Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Do You Believe In Magic?

I was once on a panel with Neil Gaiman about... actually I can't remember what it was about exactly because I was awfully busy being awed by being in the presence of Neil, but I do remember that we touched on the fact that sometimes writers access synchronicity with a skill that's akin to magic. For example, you start thinking about a certain subject, say, alchemy and you decide -- totally randomly -- to make your vampire an alchemist from Vienna, Austria, then later, say, like yesterday, you're at Border's and you see a "Idiot's Guide to Alchemy" and you think, "Damn, you know, I know almost nothing about alchemy really, I should buy that so I can do some research and make Sebastian's alchemy more 'real.'"

So you open the book up to the introduction this morning over your bowl of Corn Flakes, and read this:

"Four hundred years earlier, Vienna and nearby Prague were the heart of European alchemy, and hundreds of alchemists flocked to the area to study."

Hairs rise on the back of your neck, and you say, "Holy coincidence, Batman. That's freaky."

I can't remember entirely the story that Neil told about his magical moment of research other than it had to do with his book American Gods, which at the time he hadn't quite finished. I just know that it's absolutely true. This isn't the first time something like this has happened to me, but it's still always so startling.


Melanie said...


Frank said...

Isn't lovely how the universe aligns itself sometimes? I was working on a big sculpture project--eighteen-inch scale nativity set figures for a Dominican parish--and decided as an inside joke to add a border collie to the shepherds (the Dominican coat of arms is a white shield with black upper left and right corners, rather like the collie's face).

Searching online for photos, I came across a reference that said, "Border collies are believed to be descended from the Persian shepherd, a herding dog of the ancient near east."

Wow, indeed.