By Virginia Burton Stringer
Princess Maagy’s coming of age story is universal throughout the centuries. No matter when or where she might have lived, she is every-girl and every-woman.
I’m often asked how I came up with this story that has taken over my life for the past fourteen years. Well, I’m female and I’ve raised two daughters. Even now, I still remember the thrill of seeing my “crush” suddenly turn the corner in my elementary school hallway. My face flushed, my heart pounded, and I could hardly breathe. The object of my affection was walking toward me. As he passed, I could smell his cologne. It made me giddy. Was he as attracted to me? I was only in the sixth grade, around eleven or twelve years old. I was a tom-boy riding horses and playing football with boys at recess. I was painfully shy but covered it with sass, spit, and vinegar. I had no clue those sudden, strong emotions were due to the chemical changes happening in my body. My parents hadn’t had “the talk” with me.
All I knew was this must have been love.
As a teenager in the full throes of high school society with mediocre academics and better athletic achievements, I still felt shy and awkward. However, I have recently become aware that others perceived me as an extroverted, confident, social butterfly flitting from clique to clique never lighting with one group for too long. Thus, it goes for many teen girls.
Teen girls often under estimate their value and positive influence on the world around them.
When I became a mother of two daughters, I remembered with great nostalgia my tween and teen years. I knew my girls would experience the same adrenaline rushes of hormones and goose bumps I had felt. They too would fall madly in and out of love, get their hearts broken, and face the challenges of breaking out of their chrysalises to spread their wings and become the multicolored butterflies they were meant to be.
These profound changes come with a few scrapes and bruises along the way.
Life for me was not a bowl of cherries after high school. Financial struggles, a failed marriage, three jobs while earning a degree, and a son to raise alone were great teachers of tenacity and patience. Only now, the latter of these has found a place in my world. A second successful marriage and two daughters then followed. But time moves on and I found myself with an empty nest in 2004 having sent my precious baby girls off to college and on to adulthood in New York City. My son had long since grown up, married, and had two adorable little daughters of his own who were ironically and spookily similar to his baby sisters.
One day, in what I can only describe as a contemplative funk, the idea of an impetuous little spoiled princess with a sour disposition popped into my head. Could it have been my own conscience screaming at me that I should have been a better mother? Was it my artistic voice whispering that it was time for me now? No matter, I began writing what I thought would be a 50-minute children’s play about this unpleasant child. There would definitely be a moral to the story, though I didn’t quite know what it was at the time, but no good children’s play is without a teaching moment.
So, Princess Melania Abigail Alice Grace was born. Actually, I first met her on her thirteenth birthday when she threw a tantrum because there was no spumoni ice cream for breakfast.
I soon realized this story I had named Growing Up Maagy was not a children’s play. At 150-something pages of more stage directions than dialogue, this was no longer a play at all. It wasn’t even a short story! I continued to write about the adventures of my princess from her point of view, thus, leaving out key components of her life before age thirteen. I rationalized (being a novice writer) that I couldn’t tell it because Maagy didn’t know, therefore, I couldn’t say it. A dear friend from my past, who happened back into my life at the exact right time, kindly pointed out that I wasn’t Maagy. I was the writer. I was omniscient. It changed my world. It changed the story for the better. Soon I was writing furiously in two books at the same time.
Then one morning, I woke up on Maagy’s sixteenth birthday. Literally, the words, “Happy Birthday, Maagy!” were in my head.
I wrote for the entire day in the new book I called Enchantment. Soon, the story continued with Warrior. Then came Wizard Queen and the one now called Legacy. I really thought that was it. I thought I had ended the series in a tidy bundle. However, the next morning I awoke with the thought, “What would things look like in sixteen years?”. And just like that, voila, I figured out how to really end the series! Thus, there are now seven books in some form of completion or publication with The Last Heir as the final saga.
The other most asked question is, “What is the central theme of the Maagy Book Series?”
As I wrote, I called on my own childhood memories and experiences to give Maagy life. I wanted her to grow and learn and become a better person. I wanted readers to see, as I had seen raising my daughters, that young girls are intriguing enigmas of constant contradiction in their journey through puberty toward adulthood.
“Sir, she is a little girl in a woman’s skin. She is too mature to be unaware, but too immature to be rational. Thus, it goes with young girls. They are a strange breed…” (Enchantment)
What I discovered was that I was writing a very long metaphor about the journey little girls must embark upon in order to become grown women. This turbulent nightmare from around age twelve or thirteen and ending around age eighteen or nineteen is a very short time period with tremendous impact. The potential ripples caused by this tidal wave of emotions, missteps, defiant acts, endless tears of angst, and many arguments and reconciliations can last for years. However, given enough love and patience, these amazing creatures find their way back. Forgiveness is powerful and necessary.
Maagy’s exploration of Summer Castle in Just Maagy is indicative of how all girls begin to explore their changing bodies and come to grips with unfamiliar feelings. She is thunderstruck by a handsome prince whom she meets on a shopping trip. As her story unfolds throughout the series, Maagy’s relationship with her father changes, as she learns to stand on her own and become a warrior with a mission. Isn’t this what all adolescent girls experience in their journey toward womanhood?
I never intended to write something with so much weight. I just wanted to tell the story of an impetuous little Princess named for my two daughters Alice and Melanie, and my two granddaughters Abigail and Grace.
“They” say, “write what you know”. Well, I know what being a woman is all about. I know what being the mother of girls is all about. I find it amazing that I who am not an avid reader has been able to use my own experiences to create a story that is not only entertaining but one that has meaning and moral for anyone who takes the time to get to know Princess Maagy.