This is the preface from the fantasy novel I’m working on these days, currently titled The Fruit of Passion. I’ve decided not to include it in the final draft. The story can stand just fine without it. However, I’ve spent too much time on it to kill it. Besides, I believe it’s worth sharing because it explains the genesis of the novel and gives a brief glimpse into the basic storyline. I welcome your frank reactions. Does this entice you to read further? Does it grab your interest? Feel free to share your thoughts!
I’ll tell you a story that never happened, in a time neither flown by nor coming. I’ll tell you about a cloud-cuckoo-land that leapt in front of me in a vision while broad awake. Where girls of flesh and blood never breathed our oxygen and yet, blazed a trail of burning gold in the map of existence that you and I never will in our finite lifespan.
How did this tale come into being? From where did this dreamland spring? How were these magic girls born and came to grasp the light of Creation? In other words, what was the blast of inspiration that electrified my mind like a lightning bolt striking a pine tree during a storm? I owe everything to the exquisite Victorian poetess, Christina Rossetti, and her marvelous poem, Goblin Market.
As someone who appreciates all fine works of art, I couldn’t help but be deeply moved when I read the poem. It so shook me that I lost the ground under my feet. So utterly it affected me that I felt my soul breaking away from its corporeal residence and plunging into a euphoric ocean.
What exactly set my blood on fire? The vivid imagery as if bright colours exploded before my eyes? The sensual, mouth-watering descriptions that made the mellow words roll upon my tongue like the cool juice of a watermelon? The metallic music that poured from each verse like a celestial river? Or perhaps the richness of meaning that calls for various interpretations and, at the same time, eludes them all?
Certainly it was all of the above, but not quite what arrested my attention. For the seed of afflatus lay dormant in the poem’s slippery symbol and, as soon as my mind’s eye caught sight of it, it struck root and blossomed like a rose at dawn. What was this seed? None other than the fruit globes lovely Laura sucked greedily until her lips turned redder than wine.
It was the trope of the impossibly delicious food that captivated and enticed me. I kept thinking about how it would be to write a story that would revolve around such a fruit. A fruit so delightful, lush and nectarous that would make humans dream of it— whether active or asleep—and lust after it to the point of absolute distraction.
Initially, that was the heart of my work. However, as the words metamorphosed into sentences and kept on spilling upon the blank page, I began to realize the material I was in possession of was too raw, almost nude. An imaginary fruit, no matter how flavourful and luscious, wouldn’t suffice.
Thus, the woman in quest of it, Morella, should have a valid reason for her desire. In a nutshell, I had to give her an incentive. Her hunger for it couldn’t be merely an aftermath of yen or even human avarice. There had to be a motive that would drive her forth in the pursuit of her goal. And what could that motive be? Something that would literally bring her to her knees, namely death. But it couldn’t be just any death. It had to be the loss of her most beloved person. Her desire for the fruit would function only as a means for her to achieve the desirable union with her mother.
So, what started out as a tale about a simple trope evolved into something complex and diverse. The fruit was the foundation, but upon it I created— like a tiny spider—a web and within its nets I weaved themes like those of loss and death, passion and futility, consciousness and unconsciousness, mortality and immortality, life and love.
The Fruit of Passion turned out to be much more than my initial conception: partly tragic, partly hopeful, partly dreamlike, partly mystical, partly obscure, partly gothic, partly erotic, partly sweeter than honey from the rock, partly bitterer than cocoa, but overall sensuous and lyrical.
My fondest wish is that you will be able to slowly peel off all these layers, and possibly view it under a different light than I do. And who knows? Maybe in the end you will come to consider this narration your child, too.