Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Creative Writing


Jessica L. Powers



As I sit and ponder the best way to describe my experience as an author and a reader through the lens of both an analyst and an appreciator of literature, I am forced to tap into why fantasy fiction moves me and how I can replicate that feeling for others. How is my world unfolding itself to invite others to immerse in its culture, language, and lore? Beyond the world-building, how do I share a message I value through the magic and mythology that hold my plot and characters?

When I began to create Narth, it was as a twenty-year-old student sitting in her dorm room doing everything she could to escape the endless cycle of homework, exams, and a part-time job as a child-care worker. I had grown up reading books to escape to Narnia and Hogwarts, but now I wanted to write a place of my own to seek refuge. At the time, my mindset was entirely self-serving, with little thought to how this, that, or the other might affect someone else who reads what I wrote. Pre-Narth, I had always had an imaginative mind. Even before Disney was a centerpiece to my life, playing make-believe in universes that included magic, mythical creatures, and perilous adventures was part of my every day. Like many youths, I journaled ideas and blended an already existing world into my own but never thought to make my stories realized. Narth was the tipping point, though no huge light bulb turned on over my head to think, “I wish my story were real.” Frankly, Narth was a project I had a very touch-and-go relationship with; like other fantasy worlds, writing a complete story from Narth was a fantasy to me. I was practical. I was in college to get a degree, a job, a stable career (whatever that was supposed to mean to me), and maybe get married and have kids before I turned thirty.

Now I have passed all those so-called milestones, having collected none save for marriage. As I have barely passed the thirty-year mark in life, Narth is closer than ever to me. I finally have given time to nurture, mature, and grow it into something that isn’t just fulfilling a desire to escape my reality but to intersect it. The story from Narth I have written is about two young teenage siblings who are tossed around from foster family to foster family after their mother has been deemed ineligible to care for them safely. Myles and Mika (ME-kuh) Sora find themselves launched into the world of Narth, somewhere between Earth and the vast galaxy beyond. Struggling with the loss of family, home, and any grounding to anything from familiar, the Sora siblings try to find a way back to Earth but encounter external and internal obstacles. From Myles’ own hubris to be the fixer and protector to Mika’s desire to belong and be accepted, both face personal battles to fight alone and alongside one another.

My world collides with theirs as I have written myself split between Myles and Mika. Myles represents the frustrations and anger I bore for years without even realizing how angry I had become. I was passively bullied and given backhanded compliments regularly and smiled through gritted teeth before finding reprieve in my pillow through tears. Mika is my ever-present wound of a desire to be desired. As long as I can remember, I wanted closeness with people, but either because of my lack of social confidence or simply dislike of me, I ached for friends who wanted me because of who I am.

I wanted a lonely child’s voice to come through these siblings and how their conflict between themselves and within themselves represents regular inward battles people of all ages face. Learning to love yourself, accept yourself, and be yourself in the face of opposition is a universal conflict. That is the Soras’ story in Narth.

The fuel for this world I built is heavily sourced from my childhood love for C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. When I think about Lewis’ own discovery of Narnia, I find a kindred spirit between us, “By mid-life, however, Lewis experienced a resurgence of his youthful heart. Once again the lure of the far country and fascination with imaginary worlds occupied his thoughts,” (Dorsett 59). That nagging desire to escape never really goes away. While I consider Lewis a much wiser intellectual than I will ever be, I felt as if I could reach across decades to have the desire to breathe life into our imaginary worlds.

But the ideation to the execution requires understanding how Lewis successfully wrote one of our age's most recognizable fantasy worlds, requiring readers and writers to pull apart the sinews that connect the real and relatable to the magical and mythic. As a writer, Lewis had to find a way to lead his readers into his world and out of their own. He had to make the right connection that would intrigue and entice curiosity. Lewis’ use of the backdrop of World War II to land the Pevensies would have resonated with readers at the time who still felt the ripples of a post-war world in the fifties. This grounds the story in the bleak reality of wartime casualties. While not death, the disaster of imminent danger separates the Pevensies from everything they know and love, their family, friends, and home. This separation creates a sense of dread, uncertainty, and disconnect, which prepares them to enter a new world, a new normal, much like the readers were learning to experience as World War II had ended. New normal was setting in across the globe. Lewis implements a lamppost to bridge the world from the wardrobe to the winter scape. It all at once signals to the reader that there is something familiar in Narnia but departed from the natural world of England and World War II. It is simple but effective in leading our main characters into Narnia and helps guide them back home at the end of their story.

