Next week I will be reviewing The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster but this week I am interviewing the book's author Scott Wilbanks.
1. Who are your favourite magic realist authors and why?
Thanks for interviewing me, Zoe. And try not to chuckle too hard at my responses. (Eye rolls are optional.)
Many will think I’m off my rocker for including him on the magical realism shelf, but A.A. Milne would have to be at the top of my list, primarily because his protagonist embodies our greatest virtue—humanity—and yet he is not human. He’s a teddy bear, a living, breathing instructional guide who teaches us how to live in the present with his philosophy of innocence. And while he lacks a beating heart, he is the more alive than anyone I know.
2. What is your all-time favourite magic realist book?
And that would be The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh, not only for the reason I listed above, but because—for me, at least—it is a time-travel portal. (And you know how I love time-travel portals.) I don’t merely read the book, I dream it.
And when I dream, I relive the charms of my childhood. Of those books I’ve read with an adult audience in mind, I’d have to say Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus has come the closest to duplicating the wakeful dream state I experienced with Winnie The Pooh. I didn’t even bother to close the book cover when I’d finished it, and simply flipped back to the first page to start all over again.
3. Can you give us your definition of magic realism?
I learned from the onset that defining magical realism is a slippery endeavor. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and no two are alike. I’m not even sure it can be defined—concretely, anyway. If forced, I’d simply say that it involves any artistic enterprise in which fantastical elements seep into an otherwise realistic world.
And while I may have trouble defining it, I do have a tried-and-true barometer. It’s anything within the arts containing fantastical elements that sneaks under my mom’s radar. I’m not kidding.
She’s a realist to the core who doesn’t simply dislike fantasy, she has a deep-down-in-the-bones loathing for it. She wants the world within any literature she reads to be rational, and her range is… narrow. If a novel containing any sort of fantastical element passes her sniff test, it’ll be magically realistic.
4. Why do you write magical realism?
Strangely enough, it all goes back to Tolkien. He’s the reason I became a book-a-day nerd by the age of fourteen—all of it sci fi and fantasy—while simultaneously fuelling my outside-the-lines imagination.
It was inevitable, then, that fantasy would inevitably splatter all over the page when I decided to try my hand at writing. It presented a challenge, however. I wanted my mom to read whatever it was that I wrote so I decided to infuse the magic in a world with trees and people and sounds she’d understand.
5. Tell us about your latest magic realist book?
My current work-in-progress recounts the misadventures of a young, Southern man who is burdened with the world’s only confirmed case of chronic, incurable naiveté—the result of a curious subtype of ADD and a lightning strike at the age of four. A veritable magnet for con artists, he is reduced to becoming a shut in and a night owl.
Thank you, Scott.
Scott's online/social media links are: