Today I would like to welcome Jan Hawke. She is the newest Spotlight Author and is gracing my site with her presence. I cannot think of a more supportive person to receive this honor. And now Jan take it away!!
Turning words into worlds
For fantasy writers, words are ultra-important as you need to use them carefully to ‘paint’ a world that may be totally different in form and function than planet Earth. World-building is the usual term for this process, but there are many aspects you need to take into account, as you put on the shades and hues of your brave new world.
For my author heroes, Tolkien and Pratchett, maps of where their action was taking place were essential in picturing how landscapes looked, and even the cultural demands of the people encountered. Pratchett’s Discworld is the most extreme example of needing a firm hand with geography and astral-physics, and even the seasons, on a ‘flat’ world that is held up by four gigantic elephants, standing atop a Star Turtle. He got the idea from Hindu mythology of course, but it illustrates the point that a good map, or at the very least, a vague visual, works wonders when it comes to describing fantasy terrains.
One of the physical consequences of having your world disc-shaped are very specific climate specifications. The central point or hub of the disc revolves much more slowly than the rim, and so Pratchett has his single pole as a very cold place where the gods reside on a spectacular, 30 mile high mountain named Cori Celesti, in a large mansion named ‘Dunmanifestin’. On Discworld the gods are numerous and testy and often appear on various parts of the disc. Broadcasting your atheism is pointless, particularly in high places prone to lightning strikes, whilst wearing metal body armour…
Tolkien on the other hand, although originally opting for a flat Middle Earth, eventually decided to go global because his tales were based on an alternative reality of good old planet Earth. This supported the ‘marring’ of Arda, with the deified Ainur whisking the chosen Elves out of Middle Earth and into the West, where the mortal races could not follow.
My new fantasy series, Tomes of the HavenLands, will take place literally at the other end of our Milky Way galaxy (in both time and position), so I’m sticking with a practical globular model, but it’s a younger, colder climate world, although it has arid areas, much like the Gobi Desert. For the opening book, the action will take place in the largest central land mass to the north and, because there are links to Old Earth, the points of the compass remain the same to avoid too much tinkering with people’s preconceptions. Culturally however, there is a strong archaic Latin and ancient Celtic connection for linguistics, that provides the hook for place names and the lifestyle of the mainly human sentient population. Having this visual (there’s also a topographical version as well) helps me out a lot with how my characters move about in different landscapes, depending on their respective clan’s territories. And I know roughly what my new world looks like, so I can mould the people and fauna that live there accordingly, with just enough logic to know when I need to introduce some magic into the equation – like dragons living only in the volcanic eastern island chain, for the time being at least…
As a member of Rave Reviews Book Club I get the opportunity to host guest like Jan Hawke on my blog. This give us double exposure…a Pay It Forward Affect. We learn to propel, support and promote each other and support is equally rewarded. If you want a little spotlight or want to market your work head on over to the “Join/Renew” tab and sign up. Just tell them that reading this post or viewing her entire tour was the motivating factor.