Thursday, January 13, 2011

I am a Magician

Posted by: Keri Stevens
I am a Magician.

As you read this, I am looking across a room full of virtual strangers. I will speak a two-word invocation—and each and every one of them will go down on all fours and stick their butts in the air.

All week we’ve been debating in this country the power of words. From the role of rhetoric in the tragic shootings near my old grocery store in Tucson, to the role a mother’s words play in crafting her child’s future, we ask, “Is the speaker responsible for how his speech influence the actions of others?”

My first reaction is, "Well, duh. That's the whole POINT of language." My more reasoned, analytical conclusion is still a limited “Yes.”  Sure I’ve been misread. I’ve been misunderstood. I’ve been mistaken (and spread my error like a disease to others). And yet, when I ask someone to please pass me the butter, he generally does.

Language is magic. We use it to change the minds and behaviors of others. We want them to love us. We want them to serve us. We want them to leave us. We want them to fear us.  We want them to pass the butter. We want them to stick their butts in the air.

Words cross time and unfathomable distances—my signature has gone to Mars, but I certainly never will. The wishes of a dead woman written in a will have power and authority far beyond the requests she made when she was alive.

People I’ve never met are emailing me that they’ve begun talking to inanimate objects in their house and yard since they’ve read Stone Kissed (in which the statues talk). Did I anticipate or intend such an effect? No. But I’ve changed their behavior, nevertheless.

In my faith tradition, words go beyond a magic tool or weapon we wield. I’ve been taught, quite simply, “…the word was God.” It doesn’t get much more powerful than that.

So I write romance. If I’m going to put ideas in people’s heads, I want them to be good ones. I want to convince someone (anyone, everyone) we are each worthy of and able to find love, in spite of the most horrible things that happen to us. Love survives and triumphs in the face of everything from abandonment to the zombie apocalypse.

Through romance novels, I sneak into that space just over your left ear and secretly sway you to my way perspective. Through the stealthy application of romantic fiction, I will change the world.

I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Do you?

And can you guess my magic phrase?


  1. "Butts UP!"

    "Bow, b!tches!"

    If it isn't one of those, you should really try them to see what happens.

  2. Great post Keri! You ARE a magician, you had me from the firt word of this post! Is your magic phrase "Once upon a time"?

  3. Not quite, Patrick--and given that I speak them in a Presbyterian church, I probably won't try it this week...but hey, another venue. Who knows?

    Christine--Thank you. Unfortunately,that's not it.

    Keep guessing folks!

  4. I don't have a guess, but I drive by that grocery store to and from work. It's like driving by a black hole. :>/

    Oh wait--how about, "Look! Money!"

  5. I agree. Words have power and energy. That power and energy goes out into the universe to shape our world. Nice post.

  6. Great post. Since your magic words are spoken in church, I'm thinking, "Praise God" or "Give thanks"

  7. Evey--Wow. I can't even imagine what it's like now. I used to hop between there and Fry's when Fry's had quadruple coupons.

    Thank you, Barbara!

    Janni--good guesses, but not the phrase...

  8. "Anyone, everyone" That would be my guess. And great post! :)

  9. “…the word was God.”

    from Bridgemama

  10. There is nothing I love so much as talking and thinking about language. Well, maybe a couple of things.

    I had to laugh about being understood when you ask for the butter to be passed, though.

    This is how it often works at my humble abode:

    The Prince: Is there any butter?

    Translation: I don't really care that you haven't sat down yet, but stop what you're doing and get me some because I cannot locate the refrigerator without GPS.

  11. Good guesses from Trina, Bridgemama. And Taryn--Gotta love the "Is there any...?" Do you just say, "Yes. Yes there is." ?

    Okay, I've revealed the answer because I got the best guess over on facebook at ...

  12. Great post! I am constantly awed by the power of words. :)

  13. Words are powerful -- and you've convinced me, Keri: In romance novels, that power is used for the good.

    Actually, I was already a believer. I think stories are magic. So yes, for more than the whole butts-in-air command, you are a magician :)

  14. Great post Keri. I particularly like the "stealthy application of romantic fiction" phrase. You so sneaky.

  15. If anyone can change the world with romantic fiction, you are the girl for the job! Your writing is always clever and entertaining, be it book or blog post. Keep up the good work! :)

  16. Thanks everyone. And it's...

    Downward Dog.

  17. Thoughtful post, Keri. Language is a magic all its own, I heartily agree.


    Downward Dog? Much tamer than what I was guessing. :)


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