The connection Lewis makes between worlds is subtle compared to J.K. Rowling’s’. The Wizarding world coexists invisibly with the rest of the world. It spills in such a way that immediately, Harry and those around him recognize there is a foreign connection between himself and somewhere else. In Rowling’s’ case, blending worlds together was like leaving breadcrumbs for readers to follow as Harry’s story unfolded excitedly.

What is common for both these famous fantasy pieces is the anticipation that is drummed up in the first few pages of their stories. The Pevensies are sent away abruptly because of war and discover a wardrobe that leads them somewhere new. Harry notices odd occurrences as he lives with the Dursleys but with little explanation. For the reader, it is clear “something’s happening,” and are given permission to imagine what’s on the other side of that wardrobe, or what exactly do all those letters delivered by owls say? Fantasy flourishes when the anticipation of answers that are supernatural arises.

Thematically, stories like the entire chronicles of Narnia reveal time-old truths about good and evil; right and wrong; love and fear, but they are made concrete in actions and adventures played out by a cast of characters. In realistic fiction, where allusions to these abstract analogies may feel a little too close to the reader to see the clarity of the message, fantasy can allow the reader to deduce who the heroes and villains are quick. Whether in name or exaggerated appearances, there often needs to be more guesswork on how the reader perceives many of the characters. This does not suggest that the author uses no twists and turns to mislead the reader with an exciting reveal and subversion of expectations. As for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the title may elucidate immediately what might be in store for the reader. At first glance, it might be interpreted that the lion might be something good, the witch something bad, and the wardrobe might be worth exploring beyond the cover to see what the wardrobe means. Just enough information is spoon-fed upon a brief look to snatch someone’s attention. Fantasy as a story offers a map of how the world is laid out, the setup is swift, and the characters are established, so themes come to light fairly quickly.

The appeal to this quick delivery is it offers that initial escapism that children and adults crave from their daily lives. Getting to Narina or Hogwarts is all at once an exciting bridge to cross but also enticing because there is a simplicity in explaining who is good and who is bad. Unlike our real world, where people can be far more complicated, frustrating, and contradictory, there is safety in fantasy fiction that allows us to let our guard down just enough to take on an otherworldly adventure.

Once the reader can enter this new world and see the themes cropping up quickly, the illusion must sustain. This is where mastery of world-building grounds the readers in a new place and time. Contemporary young adult fantasy author Leigh Bardugo who created the Grisha Universe in her trilogy, duology, and stand-alone novels, has made a fresh world outside of wizards, magic, and a myriad of humanoid races. She has a real grasp on what makes her world differ from many others, “When people hear ‘high fantasy’ or ‘epic fantasy,’ they tend to think of worlds based on medieval Europe. But the world of the Grisha Trilogy was inspired by tsarist Russia of the early 1800s –think sabers, muskets, and samovars instead of broadswords, crossbows, and tankards. So, for now, I’m sticking with tsarpunk. Or just waggling my fingers and saying ‘Faaaantasy!’” (Bardugo 439)

She distinguishes her world with names that are Russian in origin, highlights parts of the language with Russian words, and describes the architecture as less castle-like and more palace in nature. It is woven into the backdrop of her world without any transitions from the real world to Grishaverse. But she does not overwhelm the reader with lengthy paragraphs of descriptive text; rather, it unfolds through her protagonist’s eyes. Though even in this world, Alina Starkov finds herself much like Lucy Pevensie and Harry Potter and is thrust into a new life, learning that she has abilities as a Grisha (a manipulator of elements around them) that she never knew about. A common cartographer is now a supreme-level sorceress that people worship.

