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Fairy tales, fantasy, legend and myth... these stories, and their topics, and the symbolism and interpretation of those topics... these things have always held an inexplicable fascination for me, " she writes. "That fascination is at least in part an integral part of my character - I was always the kind of child who was convinced that elves lived in the parks, that trees were animate, and that holes in floorboards housed fairies rather than rodents. You need to know that my parents, unlike those typically found in fairy tales - the wicked stepmothers, the fathers who sold off their own flesh and blood if the need arose - had only the best intentions for their only child. They wanted me to be well educated, well cared for, safe - so rather than entrusting me to the public school system, which has engendered so many ugly urban legends, they sent me to a private school, where, automatically, I was outcast for being a latecomer, for being poor, for being unusual. However, as every cloud does have a silver lining - and every miserable private institution an excellent library - there was some solace to be found, between the carved oak cases, surrounded by the well-lined shelves, among the pages of the heavy antique tomes, within the realms of fantasy. Libraries and bookshops, and indulgent parents, and myriad books housed in a plethora of nooks to hide in when I should have been attending math classes... or cleaning my room... or doing homework... provided me with an alternative to a reality I didn't much like. Ten years ago, you could have seen a number of things in the literary field that just don't seem to exist anymore: valuable antique volumes routinely available on library shelves; privately run bookshops, rather than faceless chains; and one particular little girl who haunted both the latter two institutions. In either, you could have seen some variation upon a scene played out so often that it almost became an archetype: A little girl, contorted, with her legs twisted beneath her, shoulders hunched to bring her long nose closer to the pages that she peruses. Her eyes are glued to the pages, rapt with interest. Within them, she finds the kingdoms of Myth. Their borders stand unguarded, and any who would venture past them are free to stay and occupy themselves as they would.

Helen Pilinovsky
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