The rocks at Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island, Wisconsin, are so smooth they feel almost soft. The unique silky texture makes the rocks precious; you’d get a $200 fine for removing one! On a chilly day, visitors built rock stacks with these smooth, flat stones well-loved by the waves, instead of swimming. This stack was ours.
I worked hard in post to get separation of color in the individual rocks. Plus doesn’t that swirl of cloud at the top look a bit like an eye? Look out for the VFD.
I live in Wisconsin, in one of the many small towns that ring Madison by about ten miles. I figure it’s the distance a horse could ride in a day and that’s why all these towns sprung up, like a fairy ring of mushrooms. In my book, The Flight of The Starling, one of the two fairies is named Beloit. Beloit and his sister meet Princess Lily and convince her Prince Alexander is a horrible guy who likes to cut wings off fairies who annoy him, which makes the princess determined to rescue them.
Beloit, Wisconsin, is about an hour away from my house. I drive past it to visit my friends in Chicago. I’ve never spent any time there. I’ve never had any reason to.
So why is an important character in my novel named Beloit?
Simple: Frank Zappa. And my mother.
I grew up in the Midwest, and once on a road trip to Wisconsin, my mom recalled a funny quote when we passed Beloit. It wasn’t till years later that I learned it was something Zappa said in a concert in Wisconsin: “I can never hear the name ‘Beloit’ without thinking of the sound of a marble being dropped into a toilet bowl. Beloit!”
I’m probably butchering the quote, and I could not find an
official reference to it. But my brother and I were in grade school at the time
and we knew comedy gold when we heard it. A family running joke was born. We
could never hear of Beloit without saying this, and sometimes we would just
intone the word – low on the “bell” with a long L, a lilt and emphasis on the
“oi” – and bust out laughing.
I don’t know why my brain picked Beloit as the name for a fairy. Marzipan’s name came first – a light and crunchy confection somewhere between candy and cookie. She’s Beloit’s sister, the other fairy in the fairy tale, and she is distinctly more salty than sweet. But she means well and would never try to hurt anyone with her mischief. Beloit is less practical than Marzipan, more silly, but together they make a perfect pair of pixies, finishing each other’s sentences and schemes.
“Marzipan and Beloit” had a nice ring to it. I was definitely thinking of the marble in the toilet bowl when I named him. To me, Beloit will always be funny. The horse’s name, Milwaukee, was just a continuation of the joke. I don’t know why but I thought the random Wisconsin references got funnier the more I did it.
When I wrote The Flight of The Starling, I lived in Montana. I had no thought of moving closer to Beloit. Now that I am a Wisconsinite, I have to say, I think naming a fairy Beloit is even funnier than it was when I wrote it. I apologize to any Beloitites (Beloiters? Beloitians?) who don’t agree, or who think the splooshing onomatopoeia is an insult. What can I say, I was a child, and it stuck in my head. You’ll have to take it up with Frank Zappa.
What would you name a fairy and why? Leave me a comment.
All the best,
The Flight of The Starling, A Fairy Tale, is available for pre-order on Amazon and IngramSpark now, for release on November 1.