Bardugo’s ability to efficiently and effectively entice the reader to embark on Alina her journey is swiftly implemented within the first two pages. From the first person POV, Bardugo’s first book Shadow and Bone, opens with a description of the world around Alina. The paragraph is familiar to the reader by describing fields and valleys but mentioning the “Shadow Fold” adds intrigue. But Bardugo doesn’t allow the reader to become lost in the world and is quick to describe it through Alina’s reaction, “...I shivered in my cost as I eyed the haze that lay like a dirty smudge on the horizon” (Bardugo 8). A perfect example of showing, not telling, the reader can quickly imagine the location of the Shadow Fold without overly expository and flowery words. It allows Bardugo to get straight into Alina’s character in the following paragraphs: “‘Why don’t you watch your fat feet’ I snapped, and took some satisfaction from the surprise that came over his broad face. People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don’t expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it,” (8-9). Nothing is overly complicated or requires the reader to stretch far to digest the newness of Bardugo’s universe. Like meeting someone with great charisma and intelligence, worldbuilding at its finest makes the reader want to explore and discover.

While world-building is a bold statement establishing time and place, the protagonist has more nuance. The irony of a great fantasy is that it often introduces the reader to the seemingly average person, student; average soldier; average peasant. Pulling an everyday Joe or Jane from the public and learning through fantastic sets of events that they are not such ordinary itches that ultimate desire to leave one’s own world and make-believe for a vicarious moment they are not so stuck in their mundane lives. They can slip into the shoes of a Lucy, Harry, or Alina and be given powers and authority they would not otherwise have. For Narth to work, honing the elements that make successful and time-tested stories of fantasies requires finding its own unique value in characters, place, and conflict. Exploring my personal struggles between two protagonists that flip between points of view will hopefully hit the mark to qualify it as a new fantasy. With some contextualization of the path Narth will follow, there is a discussion of its own elements and the influences on specific themes I aim to touch on, including transracial acceptance, racism, and coming of age amid personal upheaval.

To clarify, I will use the word “transracial,” as defined by Merriam-Webster. When I first began my analysis of my own work, this was a word I found best described my experience; however, I have learned there are other usages of it now. I chose the word to describe the fact that I was born across multiple races. However, being born into a white family and community, my cultural experiences are aligned with middle-class white America. But because of my physical appearance, I was treated as an outsider.

While the Soras’ experiences do not mimic my own childhood and adolescence, the essence of struggling to accept oneself is prevalent. Aside from inner growth, Myles and Mika traverse obstacles in different ways, adding to their inter-relational growth as siblings. Much like the relationships that the Pevensies have, the Soras test their bonds in the face of individual choices they may or may not agree with. Diving beyond the elements of fantasy and looking at the topics that will illustrate the themes of good and evil include race identity, passive and active racism, and transracial otherness. These are all issues I have personally grappled with, and I still chip away at my understanding of them today. If I had written Narth fourteen years ago, when it first was conceived, it would not have been fully realized or have the impact that it needs as it has taken my adult years to identify the reasons for anger, resentment, and lingering loneliness. How much my feelings have toggled between anger and sadness to some extreme degrees is why I decided to divide those two reactionary feelings into two people. By putting these struggles in two people, I can thoroughly explore two sides of the same coin.

As an Asian-Mexican American, adopted by a white family from infancy and being integrated into an upper-middle-class society comprised of 99.9% white people, my perspective about myself was simply poor. The soup kitchens I helped serve in South Austin on weekends with my white youth group were filled with minorities who were majority Hispanic - people who looked like me. But I mimicked the pitying looks towards them that my peers shared.

Asians were little to non-existent (except for me) in the circles I ran in and were the soft punching bag for jokes about how great they were at math and how bad they were at driving. Pulling back the edges of their eyes and saying “Ching-Chong” was an acceptable form of humor. Being part Asian but also still a child, I thought this was playful teasing at my expense. When I got to high school, comments like “Well, I’m glad I don’t have dark hair like you because grays will show sooner” was the most direct statement to me that wasn’t said in jest that I thought, “Wow, that hurts.” College was the first time I heard a slur directed at me by a friend (whom I had a massive crush on). He happened to be a white guy (as were all the crushes I had developed), who, with a smile, said, “Why don’t you date one of your kind?” That struck a nerve I didn’t know existed. A lump formed in my throat, and tears unexpectedly pushed against my eyeballs, and I tried to laugh through my confusion, “What do you mean?” Without hesitation, he blurted, “Y’know, a beaner.”


