I’m partial to the moon. Not much of a surprise for those people who know me and I’m not unique in this partiality. I’ll never forget seeing the white orb for the first time through a telescope and being in awe of the fact that a heavenly body hung so seemingly close to where I stood that night. And I’m amazed by the dazzling full moons that sit just above the horizon, interrupting whatever thoughts are running through my head at that moment. The first novel I wrote had the title, Water from the Moon, borrowing a line from the movie, The Year of Living Dangerously—something you can never have. And if I see a moon on a book cover, I’m immediately drawn to it, which is why I put one on the cover of my first book.
I notice this more in summer, but not exclusively. Just the other evening, after a string of bitter cold nights, I stood in my backyard and felt that something that’s almost indescribable. Or maybe it is describable. This is what I wrote from the perspective of my Wendy character in The Island of Lost Children:
[Wendy] sensed old spirits pressed into the cracks of their brick walls as she passed them. And if she took her time and the night began to fall and the moon hung silver over them, something outside the world she lived in but not really frightening hovered near her. She didn’t need to look up to know it was there.
Some nights, though, have a feature that doesn’t require a moon, a mystery more mysterious without its light. My grandparents lived in a place and at a time when light pollution wasn’t a consideration and when I was young, elementary age, I recall the mystery in that near-solid darkness. Objects around me appeared as the slightest silver, as if they drank up every bit of light from the stars, if they could be seen at all. That included all of us, my sister and cousin and I on the swing set, dipping and rising through the sea of evening. Something outside this world but not really frightening hovering nearby.
I’m convinced that all fairy tales are born in those moments of pure darkness or those saturated with pure moonlight. All stories of danger and wonder and full of the fantastical.
One last image I have of night that’s been in my head since I was very young: I’m standing in a neighborhood of brick houses looking down a street at a full moon. It is very late (or perhaps very, very early) and everything is tinged with moonlight. I’m not sure where that street leads and what that moon illuminates, but even though I suspect I’ll never know the answer for sure, I believe that’s the place where I’ll find all the stories I want to tell.