What fun! With November upon us, as the landscape turns a bit . . . bleak, and as it seems to give off somewhat “maudlin” vibes, we Quills have taken up the subject “PICTURE THIS!” Each of us will share a picture or two of something that represents a person, place, or thing, from one or more of our stories.
First up, is Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies. What have you got for us today, Robin?
Making up worlds is one of the best things about writing in the fantasy genre. It’s also hard work! There’s a lot of space for the fantasy author to let their imagination run wild, but we also need to tether our settings to a reality the average reader can relate to.
My short story, The High Roads, opens in the woods as night approaches . . .
Read more here.
P.S. Broads, author of A Hero's Curse, has some things to share with us. What say you, Parker?
Long have images stirred my imagination. I recall flipping through dusty old classics looking for illustrations. I would sit and stare at the The Chronicles of Narnia, or histories on Greek myth, entranced by the sketches within.
But images do more than keep me flipping through my tattered copy of Treasure Island--are what start the whole story for me. C.S. Lewis talked about the same. When discussing how he came to write the books of Narnia, he wrote that they “all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood.” My own storytelling is similar. I write from images in my head. For me it was the picture of a young blind girl standing in the desert, listening to a long awaited storm rolling in . . .
For more, click here.
Now, for my thoughts . . .
The Oathtaker Series is set in a medieval sort of time. Of course, as it is a fantasy, it does not correlate to any actual historical age in our world. Thus, as the author, I had the pleasure of making it exactly what I wanted to be. With a fantasy, the author chooses all of the details of that world in which the tale is set. So, that world is what the author says it is—nothing more, and nothing less. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to what technology might be available, how people dress, what they eat—or even, the language they use, or the way they speak. (Few of us could read the languages actually spoken in our world during the medieval period anyway, so why pretend to write in a manner exactly representative of those days?) Consequently, “medieval” is not an altogether apt description of Oosa, the land of the Oathtakers and Select.
I’ve decided to share pictures of a couple of buildings from my tales. While I, of course, cannot find an exact picture of any of them, here is a description of the wayfarers’ hut in which the twins, Reigna and Eden, are born, from the opening chapter of Oathtaker: The Oathtaker Series, Volume One:
"The wayfarers’ hut stood at a distance of about twenty long strides. Branches of the great oak in which she sat reached out and over the hut, which was old and nearly hidden among the surrounding brush and trees.
Something over ten-foot square and about as high, the building sported a dilapidated exterior. Its lower walls were made of mottled red-brown river rock packed together with clay from the nearby riverbed. Moss covered, it had begun to decay from a combination of age, weather, and neglect. Ivy surrounded the structure, holding to it tenaciously, as though it intentionally, maliciously, pursued the building’s demise.
The hut had no windows, only a small opening near the roof that served to allow smoke and heat an escape, and a single low door, rounded at the top, likely barred from the inside. Though wayfarers traditionally used such huts in days past, few of the cabins remained standing. This one had withstood the test of time—if only barely."
This picture is of something close to the hut. It is not of red-brown river rock, and is missing the rounded door, but it has the right “flavor.”
By contrast, the sanctuaries in Oathtaker, are grand buildings. Here, readers learn, the Select and their Oathtakers study, train, worship, and fellowship with one another. Here is the bit of a description from when Mara and Dixon are traveling to Polesk, when she gets her first glimpse of the city from a distance:
"Mara looked out at the largest city she’d ever seen. People on horseback and traveling in carriages moved through, giving life to the surroundings like blood through arteries. Houses at the fringes sported small vegetable gardens where scratching chickens milled about. Farther in were larger buildings. Each seemed to rise higher than the one before, as though in a silent contest to determine which was the tallest. In the city’s center stood the largest and highest of them all.
'Sanctuary,' he said, following her gaze and answering her unasked question.
'It’s huge!' Even from this distance, she could make out its grounds, like a park in the midst of which, sanctuary stood like a beacon to all who sought refuge from worldly cares. Made of white brick, it sported a towering spire that rose up, and up, and up into the air."
Of course, the picture shows a cross at the top of the steeple, which would not be there, but the picture also shows something of a round globe which would be correct. In any case, again, you get the idea!
It would be fun to see what you pictured when you read these portions. Please, do share with me!
Stay tuned for our next Quills post!