My ex-boyfriend of four years broke up with me on Thanksgiving eve and said, “I thought I would end up with someone that looked like me, light skin, blue eyes.”

Double ouch.

To reconcile my race and my upbringing, I have had to find new milestones representing the acceptance of myself and others’ perceptions of me, which included learning more about my Mexican and Japanese heritage. Narth is Mika and Myles’ heritage. I envy they can discover so much more about their history sooner than I have. (I am still missing my birth father’s side). Mika especially learns that whether on Earth or in Narth, she does not outwardly look the same as her peers. She must find value and innate acceptance of herself. The Soras’ story will illuminate the struggles of being young people of color, orphans, and foreigners. The levels of otherness are deep. And self-doubt is hard enough as a fresh teenager, much less feeling ostracized for reasons that are no fault of their own.

Asian-American author Celeste Ng’s fiction novel Our Missing Hearts captures a great deal of fear revolving around being of Asian descent that I find nightmarish. It is the furthest consequence of a country that fully despises Asian culture, appearance, and essence. Set in a not-too-distant dystopian American future, Bird, a twelve-year-old boy, is on a quest to find his Chinese mother after a new nationalist regime takes hold. Severe discrimination targeting Asians is rampant and threatens livelihoods and lives. Bird only learns to understand the dire nature of his life when his white father stares him down in disappointment after Bird endangers them: “It isn’t just dangerous to research China or go looking for Japanese folktales. It’s dangerous to look like him, always has been. Being his mother’s child in more ways than one is dangerous. His father has always known it, been braced for something like this, and was always on a hair trigger for what inevitability would happen to his son. What he’s afraid of: that one day someone will see Bird’s face and see an enemy” (Ng 82).

Fiction disarms some preconceived notions about contemporary topics because it bypasses the historical documentation one might be compelled to point to and disprove a non-fiction work or discredit a personal account like a memoir. Fantasy fiction is specially equipped to help people take off their reality and put on the unique perspective of seeing a whole new world. Even if the ideas presented in fiction are completely contrary to one’s truth, the reader can compartmentalize their reality and the book’s since “it’s just fantasy.” There is a safety barrier that readers sit behind as they filter the fiction they read and can analyze, discuss, and interpret the meanings. Since Narth presents as a fictional world, though mirrors many contemporary situations, I hope that the topics that lay beneath its layers will not be missed. I hope that readers find Narth’s story to be approachable and engaging.

Regarding racism and racial identity, I have only scratched the surface in understanding the long-term effects I have felt in my life. Exploring how even passive racism has left a defining mark on how I perceive myself is something I have grappled with and now leaks into the message of my written work. The erasure of Asian-ness in Our Missing Hearts reminded me of how I have often wanted to erase my own Asian-ness. I wanted blue contacts and to bleach my hair blonde. I wanted to be seen as white and be treated as white. My parents, as loving as they were, could never understand my experiences and the frustration it was to be transracial in a predominantly white community. Despite the lack of acceptance, I felt from my peers, my parents regularly reminded me of their love, but without the words, vocabulary, or understanding, I could not clearly express the myriad of emotions I felt. Often, I would reduce it to phrasing it as “I’m lonely. I have no friends. Nobody likes me.”

