"Painted Wings and Giants' Rings" by Wilfried F. Voss has now been released on Amazon Kindle. For more information see New on Kindle: Painted Wings and Giants' Rings, About the Loss of Innocence
Painted wings, childhood’s great defender,
And giants’ rings are such great splendor.
Keep these treasures, don’t grow old
In a world of tears and full of cold.
- The Faery’s Silly Song
Writing a novel is always a long and emotional journey, and once it is finished, it takes a while for the author to detach himself/herself from the story and start a new one. That is, at least, how I feel about writing fiction. My newest novel Painted Wings and Giants' Rings, a story about the loss of innocence, will be released very soon, most probably within the next two weeks, and I already experience the feeling of loss.
Looking back at the time when the first draft was finished, Painted Wings and Giants' Rings has undergone substantial changes and was also extended, not only to increase the word count to proper standards but also due to some necessary modifications.
Let me recount the evolution (or journey) of Painted Wings and Giants' Rings: After the first draft was finished, I realized and wrote about the emotional toll that comes with writing a novel. I paid the emotional toll by being reminded of my earliest childhood memories, which, as I realized during the writing process, were not happy memories at all, and that simple fact reflects in the story line.
The problems that appeared after the first draft were an insufficient word count, which could be remedied easily, and the avoidance of copyright infringement. The original story line, as reflected in the first draft, included strong references to Thomas the Tank Engine and Puff the Magic Dragon. After all, the story line is about two six-year-old children, and the assumption that Thomas and Puff would appear in their dreams is all too obvious.
Trying to avoid copyright infringements and obtain the rights to use Thomas the Tank Engine in my novel, I contacted the copyright holder in England, but I was swiftly denied. The rude response I received, however, led me to include a line in my novel. After all, this was a perfect example of childhood lost. Let me quote Mister Melvin, the conductor:
"This is when the dark forces of adulthood rule, when innocence gets lost. It starts off with an admirable mission of entertaining children, but it always ends up with profit thinking. All that counts in an adult world is profit, profit, and nothing but profit."
In all consequence, this vast disappointment turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it inspired me to add more content. Another contributing factor was that I attempted to contact Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary and Leonard Lipton but never received a response. Lipton wrote the lyrics of Puff the Magic Dragon and Yarrow put the words to music. Consequently, I had to somehow remove Puff from the story line without destroying the theme of my novel, namely the loss of childhood.
The solution was easy and even enhanced the message of Painted Wings and Giants' Rings. First, Thomas was replaced by Isabel, the little pink tank engine who is in love with Henrietta Brigstone, the chief engineer of the Dinck & Humper railroad on the island of Humperdinck. In the story line, the main female character, Siobhan, asks her father to write a story for her. “And it must rhyme, Daddy,” she told him. Oops! Now I had to write the story of Isabel and Henrietta in rhymes!
The same happened to Puff the Magic Dragon. In this case, Patrick, jealous that his sister got her own story, demands the same, but he wants a dragon's tale. As a result, his father writes the story of Kendric, the little dragon who couldn't spit fire.
While in the spirit of writing rhyming stories, I also replaced another character, the Widow with Shawl, a song by Scottish singer and songwriter Donovan Leitch, which is now about the Widow's Walk.
So, in hindsight, all the disappointments and obstacles I faced after the first draft, Painted Wings and Giants' Rings is now complete and ready for publication.
About the Book
In his newest novel, Voss delivers a unique and insightful view into a child’s world and how it relates to the harsh reality of adult life, in this case the life of Roger Wilkinson, a businessman who is haunted by childhood memories and the ultimate fear of mistreating his own children.
Wilkinson is in a coma after a car accident on the Massachusetts Turnpike, and he does not respond to physical stimulation. The doctor, assuming psychological issues, describes his condition as dwelling in a dark place.
Consequently, Roger’s children, Patrick and Siobhan, decide to rescue their father from the dark place and bring him to Never-Neverland. In their view, nobody dies in Never-Neverland. They try to find their father through their dreams, and in these dreams they travel to the Island of Humperdinck and the Land of Llangollen, but without success.
Soon, they realize their father can’t possibly be in a children’s place, and they need to enter dark, adult places like the Island of Shalott and the Isle of Frozen Souls. They meet the Lady of Shalott, who ultimately dies after seeing Sir Lancelot, and Annachie Gordon, whose heart turned to stone after learning that his love, Jeannie, had died. Patrick and Siobhan survive these dark places by remaining what they are: Children. When they ultimately find their father, they must apply the full power of childhood against the dark forces of adulthood.