Urban Politics #167: Now For Some Fantasy

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.


Now For Some Fantasy

No, I’m not talking about a Cyborg becoming the Governor of California.

I’m talking about the literary genre of fantasy, and more particularly that written for children.

Since I began writing Urban Politics in 1996, I have on rare occasions shared an occasional short story with my readers. The two most recent involved my experience of being robbed and then catching the thief while in Italy (UP #43, 8/14/98) and of crashing the Fremont Fair Parade while riding my bike (UP #110, 6/17/01). These little tales have for the most part amused my readers and provided me an opportunity to exercise the left side of my brain, or is it the right side?

Before being elected to the City Council and writing primarily analytical public policy pieces, I wrote short fiction pieces like those above and did story telling. I began story telling back in grade school, perhaps as a way to make up for my inability to read until the 4th grade due to dyslexia. As a father I continued to spin out tales for my daughter at bed time. And as I grew older I have told a few in public, some say that it led me to being elected to public office.

Fifteen years ago my daughter and her mother spent a year living in China. I mailed her a series of tapes that strung together a long adventure story about an eleven year-old girl in a far away land. After they returned I spent about three years rewriting and editing it with the help of published authors and children’s librarians. And then once completed, I put it aside.

There are many tales out there for children to read. I wanted a fantasy tale that both entertained and encouraged a child to think about kind of world they could live in, for better or worse.

Present day, we live in an era of dramatic technological and climatic changes: the hottest temperatures in history are now being recorded, the number of animal species being lost now approach the percentage that was lost when major climatic changes brought about the disappearance of the dinosaurs, and the massive rainforests, which serve as the earth’s lungs, are being cut down faster than they can be replaced.

How do we begin to tackle and understand these trends? We begin with values. What do we hold as a basic value? I think the most basic one is that we want to go on living in a habitable planet. We need an Earth that can sustain life, of all sorts: human, animal and plant. It’s the only planet we have and it would be nice to pass it onto our children, and to their children, and so on, in the belief that the human species is worthwhile saving and gives meaning to life itself.

It is a value that I try to lightly touch upon in the children’s novel I wrote and that I am now publishing as “Princess Bianca and The Vandals.” Local artist, Karen Lewis provided the illustrations, and Karen Steichen, Design Director for the Seattle Weekly, designed the book.

James Culbertson designed the website http://www.princessbianca.org which provides additional information about the book, copies of the illustrations and instructions on how to get the book.

“Princess Bianca” is a fantasy adventure story, where the hero is an average girl who happens to be a princess in a small, forgotten kingdom tucked away in one of the far corners of the world, innocent but not ignorant of the outside world

By choice they had no cars, trucks, trains, planes or any other kind of machine that used gasoline. It was a place where time passed slowly, where love and magic were one, and where all the harmful things that had been done to the earth had not been done.

For many years only a few daring travelers would cross the mountains that ringed its valley and descend through its thick forest. Most would stay in the paradise they found. But over time a different kind of visitor would come, not to stay but to plunder. They were the Vandals from the modern world Kingdom of Zurbia.

This is a tale of how a young princess had to save her kingdom from the Vandals and a world without magic as she sets upon a journey between these two kingdoms of the earth. “Princess Bianca” explores the realm of possibilities; it’s a fantasy of the heart; and a riddle to tease the mind. It’s a post-modern tale of two kingdoms.

The quote below from Denis Hayes, National Coordinator of the first Earth Day and Chair of the Earth Day Network, provides a nice summary of what I was trying to achieve with this story.

“Princess Bianca will charm and engage kids of all ages. Its subtle lessons about heroism, the environment and the choices we face will help the next generation understand the importance of celebrating Earth Days.”

If you like books, then you should check out the Northwest Bookfest this coming weekend, October 18th and 19th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Magnuson Park. Over 200 authors and publishers will be there. I will be part of the New Author’s Forum located in Hanger 27, just to the right of the main exit door. For more information about Bookfest go to www.nwbookfest.org.

I will also be doing a reading at the Elliott Bay Bookstore on Saturday morning 11 a.m. on November 15th.

For more information on when I’ll be reading at other locations, or have questions or comments about the book please contact nicholasjlicata@aol.com and not any other email address. Thank you.

Keep in touch…

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