Only recently did I hear the thoughts I had swirling in my head come close to coherent through Cathy Park Hong, who wrote in Minor Feelings:

“In every Asian culture, stories abound of women disappearing or going mad without explanation. The most that would be revealed was that something ‘bad’ happened. In psychoanalysis, the pain that trolls your nerves detaches from your body once you talk about it. Naming that pain takes the sting out of the incident, makes it mortal, manageable, even extinguishable. But I grew up in a culture where to speak of pain would not only retraumatize me but traumatize everyone I love, as if words are not a cure but a poison that will infect others." (Hong 156-57)

Hong’s own non-fiction still chills me. Her tone is cold and angry. But that is a side of myself that I had long swallowed down. It is that part of me that has longed to have a voice. That voice is now Myles. Hong’s Asian American experience represents parts of me that were angry that I was Asian in a white family. That part of me is explored in Myles coming to terms with one being new to Narthian society and two looking different than other Narthians (i.e. Asian features). While he witnesses Mika’s struggles through the microaggressions and passive racism from her peers on Earth, Narth forces him to face the fact that he looks different; he cannot escape the feeling of otherness. A striking portion of Hong’s work makes me think about how Myles will face proving himself in Narth. This is Hong’s recitation of her poetry at a reading:

I confront the infinite chasm between the audience’s conception of Poet and the underwhelming evidence of me as that poet. I just don’t look the part. Asians lack presence. Asians take up apologetic space. We don’t even have enough presence to be considered real minorities. We are not racial enough to be token. We’re so post-racial we’re silicon. (Hong 7).

If you replace the word “Poet” in this case with the word “Narthian,” it fits how it might feel for Myles and Mika to navigate several layers of being a minority. Myles and Mika are orphans. They are Asian. They are Earthen.

Between the sadness of being alone and the frustration of feeling helpless, Mika and Myles must uncover their silenced voice to begin to build the identity they didn’t get a chance to do in a traditional two-parent home. With Myles being fourteen and Mika being twelve, they are transitioning from childhood into young adolescent years. A healthy transition would include them having anchors of parenting that gave them the security they need to be grounded and learning to be comfortable in their own skin. They might have questions and struggles, but with a guardian or parent to guide them, they would ideally begin to form a self-identity with confidence.

As Myles and Mika will learn, their identity is somewhere between being a Narthian from an area called Kurta, which is home to many other people who look like them, but their father’s lineage is from the Capital of Narth, who also looks like them, though he has bleached his hair to fit into upper-class Narthian society. They look like the minorities of this world, treated as such, but their own father has white-washed himself to be acceptable to the higher ranks. Being white, being Capital-quality Narthian is desirable. Being orphaned, refugees from an outskirt area of minorities who dissented from the Capital are, at best, pitied, at worst, condemned.

Other aspects of understanding racial identity are searching through the mysterious heritage of a transracial adopted person’s past. Mika and Myles do not experience any traditional form of adoption but are rather forced to face questions about where they came from. In Nicole Chung’s All You Could Ever Know: A Memoir, Chung reflects on her life as an adopted Asian-American who finds her biological family. She wrestles with her identity as a Korean American, trying to reclaim her heritage as she becomes a new mother. As she grew up, she understood she was different. She was not allowed to think otherwise. She describes Pieces of Chung’s middle-school years as being regularly “demanded” to explain where she came from or why she looked different from her white parents. The questions she must ask herself about her origins without concrete answers create a layer of anxiety unique to her adolescent experience. Myles and Mika must also answer their situation, “Where are you from?” “Who is your family?” “Why are you here?” A myriad of questions on top of the internal feelings of longing to reunite with their mother, longing to go back to when their stepfather was alive, and a longing to simply feel safe. With a child's basic needs not being fully met, these siblings have somehow to meet those bare necessities through poor coping skills. Mika displays withdrawn behavior, struggles to trust anyone other than Myles to make decisions, and overall lacks confidence in herself and her abilities. Myles regularly buries his frustration, clenching his jaw, and his teeth. He has restless nights and anxious thoughts driven by a tunnel vision notion to protect Mika at all costs. Because communication development was stunted right at the cusp of adolescence, the Sora siblings eventually reach a crossroads where Mika is too afraid to confront Myles with her concerns fully. Myles doesn’t feel like he is protecting Mika well enough, thus a failure. In both cases, the isolation drives them further apart from trusting one another. Their journey is to return to Earth, but they must also search for their identity.

