Builders of Imagination

Humans are builders. We are all given different talents and resources in life that we use to try to construct happiness for ourselves and for those we love. This continuous process of creation is not only quintessentially human but also the most common thing all animals do. All animals build, humans just take it to another level.

We write and read books, make and play games, create and watch movies, paint and sculpt stories, weave musical ballads and landscapes. We are able to envision other lives and share those visions with others. I think that’s an amazing facility. We believe that we’re unique, as humans, for building by using our prodigious imagination. We don’t only build in physical and social realms, we craft fully imaginary worlds populated with people and other creatures. Perhaps whales, apes, or even other animals — the octopus? a colony of termites? — also dream up stories. It’s hard to know.

I have always lived in my imagination. As a child, I made elaborate sets and toys to act out stories for myself and my friends. Our apartment gradually filled with paper and fabric cities, castles, and little animals made from scraps; I used to make mermaids from dried up rubber cement. Occasionally, my mother would reach her limit and, when I returned from school, all would be gone — a blank slate to begin again, a repeating cycle of creation and destruction.

As a reader, I find books particularly immersive because I am an active partner with the author in the creation of these alternate realities. Why should production designers and cinematographers have all the fun? Authors depend on their readers’ imaginations to bring their narratives to life. Readers actively engage in world-building to transform the vision of authors into a rich personal experience. Moreover, reading didn’t take up nearly as much space on the floor of our apartment or require as much glue and cardboard. Now, with ebooks, it doesn’t even require physical storage. (PS: Books make excellent building blocks in the absence of other construction toys.) And now with ebooks, reading doesn’t even require physical storage of books!

physical books can kill you, ebooks is the healthy choice

I am lucky that I not only read but I also get to write stories. Like any skill, imagination grows more potent and creative with practice. The more stories I write, the more seamless the flow of creation becomes. Not being particularly extroverted, I find imaginary relationships easier to handle than real ones. Yet these fictional characters continually surprise me, proving as unpredictable as their real-life counterparts, leading rich and intricate lives. It’s all I can do to wrangle them within the confines of a story I am trying to tell.

Adventures Into High Strangeness

Time hurtles forward at an astonishing pace. The holiday season is upon us again, a time for family gatherings and fun with friends. Yet, when you need a brief escape within your mind, consider a good story — be it a book, a movie, or a narrative game. It’s nice to experience someone else’s reality for a change. To aid in this, I’ve collaborated with a few authors in a holiday giveaway, featuring two of my novels: Lizard Girl and Ghost and Mirror Shards. Take a side trip into strangeness. Collect as many stories as appeal to you. Share them with others that need some head space during the festivities. Bring joy to that introvert in the corner happy. And have a splendid winter season!

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Here are the books for your enjoyment:
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