unfortunate few never realise it at all – unfortunate because a problem that goes unnoticed will never be dealt with as it should.
Some of us find ourselves confronted with the fact that we are ‘abnormal’, ‘weak’ or ‘broken’. But it is not until later that we realise that this is how everyone feels.
Some of us are depressed. Some of us are anxious. Some of us are mentally or physically handicapped. But just about everyone feels in some way inadequate, whether there’s a label for it or not.
When I was a child I believed I was stupid. This was something ground into me day after day. I couldn’t seem to understand other people properly. I said and did inappropriate things. I had no friends, and was bullied on a regular basis – on at least one occasion by a teacher who felt it was appropriate to publicly humiliate the ‘weird kid’. I hated myself.
Then, at the age of sixteen, I was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Now it all made sense. Now I had a label.
Now I could find half of my personality traits listed in medical books under the heading ‘Symptoms’. It made me feel like less of a person.
As I entered adulthood I developed severe issues with anxiety, sometimes to the point where I was unable to function. I finally did the sensible thing and went to see a series of counsellors who I hoped could help me learn how to cope better with the life I’d found myself living.
While I was sitting in the waiting room, feeling absolutely miserable, I found myself wondering ‘why do I have to be so much of a screw-up? Why are so many creative people so damaged?’
The truth was that my Asperger’s had done me plenty of favours creatively. Having the ‘disorder’ gives me unusual levels of focus and concentration, and because I had to learn through trial and error how other people work I became pretty insightful about how people think (a friend in all seriousness told me she thought I wasn’t really an Aspie because ‘you write characters so well’. I laughed.).
But it also came with downsides, and I felt resentful not to have been given a choice in the matter. I was sick of being ‘abnormal’.
Right there, in the counsellor’s waiting room, The Price of Magic was born. I found myself picturing a world where illness, disability and mental disorders came with the gift of magic. The mages in this novel are, essentially, artists. Unable to function properly in the real world, they seclude themselves and create things for the benefit of others. To make the world a better place.
And the truth of it is, as I later learned, there is no such thing as ‘normal’. Normal is a construct which does nothing but make people feel abnormal. To blazes with ‘normal’. Everyone is weird in their own special way, and all of us have something to give. You are not a disability. You are not an illness. You are you. You are a person. Never be defined by what you cannot do, but instead embrace what you can do. And never, ever, give up on yourself.
Finally, as the character of Ingar is intended to be gender neutral, rather than use the clunky ‘they’, I refer to this character as ‘xe’, which is a gender neutral pronoun. Writing a character without specifically referring to their gender is a lot harder than it sounds, unfortunately.
The Price of Magic has been published by the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective and will be available this coming December. Follow the progress of this inspiring fantasy work on Facebook