This complex merge of race identity and cultural identity is termed succinctly from the Introduction by Ruth E. Van Reken in Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Around Worlds: “ our second edition we added our new term cross-cultural kid (CCK) to the lexicon as a way to include all of those who have interacted or are interacting significantly with two or more cultural worlds during childhood,” (Reken xiv). Myles and Mika would fall under this description if a sociologist should evaluate them, though their experience might be a few years beyond childhood. A poignant description of how CCK’s feel the ebbs and flows of their ever-transitioning world is cited by an Iranian author and poet, Mimi Khalvati:

‘The Soul Travels on Horseback.’ In this piece, Mimi paints a stunning picture of how we as humans experience cultural and geographic moves in today’s world. She describes how the soul follows the body, but slowly, on the back of a horse from one place to another in the midst of change. In a world where the rate of change is picking up to supersonic levels, we are left breathless. Yet she reminds us that in such a world, where the way for the horse is ‘beset by obstacles and thorns,’ we also have time to wait and process in the in-between world of an airport lounge. (Reken, Pollock 231)

If that horse Khalvati describes had wings, then this is the literal mode of transportation that takes the Soras’ breath away. They physically pass out on the way from Earth to Narth and wake up dazed, confused, and with little comfort of anything “going back to the way things were.” Thrust from childhood into adolescence through a series of events leading up to their departure to Narth, there is a physical, mental, and emotional transition that they must decode on their own.

Reken and Pollock make a distinction between change and transition, which is important for readers of Narth. “Change…It’s what happens outside or to you…Transition, defined by experts, is the ‘passage to the change.’ It focuses on the psychological and emotional changes people go through to arrive at the new place. In other words, transition is the process of adapting to the changes we experience” (Reken, Pollock 232). Another important difference that sums up how Myles and Mika develop in their story is that: “Change is often fast – an external event or series of events – while transition is a more internal and time-consuming process” (232). Changes Transitions Stepdad Stephen’s death. Myles and Mika become dependent on one parent. Rei Sora (Mom)’s illness leaves her unable to care for Myles and Mika. They lose confidence in Rei’s ability to parent them as she deteriorates. Myles and Mika were toted around to different foster homes. They become scared, anxious, develop coping skills turning inward. Myles and Mika are forced to Narth by Ms. Jolly’s Pegasus. They each must accept learning a new world while longing to return home even if things aren’t good on Earth. Dr. Darby welcomes them to Narth. Mika sees the potential of Narth, a place her mother spoke fondly of, but Myles refuses to accept it. Narthians make passive racists/classists comments, and Commander Kylar is. threatening Mika realizes racism exists even beyond Earth and will not fit it/belong. Myles is hypermotivated to leave Narth.

Pollock and Reken go on to list the multidimensional transitions that can occur:

  • The physical body must adapt to time zone and climate. Jet lag is real.
  • Our thinking (cognition) must adjust as language and culture change.
  • Emotions are in flux as both loss and excitement co-exist.
  • Our social lives tilt and remix in new ways.
  • Our spiritual dimension is also likely to feel stretched as our beliefs and inner identity get bumped about. (233)
  • This multifactored list of how transitions can affect the Soras plays out early on as they must find their feet in Narth. For Mika, she finds the acceptance of Narth a little less shocking since she has escaped to Narth in her own imagination, thanks to Rei’s stories that Mika has held tightly to. Myles, however, sees these stories as myths and fairytales, so dwelling on the “realness” of Narth is far from his scope of believable realities. He can barely admit that they are, in fact, in Narth, that he attends a Narthian school, and that he is forced into rituals and practices of Narthian students. Not until he participates in a process that matches him to a guardian creature, which all young Narthians do as a rite of passage into middle school, does he begin to transition into acceptance of his new way of living.

    Change and transition are part of everyone’s journey, but the responses to those changes and transitions create a story unique to each person’s experiences. Even as an adult, I think back to what it was like being a teenager. What sort of changes happened to me that forced me to transition my mental, emotional, and physical state internally? There is admittedly a therapeutic element to writing Narth, as many writers might understand. As they cross-examine what they are writing and, more importantly, why they are writing.

    Why am I writing Narth?

