Scheherazade (2)

Continuing Scheherazade’s story from yesterday:

“Against her father’s wishes, Scheherazade volunteered to marry the king. Once in the king’s chambers, Scheherazade asked if she might bid one last farewell to her beloved younger sister, Dunyazad, who had secretly been prepared to ask Scheherazade to tell a story during the long night. The king lay awake and listened with awe as Scheherazade told her first story. The night passed by, and Scheherazade stopped in the middle. The king asked her to finish, but Scheherazade said there was no time, as dawn was breaking. So the king spared her life for one day so she could finish the story the next night. The following night Scheherazade finished the story and then began a second, more exciting tale, which she again stopped halfway through at dawn. Again, the king spared her life for one more day so that she could finish the second story.

“Thus the king kept Scheherazade alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the conclusion of each previous night’s story. At the end of 1,001 nights, and 1,000 stories, Scheherazade finally told the king that she had no more tales to tell him. During the preceding 1,001 nights, however, the king had fallen in love with Scheherazade. He wisely spared her life permanently and made her his queen.”

As I read Scheherazade’s stories, I was mesmerized as much by the setting as I was by the twists and turns of the tales. Many years later, as an adult, I visited the area Scheherazade described. By then, I had already spent a good many years in East Asia and was accustomed to living in a culture different from my own. And yet, for all that, the fictional world of A Thousand and One Nights, devoid of poverty and the destruction of modern industrialization, remained fixed in my fantasy.

As a result, I, as a writer, learned the magic of creating a fictional place so compelling that readers believe it is real.

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