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The Line between Reality & the Other World

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

What I want to talk about is something I have been really struggling to put into words lately. Basically, it has been on my mind, and sort of festering in the background as I go through day-to-day life—and finally—it’s bubbled up.

I have loved fantasy—imagination—creativity and all their abundance of goodness since I can really remember. I have always believed that such things are a blessing. We are all created in the image of the Creator, and therefore, we also create. We reflect God’s creativity.


I can’t stress how important imagination was to my development, and in forming who I am today. I was always ‘off with the fairies’ – you know – prancing around in imaginative play, being a fairy-princess, or an astronaut, using my toys as props in epic adventures and heroic quests.

From a very early age, fantasy was my escapism – and my teacher – it was a way that I taught myself how to interact with Reality, by ‘pretending’. By the time I was a teenager, I had immersed myself within the wonders of fantasy and science fiction, however, I was very aware of that important distinction between Reality and Fantasy. Something C.S.Lewis explored a lot in his writings, referring to fantasy realms as ‘Other Worlds’. I appreciated this distinction, and it was of vital importance to me, especially when I was a teen. I was terrified—at the time—of being seen as schizophrenic and tried really hard to show that I fundamentally understood the difference between reality and non-reality.

Obviously, the characters I created weren’t real. Obviously, the worlds in my head weren’t parallel universes and obviously, I don’t actually travel to them. I can still picture the psychologists pitifully looking at me like I’m some unfortunate child trapped in her own fairy-realm.

Uncomfortable.


So, as you can see, that defining line between Reality and Fantasy has been a fundamental part of my life. I did not want to ever break that line, or see that line broken. It separated me, my characters, and their worlds from normality. They stayed in their world, and I stayed in mine. It was all 'pretend' and make-believe, and as real as it often felt to me (and someday, perhaps I'll publish that book about it, about how real and important my characters were to saving my life) - it was just that, it was make-believe.

It was the Other World.

It wasn't Reality.


Sorry, all of this has just been a long, convoluted way to get down to what I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s really hard to get out in words—


This is all something I’ve been observing since I was around fifteen and really began getting into the writing/publishing scene. You might think a fifteen-year-old wouldn’t have much to get into – but remember – I didn’t attend ‘normal’ school and this was basically my entire life. I lived and breathed writing and publishing. It was ALL I thought about. I was consumed by it. I’ve watched the industry change, and morph over the past eighteen odd years and it’s been uncomfortable. I didn’t appreciate being called sexist, and a misogynist and a participator in the patriarchy when I was fifteen and tried to defend the term ‘heroine – and I don’t appreciate it now either when I try to defend ‘heroes’. Gosh, I didn’t even know what a misogynist was, or had any clue what the patriarchy could be…poor…naïve Kylie.

Part of me wishes I stayed naïve.

Anyway. I’ve digressed.


The writing and publishing world has changed, because the world itself has changed. So many things have happened that have influenced our culture, rather rapidly and while so much has stayed the same, so much hasn’t. It’s a weird paradox.

What has made me uncomfortable is the blurring of the Line between Reality and Fantasy. Things that I once considered fantasy, existing only in the Other World, have slowly bled into Reality and it’s been really disturbing me, making me extremely uncomfortable with writing fantasy, because it’s blurring that distinct line that was such a fundamental part of my stability.



One of my favourite books is Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Däniken. If you haven’t heard of it, it basically presents the idea to the reader that all the technologies and religions of the ancient civilizations across Earth were given to them by ancient astronauts, who were seen as gods. This is the Ancient Alien theory. This book inspired my all-time favourite television show ‘Stargate: SG1’ – a spinoff of the brilliant movie, Stargate.

The thing is, when I really started looking into Ancient Aliens – and I did – because I rather adored the ancient alien theory, because it’s fun, and cute, and fun…and it’s entertaining…and I love…I really love fun ideas – I realised people really, deeply, truly believed it.

To me it was a fun idea to use in a fantasy story. It was interesting and fantastical and so out of this world it sat beyond my line of reality – it sat in the Other World. I adored the concept as a story – but to people in forums that I spoke to – they earnestly believed it, to them, it WAS REALITY.


This kept happening to me.


