My niece turns 20 today. I’m not sure what space time warp continuum breach accounts for that since I’m pretty sure she is still nine, but, advanced mathematics and all aside, somehow she grew up. She’s more like a little sister than a niece, because I lived with her and her mom for years after she was born.

Muffinhead, for that is what I called her, is an inspiration to me. She decided she wanted to be a pastry chef so she up and moved to a different state to learn to bake. And then she wanted to see if she could make it in New York City, so she up and moved with to the city with a pocket full of change and a suitcase full of hope. She said she gave herself three months to see if she could make it, and if she couldn’t then she would try something else. Within a few months she was a baker at a restaurant owned by a very famous chef (think orange crocs.) So now she wanders around NYC baking fabulous food and doing fabulous things — she’s joined a quidditch team, participated in a flash mob, goes to museums on her day off, and during the huge blizzard slid down the front staircase of her building to get to the street so she could get to work. She said it was like being Legolas skiing down the stairs at Helm’s Deep. And then, once it had stopped snowing, she hiked out to the statue of Balto in Central Park to take a picture with it in the snow because she loved that story as a child.  She decided she was going to turn her bedroom into a steampunk airship, so she went to Home Depot, walked up to the oldest guy in an orange apron she could find and said, “This is what I want to do. How do I do it?” She now sleeps in a hammock, with maps on the walls to pick where she wants to go. She is always going to be that person — the person who sets off on whatever journey she has chosen. She calls her bedroom the H.L.S. Invictus after the poem by William Ernest Henley — I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

She completely is.

Watching her growing up is like reading a fairy tale.  She’s the charmed princess — a paperbag princess maybe – one who rescues her own self and would never slay a dragon because dragons are cool. She is much more likely to befriend one. She is the fantasy character I wish I could be. It’s great watching her story unfold. I can’t wait to see what epic quest line she is going to follow next.

So, dear readers — Muffinhead included — if you could be a character, either from real life or from a fantasy book, who would you want to be? I’ll randomly pick one commenter to win a book of their choice from our stacks.


  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

    View all posts