Do you wish you were magical?
Me too! Since I was a little girl I was convinced I would eventually develop psychic powers. Why? Books, of course! I’m showing my age now, but I grew up with YA fiction like The Girl with the Silver Eyes, by Willo Davis Roberts and A Gift of Magic, by Lois Duncan.
The kids in these stories seemed pretty normal, so it wasn’t a far stretch to me that I could also somehow become magical. Or perhaps I already was and hadn’t realized it yet. Maybe I was like Sabrina and I wouldn’t get my magic until I turned sixteen. All I knew was that if I came from a long line of witches, no one had told me about it yet. As I kept reading though, my hope was maintained, because there were many other scenarios where characters developed magic, and at least some of those could still happen to me.
According to fantasy novels, there are plenty of ways to become magical that don’t require you to be a chosen one:
Find a Magical Object (Wand, Cape, Amulet, Substance)
Find/Steal a Grimoire/Book of Shadows
Reach a Milestone Age (16, 18, 21?)
Inherit a Magical House
Make a Wish
Cast a Spell
Make a Pact with the Devil or other Magical Being (NOT RECOMMENDED!)
Take part in an Experiment or Procedure (NOT RECOMMENDED!)
When I turned forty, I had to admit that it was unlikely I’d become magical. My mom never called me with the great news of my magical lineage (and she’s a genealogist, so she should know.)
Even though I hunted in antique stores and garage sales, I never found a magical amulet.
I never saw a single advertisement to take part in an experimental procedure. Probably for the best, based on how those things usually play out (think Firestarter or Stranger Things -Yikes!)
Make Me Believe Again
During the pandemic I stole my husband’s Kindle even though I swore nothing would ever replace paper books, the musty smell and the feel of the pages, and I fell in love with it. And I discovered the world of midlife magic books.
The midlife magic genre is made up of stories about women, usually forty or older, who find magic late in life and it changes everything for them. It feels like fate that I found out this genre existed just at the right time. These books were the perfect escape from the drudgery of pandemic life and helped me cope with that extended period of isolation. I highly recommend reading them (see list below).
For me and my personal quest for magic, the problem remained unsolved. In most of the books, the woman inherits a magical house or finds out when she returns to her hometown (usually after a divorce, death of spouse, or loss of job) that she was secretly a witch or fae, or something else, all along.
I guess I could technically still inherit a magical house until the day I die, so I keep that sliver of hope in my heart, but for the most part, I’m out of luck.
A Hardworking Solution
I’ve always heard “Write the book you want to read.” So I did. In my book, Animal Charmer, I wanted my main character to find out that anyone can be magical, provided you know magic exists, and are willing to work hard for it.
It’s like music. In theory, anyone can make music, right? But not everyone does. Many kids start out taking violin or piano, but they get bored, don’t want to practice, lack aptitude, or just plain aren’t interested. Very few people go on to make music that brings joy to our hearts or tears to our eyes. That kind of music is, in my mind, its own type of magical power.
This is how magic is in my world: if you know it exists, you can learn it, but it is a lot of hard work. Aptitude counts, but only somewhat, like most things in life.
I’m a sucker for competition movies like Bring It On and Center Stage, and the 1980s classic movie, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, where the characters work hard and there are ample montages showing rehearsals and cold, hard sweat. The practice montages are my favorite parts!
In Animal Charmer, a new coworker introduces Lucy to the world of animal magic, and that’s all it takes. Once she knows it’s real, she works hard to hone her skills and it changes the entire trajectory of her life. She goes from sitting in a tiny cubicle making maps and staring out the window, to battling dark magicians to save a forest full of innocent creatures.
Accepting Midlife without Magic?
So I wrote my midlife magic book, where anyone can learn magic. But how does that help me in real life? Is it time to admit I’ll never be magical?
Not on my watch!
I might never have telekinesis or be able to read minds or start fires telepathically, but since writing Animal Charmer, I’ve firmly decided I have animal magic of sorts.
When I was twenty, I adopted my first cat. Over the years of living with animals I have come to understand them more and more. They don’t communicate in words, but you can still listen to what they’re telling you. I know water drunk out of my cup is the tastiest.
I know those two cats are deeply hurt that they are on the other side of that door. I know that cat is not going to let me finish my puzzle. I knew a squirrel would in fact use the tiny picnic bench I saw on the internet and that baby mini horse would get up and gallop away at any moment if I didn’t hold him just right.
For me, being attuned to both domestic animals and those out in the wild brings a certain kind of magic to my life even greater than what I imagined as a child. I talk to birds in my yards. I talk to anoles, and squirrels. If it’s not biting me, then I talk to it (if it’s biting me, then I’m yelling.)
I’m hoping that I captured that kind of magic in Animal Charmer, the way Lucy finds magic and it changes her life, and that this book inspires readers to find the magic in their lives.
I’m working on a sequel which explores song magic, and I can’t wait to share that with everyone!
Recommended Midlife Magic books
NOTE: There are so many great books in this genre so I could never include them all. These just happen to be the ones I first found and enjoyed, leading me to write Animal Charmer.