Welcome back to another post in the Monday Inspirations series, where guest bloggers write about the books and authors that have inspired them. Today’s post is by Sarah Brentyn. You can check out OTHER Monday Inspirations posts here.
When I was little, I checked my closet before bed. But I wasn’t looking for monsters. I was searching for Narnia.
I remember pushing past fabric and running my hand along the back wall. It was dark and sometimes I frightened myself being in there behind hanging shirts and winter jackets. Mostly, though, I felt as brave as Lucy walking through those fur coats and into a curious winter wonderland.
My family had boring closets. The kinds that are built into the wall and have painted white doors with little pull knobs. I don’t know that I expected something so dull to provide a portal, but I had to try. See, while most characters I read became real to me on some level, Narnia actually existed. I believed the shifting gateway would eventually turn up. Perhaps in my bedroom. Who knew? When I got older and saw an armoire—an actual standing wardrobe all lovely and carved and mahogany-colored, I nearly fainted. Narnia was real.
Narnia. Home of evil creatures, courageous animals, the White Witch, the magnificent Aslan, and the sweet (okay-I-tricked-you-but-I-felt-really-bad-about-it) little Faun named Tumnus.
Louisa May Alcott stole my heart with her Little Women. I still list Jo as one of my top five favorite fictional characters. She, rather the whole March family, is unforgettable. But they lived in the real world.
Tolkien amazed me with talking trees, elves, wizards, dwarves, and hobbits. I could pretend to be an elf (which I totally did) but it was make-believe. They didn’t exist outside the brilliantly designed Middle Earth.
C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, created a story that began with four rather ordinary children who wound up in a fantasy realm. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the first book I read that allowed me to consider the possibility of other worlds existing inside, outside, next to, or beyond our mundane reality.
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy allowed me to indulge my imagination, letting go of all the impossibilities the world told me I couldn’t believe.
And, because of these four children who became kings and queens at Cair Paravel, when I picked up a pencil at nine years old, I knew I could write stories about an ordinary girl who found herself in extraordinary places.
To this day, when I see an old wardrobe at an antique shop, my heart beats a little faster. I’m giddy. The compulsion to open it is too strong. I must. And, though I find nothing more than a bare interior, some moth balls, or the occasional dead bug, I’ve never given up hope of finding the way into Narnia.
Sarah Brentyn is a geek, a mum, and a freelance writer who loves good books and good wine. Also, chocolate. She writes everything from personal essays and lifestyle columns to flash fiction and haiku but really can’t stand writing bios. She blogs at Lemon Shark and plays with fiction at Lemon Shark Reef. Connect with her on Twitter at @SarahBrentyn.
Would you like to contribute to the Monday Inspirations series? Email me: uhumienik[at]gmail.com