Fantasy and Thrill Rides

by Gail Z. Martin

I’ve often said that I focus on making my books entertaining, like a roller coaster.  I want people to get a rush out of the ups and downs and get to the end wanting to do it again.  Maybe that’s because I absolutely love theme parks, amusement parks and fairs.  I love the tinny music, the smell of all that artery-clogging bad-for-you yummy food, and the excitement of wondering what’s around the next bend.

Part of what I love about amusement parks and fairs is way it blocks out the real world.  When you get into the middle of the park, you can’t see anything of the outside world.  You’re in a place that’s separate from your normal life.  While you’re there, the “real” world doesn’t exist.  It’s all one big adventure.  Kinda like a good book.

I also love the total immersion.  All the senses are engaged—sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.  When you’re in a really well-run park or fair, those senses are expertly manipulated to heighten the experience.  There is so much going on around you that you stop thinking about your to-do list or what’s waiting on your desk at work or what you need at the grocery store and just revel in the moment.  And again, it’s the same way that a good book makes you forget all your troubles or responsibilities for a blissful interlude.

Of course, amusement parks and fairs are always best at night.  When it gets dark, the lights come on, bright and blinding, an artificial aurora, non-stop neon.  At night, everything looks its best because you can’t see the places where the paint needs to be touched up, or the wires or the electric cords.  The fantasy is at its best because it becomes seamless, even a little disorienting.  Suspension of disbelief is complete, and child-like wonder takes over.

Whether it’s Six Flags or Cedar Point or Disney World or Carowinds or just the county fair or local Renaissance festival, that’s probably me you see wandering around looking a little starry-eyed, taking it all in.  It’s the next best thing to a good book!

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