How J.R.R. Tolkien and the ‘The Power of Fantasy’ Transformed my Life And The Source of the Heroines in ‘Tales Of The Ocean City’ by Chris Kaufman

Introduction:

My name is Chris Kaufman. I am a composer, voice actor, artist, concert presenter… a husband and father… and the author of the epic fantasy series ‘Tales Of The Ocean City’.  I think my story and stories will strike a chord with many people and I’d like to share with you how the work of J.R.R.Tolkien and ‘The Power of Fantasy’ played a huge role in transforming my life.

 — (different interests may have inspired your visit to this blogpost –  feel free to explore by the different headings: Tolkien, Heroines, Animal Friends) —

Long, long ago… in a land far away… my sister Alexandria and I lived, as kids, in something akin to Mordor.  Or, one could say… we survived quite a series of challenging situations! Our father was violent and our mother was neglectful… we were constantly moving… I could go on, but I don’t want to focus on negative details from the past.  Suffice it to say, we were often left to ourselves… in sometimes ‘less than ideal conditions’… and we got through it all chiefly through the imaginative play we engaged in.

I remember the first time our imaginations exploded into our creative worlds.  It was a Thursday night… I must’ve been around 7 years old… Alex 12… and our main characters were born.  They began as simple animal figures… Alex was ‘Inky’ an ocelot animal figure and I was ‘Ally’ an alligator. We played all night in the attic of our house, and on into the morning, creating wild fantastic adventures with our avatars.  Later, ‘Inky and Ally’ were accompanied by many others… Characters imbued with tremendous depth, evolved back stories and who engaged in harrowing adventures! Alex was quite passionate with her story making.  We sometimes played hooky from the miserable schools we attended in order to immerse ourselves in our imaginative universe. We also played music as we adventured, chiefly Tchaikovsky and Uriah Heep… especially Heep’s ‘The Wizard’… a song I still love… and which now my beautiful little daughter Sofia Rose dances to.

Tolkien

I’d like to acknowledge my ‘first teacher’, my other sister, Alice!  She was old enough to escape much of the turmoil our family was going through, and when I saw her it was often magical.  She gave me a great gift when I was ten years old… she gave me ‘The Hobbit’ to read! I remember the first magic of that book!  It was all encompassing… my imagination was on fire… I later read the entire LOTR trilogy about 17 times… every summer and winter.  I’d found music by then and I remember one summer where I would practice piano in the morning… read LOTR during lunch time… then play piano and study music all day… oboe in the evening… score reading at night… a summer of glorious 17 hour days… And an alternative life path was born… an alternative to the negative downward spiral I had been “trained for”… a path of my own creation and imagining… which was often challenging in itself… but my experience of imaginative play with Alex… and the examples of Frodo and Sam… led me through… still do… always will.

To the NOW:

‘The Power of Fantasy’ has won out and my greatest success is represented by my healthy home life… my beautiful wife Maryclare and our glorious daughter Sofia Rose! I write to you now a happy fellow pursuing the life of an independent artist with many branches and roots.
My concert music career continues… but now I’ve created the space to focus on Harl’ut and Vispushin… their close relationship… the epic story and music… and I have also discovered autobiographical elements in the story which I previously didn’t know were there.

Heroines!

This last is interesting… when I found these elements I decided to grow them a bit… let them happen and even celebrate them.  For example, in the first book of TOC – Battle In The Sky, you see the Princess Bryn’lynn get injured by the enemy Vorm War Chief near to death.  (Spoiler alert) Later in the series Bryn’lynn is transformed to an almost mythological super-heroine!  This is just like what I experienced when young and seeing my sister Alex horribly beaten up by our father… and now she, by the terrific power of her imagination and spirit… lives a happy life with her husband John in southern Oregon, living the life she dreamed… a farm with horses and goats and other animals!  So the character of Bryn’lynn is dedicated to Alex. Two other characters are also dedicated to my sisters…  the Captains of the Guard… the ‘Sister Twain’… Alessia and Alaxa!

So I want to thank my sisters once again… and let you know the source of these powerful and very real female characters.

Animal Friends

But what about the most powerful of all of my female characters…? Vispushin! Vispushin is Harl’ut’s bondmate… she is of the race ‘Perianth‘ and closely resembles a pegasus.  Harl’ut and Vispushin are very close, they communicate telepathically… were ‘bonded’ at Harl’ut’s birth… and have been together constantly since Harl’ut’s parents were lost in an expedition to the southern continent years ago.

The sources and dedication for Vispushin are Pranya and Anarion…  They were the creatures that accompanied me through my early life… my deepest friends from that time… creatures who were brilliant, loving and strong… and with whom I truly feel there was some type of telepathic connection at times. Pranya was a black fluffy half cocker spaniel/half poodle.  She was pure genius… she would sit there and talk to you.  I remember the first time this breakthrough happened… I started howling and she joined in… I have never laughed harder before or since… it went on and on… and ever since we vocalized to each other. When people were around… she would just sit there and vocalize to them… she was the smartest creature in the room.

