Anyone who knows me well, knows that I like nothing more than walking the tightrope between fact and fantasy.
As a father to Ariane and Timur I have allowed myself to be indulged like any parent, and find myself hiding in the Twilight Zone between these two worlds.
I’ve written about storytelling before, especially in my book In Arabian Nights, and I have postulated that the default setting of humanity is to believe in, and to be touched by the magic of, stories.
This is a subject that’s very important to me, because I’ve seen the extraordinary effect it can have. In childhood, a story can placate a classroom of unruly toddlers, but its role with adults is all the more profound.
As I have come to learn, stories are a medium by which ideas, values and knowledge, can be passed on from one person to the next. It’s an effortless transfer, one that happens without us realising that it’s taking place. This tells me that humans have always used such a method by which to learn, a method that curiously has become distorted in the Occidental world.
We regard stories as an amusement, a frivolity, something for children. But, of course, that isn’t strictly true… because stories are all around us.
Look for example at all the books that are published by leading business gurus (as I have), and you’ll see that they’re little more than a stream of anecdotes… stories. And don’t get me wrong – that’s a great thing – because the business community realises that stories are a way of packaging ideas.
Think of all those TV commercials for inane products that we spend our lives salivating over, and then shunning when we get them home. Why do we buy them? We do because the advertisements tell us a tale of Mr. A and Mrs. B whose lives were changed by them.
We can’t help ourselves but be sucked in.
Why? Well, it’s because of human conditioning.
And ask yourself, why are TV soap operas so wildly addictive… The answer is because they reach out to an ancient part of our brains, the one that craves material packaged as stories.
Hollywood is of course the zillion-dollar dream machine that it is because it offers stories, stories and yet more stories, arranged in ways we can’t help but lap up.
I wrote Scorpion Soup for two reasons.
The first is because I live and breathe stories, and see the world through their lens.
And the second… well, I am hoping that someone out there will read these stories and will sit down with a pen and paper, and come up with some of their own.
After all, there’s an audience out there, with an insatiable appetite for the tales you have to tell.