Hello readers, and welcome back to Sabrina’s Book Corner. This week we are going to be discussing Spelled by Betsy Schow.
Spelled, like so many recent books, is a new twist on an old tale. Everyone knows the story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, but the Dorothy found in Spelled has never known Kansas. Schow takes the well-known story and twists it into something we’ve never seen before. This concept is very popular in the YA genre at the moment, and Schow weaves her magic (pun intended) extremely well in her retelling of The Wizard of Oz.
Dorthea (or Dot to her friends) has everything she wants out of life — except for the ability to leave home. Sure, being the Emerald Princess has its perks, including extravagant ball gowns made by Glenda, but along with the royal title comes the royal curse. The curse states that one day a girl from the Emerald line will turn evil and leave Emerald to burn. Dot might not be the cursed Emerald, but she’ll never leave the castle just to be on the safe side. However, this is a problem for Dot, because all she wants is freedom.
An introductory note on the story “Four Points and a Necklace” by Sharon Houk
For me, the genre of flash fiction is a delicious combination of poetry and storytelling. In China, this type of miniature story is called “smoke long,” meaning you can read it in the same amount of time it takes to smoke a cigarette. You can’t waste time. Every word counts. It reaches beyond itself.
“Four Points and a Necklace” was inspired by an x-ray. I was told to get dressed after four injections were fluoroscopically guided into my neck vertebrae, but instead I snapped a photo of the image remaining on the monitor. My neck: with four points and a necklace. Inspiration can come from anywhere: a picture, a phrase, a hat. Frankly, I have about five lifetimes of inspiration already backlogged. I’m never at a loss when I need a catalyst for writing.
The thing that tips inspiration into an actual piece of writing is some problem. I never write just to write. I write to solve problems. I write to understand something that is, for me, just beyond language. I mix fiction and experience and comedy and I don’t stop until I’ve said, “That’s it!” That was the thing. That thing. And sometimes other people find it entertaining, too, and all in the time it takes them to smoke a cigarette.
Sharon Houk is Adjunct Faculty in the department of Math & Computer Science.