18 November 2014

[Guest post] Watching the Magic Unfold

The following is a guest post from Erin Thomas, author of "Forcing the Ace,"

Erin talks about Sorcerers Safari, early memories of magic, magic at Canada's Wonderland (Paul Pacific or Jeff Pinsky, perhaps?) and more.

Today's the last day to enter to win your copy of Forcing the Ace!


Having already written a few times about the awesomeness that is Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp in Ontario, and rejoiced in the similarities between magicians and writers (introverts unite!), I think it’s time to try a different tack. Today I want to share some of my memories of watching magic and enjoying it. Because really, that’s what it’s all about.

As it turns out, magic is probably one of the first things I ever saw clearly. I was eight or nine years old when my parents took my brother and I to see David Copperfield in Toronto. We sat up in the balcony, looking down on a big, brightly lit stage. I kept squinting and turning away, complaining that my eyes hurt. Acting on a hunch, Dad handed me his glasses. Wow! Whaddya know… there was a person down on that big stage! And he was doing really cool stuff.

Sadly, I remember the fact of the show more than the details, although there was one memorable moment when he walked through a giant wall onstage. Wikipedia tells me that his Great Wall of China effect was in 1986, a couple years later, so I might be confused, but this is how I remember it. That, and him reaching into a tiny bottle and pulling out a rainbow-coloured scarf that seemed to go on forever.

I do remember the sharp, sudden realization that the world was a place with edges, and that details existed more than an arms’ length away. My world got bigger that night. And if you could pick one thing to be your first sight through corrective lenses, a magic show is a pretty decent option.

I know I saw other magicians over the years. There would have been shows at day camps and birthday parties, magicians on stages at town carnivals, Canada’s Wonderland, the Mediaeval Faire. And I would have watched and clapped, laughed and been astonished. These are all vague impressions, though.

There was that “Circus” in the McQuay family’s backyard—a show put on by the neighbourhood kids for parents lined up in lawn chairs. I remember Piper’s acrobatics, and I think some kind of “lion act” featuring Katie the Airedale. The tightrope was a skipping rope stretched across the grass, and we took turns balancing across it. Of course there was a magic act, courtesy of one of those boxed kids with plastic cup-and-balls pieces and a disappearing chamber as tall as a Barbie doll. None of us ended up pursuing magic as a calling, so I suspect it might have been the sort of act that comes from reading the directions five minutes before the show, but watching, I still thought it was cool. Even the possibility of things disappearing and reappearing was enough for me.

I watched magic shows when I was researching the book. My favourite, of course, was the final performance at Magic Camp. I brought my husband and my daughter along, to see the kids I had talked with earlier in the week perform. I LOVED that. It wasn’t always the most polished magic, but it was sincere.

Unfortunately, my husband and daughter haven’t been bitten by the magic bug the way I was. They don’t always want to go see the shows. But I dragged them along to a Christopher Tracy’s family magic show at a resort in Florida last winter, and we had a great time. My daughter was chosen as the first audience volunteer. He broke the rules in a fun way, instructing her to close her eyes while he made things “disappear” by tossing them behind a counter. He invited the whole audience in on his secret—this isn’t really magic, we’re here to have a good time—so that when he started in on the tricks that baffled us, we enjoyed it even more. We laughed, and my daughter felt special for having been part of the show.

We’re not done with magic, my family and I. I’m not done with it. I have no plans to become a magician (becoming a writer is more than enough work, thanks very much), but I sure do like being in the audience.

Sometime soon, maybe I’ll see you there.


Thank you Erin, for guest posting at Canada's Magic!  Today's the last day to enter to win your copy of Forcing the Ace!

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