Some years back, my wife, friends, and I rented a house in Hood River for a long weekend of wind surfing, brewery hopping, and elaborate home cooked meals. This was around the time my friends had begun starting families. One couple had started sooner than the others, and that couple brought their son. He was maybe two years old, perhaps younger. He was mobile, curious, and very hands-on.
The idea around which “Memory of Magic” eventually formed came from observing him, the lone child among our friends, during that long weekend.
He grabbed things and got into things and demanded things. His parents vacillated through wild pangs of joy and shock and worry and delight. In short, he was a little kid. They were new parents.
Once, he yanked a potted jade plant from its soil and shook it like a dirty pom-pom. It should be noted that this was a very nice rental house, so nice that there was an abiding sense of how-did-we-land-this-place? We were guests, paying guests, but guests nonetheless. Someone lived there. They were coming back. With that in mind, his parents descended on the situation and tucked the jade plant back into its pot, all the while calmly explaining to their son that this was a plant, and it needed soil, and it shouldn’t be handled like that, it was alive.
To me, the way they were saying it sounded like they were reminding him of something he knew, but he didn’t quite remember. I thought, wow, he’s powerful but he doesn’t understand that he’s wielding power. He doesn’t remember. He’s like a little wizard who forgot his magic. While growing up, he could turn out any number of ways, and his parents were working to ensure that he’d turn out good, that he’d nurture things rather than destroy them just to see how they could be destroyed.
The first draft of “Memory of Magic” was titled “Little Wizards.”
Some years earlier, before my friends with the son had started their family, my wife and I visited them while they worked as caretakers and guides for Independence Mine State Historical Park in Alaska. Independence Mine is a beautiful site set at the end of a valley where two mountain ridges converge to form a horseshoe of peaks. The mine is quite literally at the end of the road. Memory of the mine complex remains vivid for me: the schoolhouse, the bunkhouses, the array of non-affiliated miner shacks, the offsite “relaxation” shacks, the assayer’s office, and the mine itself. It seemed like a place with a wealth of buried mysticism, which had been tempered by hard living, hard weather, and hope.
The memory of Independence Mine eventually wrapped itself around the idea for what was then “Little Wizards” and they worked off each other for “Memory of Magic.”
--Jacob A. Boyd