My debut novel, WIFI – Wizarding Information For Invoking, was in development for around four years before being published this year. I first came up with the concept of making a modern fairy tale during a lunch break at an administration job. However, the story evolved as time progressed. I lived through fairy tale worlds most my life so it was logical that I’d end up creating my own.
I never grew out of my obsession with fairy tales and fantasy stories from childhood. The concept of going on a magical quest or a long journey will always appeal to me. As a child, I often prayed that I would stumble into my own Wonderland, just like Alice, or fly to Neverland with Peter Pan. I wanted to live in my own magical world and skip down the yellow brick road alongside Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I never really engaged with the real world. I was not the sporty boy and I didn’t possess the best head for schoolwork. It was by chance I stumbled into literature.
Like many children of the 90’s, I was obsessed with a certain book series by R.L Stine. ‘Goosebumps’ offered a spooky story aimed specifically to kids, not to mention fantastic covers. Therefore, I decided to write my own ‘Goosebumps’ book. With some glue sticks, a horde of felt tip pens, and assistance from my parents, I ended putting together my own ‘Goosebumps’‘ book. Suddenly, I was excelling in English class and I realised I had a passion for creativity. It was thereafter, I felt the urge to become a writer, which led me to study creative writing at Middlesex University. After graduating, I wrote several projects but it was only when writing WIFI that I felt a strong connection to the story.
Initially, I was writing a short story about an evil witch and the curse she placed on a vulnerable girl. The idea was to revisit classic fairy tales I had loved so much as a child. I wanted to recreate the traditional clichés of wicked crones and exotic magical creatures. Nevertheless, WIFI follows old tropes, which was intentional. I had my protagonist be the familiar poor girl raised by a wicked family, I made certain there would be the handsome prince, and last but not least, the intrinsically evil villain. With one major exception, this fairy tale was set in the modern world and magic was used through technology.
It had become my peeve that fantasy stories, especially ones released in more recent years, did not acknowledge modern technology. For example, the witches and wizards of ‘Harry Potter‘ only used old forms of magic summoned from ancient tomes. Just refer to most recent books or films regarding witches or wizards for further proof. It felt strange to me that magic had not adapted in the fictional world, or at least been updated. I wanted to see a world where witches were using technology to harness the power. Something that was likened to Artemis Fowl, but with a less masculine/action approach. The issue for me was how to craft an original idea whilst using many of the creatures and cliches of previous fantasy books.
It later occurred to me humans had become reliant on technology to get through daily life. We no longer use paper maps, we rarely go into the banks, everything has turned to its virtual equivalent. So I wondered what would happen if witches no longer practised the craft and instead were relying on technology to do the magical work for them. I soon went into a rabbit hole of potential stories creating a notebook brimming with geographies, rules on magic and histories of witches and warlocks.
Thanks to my husband, I had gained some sufficient knowledge regarding digital advertisement and coding languages, which I was able to incorporate into the book to give it some duality to our own universe. However, I knew that I needed to independently research different technologies.
It is safe to say the Internet is the most useful tool of the modern age. The wifi is the lifeline that enables us to connect to the Internet. I had been certain the term wifi was a technical acronym, “wireless Internet frame” would have been my guess. But, then I discovered the strangest thing: wifi didn’t stand for anything at all! It was then I knew it must secretly stand for Wizarding Information For Invoking. That was the biggest breakthrough and became the centralised technology for my fantasy world.
The story soon grew past the realms of a short story but I wanted to retain the simplistic styles of old fairy tales. That did not mean the story would not have plot twists or exciting character developments. It just meant old formulas could be redesigned. Readers may find the HTML has a cartoon quality that is akin to Disney villains. Of course, I always find Disney villains the most intriguing characters in the movie. I wanted to recapture the glory of evidently malicious evildoers. She may be theatrical but like many villains, in the real world, her power comes from the technology and army that surrounds them.