The Flat Earth theory is another one I picked up on, this is actually a theory I enjoyed really early on – from way back when I was around seven years old. I would have really vivid dreams about worlds that drifted around suns, but they were islands, and therefore, flat. I loved the visual look of lava floating off into the void of space, and coming up with the ideas of just how these places existed.

Here – this is one of my original concepts for the Northlands of Livila, where The Dynasty of Earth and Stars is set. That series stems from those vivid dreams of flat-worlds and the broken borders between them needing to be repaired.

But once I got older and started researching online I discovered that Flat Earth was something people had once believed, and still do believe – some, very – very strongly.


I am an enormously huge fan of Jules Verne. I own several versions of a number of his books, and if I had money, I’d collect more of them. I absolutely adore Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and because of reading that novel early on in my childhood, I came to love the Hollow Earth Theory. I could spend hours regaling you all about this theory, and the impact it has had on pop-culture. Unfortunately, if you stumble to deeply into the forums and websites online, you’ll find yourself into a rabbit hole – realising that people don’t just believe that the Hollow Earth Theory is real, but it has weird connections to Nazi’s, the occult and all sorts of things.


I was a little girl when I came up with half of the ideas I have for novels and worlds, and now I can’t look at most of my story ideas without feeling uncomfortable that the line of reality and fantasy has blurred.


I was once talking with a few authors about our novels, and I was trying – poorly – to explain the premise of The Dynasty of Earth and Stars – and one of the authors told me that my novel was basically about environmentalism and climate change.

Heh.

What?

No. No. No. What?

Me: The people on the planet are literally at war with the planet.

Author: Yes, your story is about overpopulation, and the planet is fighting back. The planet is the positive force, and your characters are the negative.

Me - in my brain - freaking out: NO! Oh my gosh. No. Stop. Stop. It’s a fantasy! Stop…stop superimposing our reality over my fantasy reality.

*sigh*


Back when I was a little girl, and then a teen inhaling every fantasy and science fiction book I could get my hands on, exploring the concepts and ideas that existed in those books, everything within those novels belonged on the other side of the divide. Robots, Flat Earths, Light-Speed, Astral Projection, Time Travel, Aliens, Parallel Universes, becoming an incorporeal form, ascending to a higher plain of existence, reincarnation, shape-shifting, sorcery, ghosts, monsters, fairies, telepaths – stories about crystal healings, and space rocks, and aliens blending into human form, or switching genders, adventure tales dealing with mummies and demons, or interdimensional beings. Frankly – the list could go on.

But all of that belonged in the realm of fantasy. The unknown realm. The Other World.

It was never real to me. It was all stories, and fuel to be used as stories.


But now –

Today the things that were once stories, aren’t just stories.

Everyone believes in something, and it kind of scares me. It scares me that the stories I once traversed have morphed and bled into reality. Maybe it was my naivety? Maybe I just didn't know much about the world, and as I've gotten older I've gone off and learnt about things, and people, and cultures and - well - I like learning so I just kind of absorb stuff like a sponge.

But I wonder if my naivety kept me protected in a way.


I just want to write fantasy stories that exist in the Other World, where there is no reality, and yet the more I go on, the more I wonder if that is even possible to do any longer. Are people going to interpret something that I write, say or do? No matter what, will they attach meaning to something that has no meaning.

The thing is, I just really want to write fantasy and science fiction, because it’s…it’s basically who I am, and it’s what I do. It is…I hesitate to say it…it is my identity…and that’s not a good thing.



From a very, very young age I’ve crafted myself to be a fantasy writer, and I don’t know who I would be without being a fantasy writer. I’m scared by the idea that if I take that away, I don’t know who and what I am, and I’m almost feeling like I’m going through some sort of tug-a-war at the moment. That maybe…maybe I shouldn’t be writing what I am, and yet, that’s all I am good at.

It’s all I am capable of doing.

I have nothing else.

Who is Kylie Leane if she doesn’t write fantasy?

Who am I?

Frankly, I am a really boring person, at least, I think I am. I don’t really feel like I have much to say, or don’t really feel like I have much to offer. What I like doing is creating worlds, and I guess I am coming to realise that, if I don’t write books, I don’t know what else I could do.

But I don’t know if I can continue to write in this current culture that is blurring the line that I have held so strongly too all these years. I’m feeling quite lost.

I am sure, given time, I will work out the predicament I seem to be in, but right now it’s uncomfortable.

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