Foreword to “Castles in the Air”, part 1 of  3

I’m a fan of fantasy stories, as well as mysteries. The Lord of the Rings; Conan the Barbarian; Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser; “Nights Master” (1978) by Tanith Lee; and numerous tales by Neil Gaiman are among my favorites.

Of the mysteries, I’m partial to the televised versions, including David Suchet’s portrayal of Hercule Poirot; Michael Gambon’s (1992) and Rowan Atkinson’s (2016) portrayals of  Georges Simenon’s Jules Maigret; “Foyle’s War” (2002-2015) by Anthony Horowitz and starring Michael Kitchen; and the countless episodes of bizarre homicide and mayhem in Midsomer Murders (1997- ). What I like about both genres is the mixture of cleverness, humor, and seriousness in stories set in a fantastical world. 

What I wanted to do in the original “Castles in the Air” tale, was write an enjoyable fantasy/mystery that was shorter and more fast-paced than most of my stories back then. Unfortunately, with me being me, the intended short story stretched into a novella. However, the story did go over remarkably well with my writer’s group, which was enormously encouraging.

All the same, there were a few literary problems with the story that I recognized but didn’t know how to solve. Even then, I promised myself I’d return to the story and try to fix the problems someday. Meanwhile, the story went into my trunk full of monsters…until now. 

Because the novella is probably too long for a single post, I’ve divided it into three roughly equal-length parts that happen to demarcate acts 1, 2, and 3.

Here’s part 1.

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