Friends are sometimes as close and dear to us – if not dearer – than our own family. In cities, where people lead busy lives and are often separated from their families by great distances, many people form their own “families” with their circle of friends.
For a young vampire like Willow, who lives in the rural remoteness of Stinkforthshire-upon-Avon, it is quite hard making new friends. Other vampire children shun her; humans are mostly scared of her.
We often find new friends in the unlikeliest of places, though. Already Willow Band has befriended middle-aged Rita Ramona, who was originally an item on the Band’s breakfast menu.
Willow the Vampire has also made a friend of Eddie Strongarm, an essentially gentle, animal-loving soul, who was driven to murdering his wife with an axe, something he’d only ever read about in the gutter press papers and never dreamed of performing such an act of violence himself, no matter how much his horrible wife deserved it.
And let’s not forget Willow’s best friend Darren, who’d like to be a knight in shining armour at her side, but who always ends up being the damsel in distress, the one who needs rescuing.
Finally, her latest acquisition in the circle of friends department: Willow’s one time arch nemesis Felicity Henderson, the headmaster’s daughter, a snitch, a school swat and universal pain-in-the-neck.
Goblins, fairies, sprites, sylphs, Puck and Pan, nymphs and banshees, white witches, dark witches, warlocks, ghosts, wizards, gnomes and finally pixies are all out and about at night, when Willow’s own parents are leaving home to hunt among the human population, yet she hardly ever comes in close contact with such fine examples of nocturnal life forms.
A new school year will bring new opportunities to make friends and enemies. A new villain on the scene makes it essential for Willow to cast her net wider with regard to the friends and allies she makes.
Belonging to the more pleasant creatures of the night, pixies are perhaps an odd choice for a vampire girl looking for friendship and approval, given their mischievous nature. However, in Willow’s second adventure, Willow the Vampire and the Würzburg Ghosts, pixies will play an important part.
Mischievous and childlike, fond of horse riding, dancing and wrestling, pixies are magical creatures that live under stones or in caves or in the vicinity of ancient monuments; they punish those who are unkind and reward humans who show them and others consideration.
In modern fantasy fiction there are many examples of these small blue (and sometimes green-skinned) trouble-makers. In J K Rowling’s Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter series) some Cornish pixies end up in Harry’s classroom. Writers like Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl series) have used pixies very successfully and in a most charming, humorous way.
They live underground in a world entirely created by them, where just like humans they have crimes to solve, have to find their calling and make life and death decisions. There are also pixies in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and in Holly Black’s and Tony Diterlizzi’s Spiderwick Chronicles.
So what exactly is our fascination with pixies? They are said to be childlike or even smaller with either blue or green skin, a great fondness for music and dancing, which they love to do en mass in a great outdoor celebration. What’s wrong with that?
With the arrival of Christianity most things that were good about the Old Religion, as the BBC’s Merlin and Co. would call paganism, were banished and given a bad name.
Free spirits like pixies, which are able to cast powerful spells and weave all kinds of magic, would be on the extermination list of any bible-bashing missionary trying to convert people in Cornwall and Devon, where the ancient race of pixies allegedly hails from.
Let’s face it, when you’re trying to get bums-on-seats in your newly erected church, you don’t want the population to gather round in the woods where a bunch of pixies is twirling around to show off their twinkle-toes.
Church-goers mean money in the prince-bishop’s coffers – pixie-watchers are a wash-out when it comes to joining an old-fashioned witch-hunt, so Father Abbot can get his hands on witches’ lands and chattels.
There are many wonderful traits of character attributed to pixies; among my favourites are their love of dancing in the moonlight and their love for horses, weaving the animal’s mane into tight little ringlets while galloping over fields. It’s an idyllic picture of a creature in tune with nature and full of life, enjoying every moment to the full, just as it should be, when we’re grateful for the gift of life.
Earth, air, water and fire are awe-inspiring elements that deserve having their own magical, mystical creatures attributed to them. While sprites are airy light-weights among the creatures of the night, pixies can stand tall with the likes of gnomes and goblins, fairies, poltergeister (German plural of poltergeist) and ghosts.
I can see why the pixies’ love of music might be condemning them in the eyes of the Church. Music is the one art form that embraces all the other elements. We hear a powerful tune and it goes under our skin.
Our mind’s eye conjures up pictures to go with the melody. Music can make us laugh or cry, be sentimental or enraged, make us feel all sexy and romantic or aggressive and in the mood to smash up our hotel room a la Keith Moon. Music transports us and makes us forget everything around us, including being servile to our spiritual leader, our liege and overlord.
Dancing to the rhythm of music, with our eyes closed or gazing into the eyes of a loved one with our arms entwined is such a fundamental expression of being human – of being alive – that it must naturally be outlawed by ruling classes trying to convince us the afterlife is the only rightful place we should be striving for… because the worldly life will only provide us with sin and misery (don’t forget, we are poor, little and obscure, unlike prince-bishop and duke ruling over us with an iron fist). Believing in pixies would upset this oppressive world view, naturally.
From a writer’s point of view, using music in one’s writing is an instant way of connecting with our readers. Mention a well-known tune and anyone who knows it will immediately be rooting for your heroine or hero, who’s just whistled this 1960’s classic. Allow your protagonists to go misty-eyed in a restaurant, when they hear THEIR song, the one that played when they fell in love 20 years ago; get your villain dancing to the overture of the Valkyrie and you will have created an unforgettable moment.
If you had to play a tune for a bunch of dance-crazy pixies, what would you play and why?
(source of book pictures: Wikipedia; sourced of animation: heathersanimation.com, webweaver.nu/clipart and netanimations.net)