    Maybe all I can hope for is to be a drop in the bucket of good stories, but I do not think it diminishes my desire to hopefully create a world for youth and young adults to continue to explore grief and reconciliation. If I could go back to twelve-year-old me, I could share one thing: reconcile. Reconcile your feelings and relationships and do it as soon as possible. Even as an adult, I struggle to address the pains in my heart that I carry, and a change in scenery or people will help. But often, it is a transition of the heart that needs to be addressed.

    We see this struggle blatantly in Myles, who holds a grudge against his mother. We see a heartbroken Mika, who feels betrayed by her mother. They both are forced to leave Earth without having that reconciliation required for both of them to move on entirely. Although the adventures and encounters in Narth are exciting and impactful, the longing to return home constantly weighs on them. It is not because they miss the foster care system, but they miss what they used to have: a caring, loving family with a healthy family dynamic. However, even if they returned to Earth, they know that is not something waiting for them, nor is it something Narth can provide. “If we don’t address unresolved relational issues before moving, instead of taking them out, we’re taking the rocks in the sack with us. The difficulties don’t go away after the move. Instead, in leaving, we carry along the mental and emotional baggage of unresolved problems” (Reken, Pollock 241).

    It is difficult for most people, especially children, to realize the anger and pain they hold onto is affecting them despite changing the scenery. Even more often missed is the remedy for those negative feelings. Myles carries his anger and anxiety with him to Narth. He is forced to grasp his new reality and believes the only thing to squelch his frustration is taking Mika back to Earth. He needs to confront his mother and find forgiveness for her. Though Mika is at times thrilled to see that her mother’s stories are accurate, there is a developing rift within her as she learns Rei has not shared the whole truth about their heritage. The excitement of living out her dreams of Narth clashes with the lack of answers her mother failed to provide her. She yearns not just for her carefree childhood but needs to heal the image of her mother through forgiveness and compassion.

    Narth has been incubating in the privacy of my personal hard drives for over ten years. In those ten years, my beliefs, ideology, and worldview have also developed in unexpected ways, affecting my storytelling process. The mainstay that has grounded me to the core of Narth’s story is the literal picture of light in the darkness: shining starlight against a black sky. Something about that imagery I’ve seen every night has inspired me to keep writing. That bit of imagination that I believe keeps people dreaming for the future is what has stoked the flames of my story. I want to share that light in the night of someone’s life. The phrase “guiding light” comforts me as it often feels like I still often am stumbling around in the dark, searching for answers to life’s questions, big and small. Every now and then, something or someone crosses my path and lights up the room just enough to gain some clarity. It is hard not to wish for more, but I stay grateful for the bright and certain moments. As I consider how Myles and Mika must find their own versions of guiding light to navigate Narth back to Earth, I think about how the lantern in Narnia bridges the Pevensies back home, but only when they are ready. The starlight that fuels the Narthian world will be the starlight that carries them back home, but only when they are ready.

    Work Cited and Consulted Bardugo, Leigh. The Grisha Trilogy. Square Fish, an Imprint of Macmillan, 2016.

    Brown, Waln K., and John Seita. Growing up in the Care of Strangers: The Experiences, Insights and Recommendations of Eleven Former Foster Kids. William Gladden Foundation Press, 2009.

    Chung, Nicole. All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir. Catapult, 2019.

    Collier, Jeremy. Not a Statistic: The True Life of a Foster Child. Bowker, 2020.

    Lewis, C. S., and Lyle W. Dorsett. The Essential C.S. Lewis. Scribner, 2017.

    Ellis, B. Heidi. Mental Health Practice with Immigrant and Refugee Youth: A Socioecological Framework. American Psychological Association, 2020.

    Hong, Cathy Park. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. One World, 2021.

    Knudsen, Lesia. Life in the Foster Lane: Practical Insights on Fostering Teens. 2019.

    Lewis, C. S., and Pauline Baynes. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. HarperCollins, 1998.

    Ng, Celeste. Our Missing Hearts: A Novel. Penguin, 2022.Pollock, David C., et al. Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing up among Worlds. E-book ed., Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2017. Transracial. Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2023.




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Available for download on Friday, January 01, 2123