Anarion was a sleek silver and black Polish off-breed German Shepherd… female even though I named her after Isildur’s older brother from LOTR! Another brilliant creature… very ‘Vispushin-like’… magical telepathy I can never prove or even talk about properly existed between us. She would often take me on walks… I am very nearsighted, you see, and went a long time without glasses because of the clueless people around me… and Vispushin and I (I mean Anarion!) would walk deep into strange forests, ‘beyond the fields we know’ you might say, where I had no idea of where we were… She led me.  At some point I would say… “Okay let’s head home”… and she’d give me a wink and head back to the cabin. That’s the way it was. I don’t have to prove it… just write it!

Thanks for reading – see you soon… it’s easy for me… I have only to take off my glasses and I see the glaze of Kurl’wra’s golden light mixing with the greenish rays of Gresha, the afternoon sun… and I always feel the fluff of Vispushin’s wings… or is that the memory of Anarion’s kiss?

‘The Power of Fantasy’ and the works of Tolkien, Alexander and the other great fantasy writers have helped me transform my life and ‘see’ with my imagination.

Here’s wishing you the same.

Chris Kaufman
‘Tales Of The Ocean City’

Book One ‘Tales Of The Ocean City: Battle In The Sky’
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7 thoughts on “How J.R.R. Tolkien and the ‘The Power of Fantasy’ Transformed my Life And The Source of the Heroines in ‘Tales Of The Ocean City’ by Chris Kaufman

  1. Great first post, dear brother, and I’m honored to be mentioned as an early influence and inspiration in your wonderful imaginings. I’m proud of how all three of us have developed into creative and happy souls. And thank you for dedicating the wonderful character of Bryn’lynn to me! I love you, bro!

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  2. That’s beautiful and inspiring, Chris, and thank you for sharing it. I’m only a little troubled by your implicit portrayal of fantasy play as an “escape from reality,” which indeed it may have been in your case. Unfortunately it reinforces the view of those who deride the genre, that we fantasy fans are a mob of pathetic losers whose personal lives are so wretched that we seek solace in our own, or others’, imaginings. I like it that you inverted this view, crediting fantasy with giving you a happy and balanced life today. But well-adjusted kids can benefit from it too. Fantasy is a means of coping with reality, not a way of avoiding it. My sister and I engaged in the same sort of imaginative play when we were growing up, and there were no issues of abuse or neglect in our family.

    In fact, we might have played with identical animal figures. Was your sister’s ocelot the one made by the Louis Marx Toy Co.? There weren’t a lot of ocelot figures around back then. I think the ocelot was a fad for about a year because Jayne Mansfield owned one. The Louis Marx company made animal figures packaged individually in separate little boxes, which sold at the five-and-dime for ten cents each. They were hand-painted in Hong Kong and made of a superior grade of plastic that sank in water. Most other plastic animals of the day floated. You had to be aware of that sort of thing when, for example, they were diving for sunken treasure in the bathtub. I had about a dozen Louis Marx animals, including the ocelot, and at least a thousand others.

    Our childhood fantasies have as great an impact upon our development as our real-life experiences and our relationships with other people. Possibly even more so, for it is in fantasy where we have the most control over our sense of identity. We in the creative arts are especially conscious of this. So it’s no surprise that they should find expression in your creative work now. Many of the elements in H. P. Lovecraft’s fantasy world, like the faceless flying Night-Gaunts, were creations of his childhood dreams — and nightmares. They never leave us, because they become part of who we are. As Headmistress Faragonda said to the Winx Club: “A fairy’s magical journey includes all her dreams and passions.” That goes for the rest of us as well.

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    • Lloyd Alexander said:
      “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”

      And I certainly agree with that…

      Tolkien said: “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. .”

      There’s a point both ways… and for me it was both at different times. These days, of course, more the former… I am now embarking on a journey that is mostly ecstatic in nature due to the results of imaginative work… and the music of it.

      The main point of the article I wrote is how The Power Of Fantasy can transform… anyone… whatever the starting place. It transcends one’s personal situation. No matter how difficult or pleasant one’s life may have been at any particular time, there will be travails and journeys, quests and arrival points. By experiencing imaginative adventures which include the basic dramatic principals of good storytelling… as well as plenty of flourishes of pure imagination… whether it’s the clear dramatic line of Frodo and Sam or the wild flourishes of E.R.Eddison’s ‘The Worm Ouroboros’… good fantasy has the very positive effect of growing our consciousness, and our ability to see what’s ahead, to imagine what’s possible for our lives… whether it’s working in the arts or any profession… or walking down the street and better enjoying the view… because you are now ‘seeing’ with your imagination! Every corner has more mystery beyond it… every shadow has more possibility… the world is less stark, more filled with wonder… and this is inspiring! Inspiring not escape from reality but to make more of it! To enjoy each second more fully, to enjoy and meditate on the play of light on water… and who knows where this can lead?

      Tolkien said it so well:

      “The Road goes ever on and on
      Down from the door where it began.
      Now far ahead the Road has gone,
      And I must follow, if I can,
      Pursuing it with eager feet,
      Until it joins some larger way
      Where many paths and errands meet.
      And whither then? I cannot say”

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