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!
It’s October. The leaves are falling, the air is turning cooler by the day, and it is time for we Quills to post for the month. This time around, we’ve decided that we’d each choose a single author with whom we’d like to sit down to have lunch—and why.
P. S. Broaddus (aka Parker), author of A Hero's Curse, you're up first!
During a recent interview, I mentioned my favorite storytellers, and I even had to decide which author I’d want as company in a submarine.
This go around, it’s lunch with an author from the past. Over hamburgers we’d talk about habits and describe growing up. We’d finish off with a milkshake and chat about what informed their writing.
It’s a heavy decision, obviously. I mean, you have to agree on where to eat. My pick may surprise you, but I think you’ll follow my reasoning . . .
Read more here.
Next up, is Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies. What do you think, Robin?
Choosing a single author to sit down and have a chat with is as bad as choosing your favorite book! Or color! Or child! There is a spectacular list to choose from, and stalking up and down between my bookshelves left me dizzy with indecision.
If I were to choose someone from the past, what kind of language and societal hurdles would we face when we tried to communicate? That’d be a whole conversation right there, but let’s assume we’ve been endowed with translation devices so we’ll both be on the same page (pun alert!). In that case…
Read more here.
Is it my turn now? Is it really my turn now? Yes! So . . . here goes!
This might be the most difficult question presented yet! There are so many logistics to consider. If I choose someone no longer living, just how would the two of us arrange this lunch? Where would we meet? On this side of the divide? Or the other? (Oh, imagine!) If I choose someone whose native language is neither English nor Sarcasm (which is to say, not one I speak), how will we understand one another? Use some instant translation program? (Oh, I can see the problems arising from that already!)
Even assuming all the “how and where” details can be arranged, I have to consider whether I’d rather have lunch with a famous historical figure/politician who also happened to have a gift for words (Abraham Lincoln? Ronald Reagan? (Whatever your politics, you cannot read or hear him without recognizing his gift for communicating!)), or if I’d like to have a few laughs (Mark Twain?), or if I might like to discuss how that author’s writings fit into the then-current social order (Victor Hugo?), or if I’d like to get a close-up look at a place that has long intrigued me (Fyodor Dostoyevsky? Leo Tolstoy? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn?)
In the end, I’ve decided to go with Charles Dickens because—well, because he’s both serious and funny, and because his stories touched on social issues that he exercised considerable influence over, ultimately leading to societal changes on both sides of the big pond.
I can see it now. Charles and I would sit at a table laden with roast goose, gravy, plum pudding (what is that, anyway?), and Gin Punch—or perhaps, a Smoking Bishop (“Say, what?” you ask? I confess, I have no idea.), and we’d delve into the issues.
In the end, I suspect I’d find myself saying: “Please, sir, I want some more.”
How about you? With whom would you choose to lunch?