To read in more depth about the forthcoming Maddie Aflame! (coming 10/03) please check out these beautiful posts from the amazing Malin James: “On Queer Marginalization” and “On Conformity and Defiance“. They are simply amazing! I couldn’t be more honored.
When I was a kid, my father bought me a magic set for Christmas. Because he’d been a magician himself, performing at children’s parties etc., he helped me with a lot of the tricks. The one I remember most vividly was a plastic plate with a slot under the rim where you could stash a coin. By tipping that plate towards an empty hand you could seemingly make it appear out of nothing! I loved making things appear from nowhere. The first time I used that plate, I shrieked with laughter. If only gold coins really would appear from nowhere! Wouldn’t that just be dandy!
In Maddie Aflame! there is such a thing as vapor tech and that in itself seems like a magic trick at first. Vapor tech comes to light once ghosts have arrived in England, floating down the streets or through their loved ones’ living rooms, for a reason that remains a mystery for now. These ghosts are formed of vapors, as all spirits in Maddie’s world are, including the spirits humans have inside ourselves. That’s why ghosts communicate psychically, speaking from their spirits to ours, their words appearing in our heads as if by magic. Out of vapor tech, comes bubblemail, as Maddie’s Scottish friend explains:
“So!” Pike held up the white tube. “This is a brand new invention.” He sucked on the end of the tube before placing the dry end to his lips and closing his eyes. After a moment, he puffed air into the tube and a bubble started to form. He puffed and puffed and the bubble grew until it was the size of a small orange, and then, with one final puff, he blew the bubble free.
It floated straight towards me, as if a strong breeze had sent it on its way, then it kept on dancing in front of my face like it was trying to get my attention.
“Maddie!” Pike called, pushing his glasses up his nose. “Reach out an’ pop it! Pop it! Go on!”
When I did, the bursting bubble exclaimed in Pike’s own voice, “Maddie, in a place where there’s neh cell phones nor internet, bubblemail still works.”
“Oh my God!” I gasped.
Aud’s jaw had dropped. She said, “Pike, that’s amazing.”
Pike beamed with pleasure. “It works up tae four hundred meters! An’ it’s just a tube! Easy tae hide. Sometimes, the bubble doesnae pop, but you can pop it, nae problem.”
–From Maddie Aflame! which launches 10/3/16!
But bubblemail aside, magic can also be scary. (As a matter of fact, Maddie and her friends are being swallowed by a living mansion, which is why they need bubblemail in the first place!) In reality, I think the most disturbing thing I’ve seen a magician do came in the form a mind control trick. Derren Brown is a master of mind control. In my eyes, he’s scary. Really spooky. The video of the trick still makes my blood go cold. In it, Brown goes to the dog races and tricks someone into paying out on a win that isn’t a win at all. It’s genius. It’s also frightening. And dicey. Very dicey. Here’s the link.
As we approach the release of Maddie Aflame! in early October, I find myself inspired by magic tricks involving fire. Here’s a gorgeous trick by Stephen Bridges and the Mandeville Sisters. They all have AWESOMELY fun energy and Bridges is clearly a genius who delights in his craft. Lovely!