A Drift of Quills is bringing you their worlds—in brilliant technicolor! “Picture This” this is a recurring subject with the Quills. Why? Because it’s so darned fun! We love sharing our worlds with you, giving you a peek behind the scenes. Take a look at some of our favorites…
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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…
Shifting shadows beneath the giant greenwood trees gave the forest an eerie appearance. Dense strands of mist from the sea intensified a sense of the ethereal. Telic Ruan waited against a tree trunk, gazing up at the branches that hung some hundred feet above his head. He refused to let the capricious ghosts of the coming night intimidate him.
That picture, that description, sets up the entire story. Well, duh, right? That’s what it’s supposed to do!
Right, but the trees and the fog are symbolic! So are the ghosts. Those four sentences lay out Telic’s problem—and his problem with the problem.
He thinks his problem is the Luzzil Ones, a race of inferior but sentient creatures who live in caves.
“Not slaves — useful and productive members of society. Can’t you see that’s the best thing for them? They can’t organize themselves in any practical way. They can’t even take care of their own! You’ve been to their villages — if you can call them that. They don’t even know how to build! They live in caves full of filth and disease. All we want to do is help them lead productive, healthy lives.”
He doesn’t understand the real problem…
Have you read The High Roads? How do you picture the setting? The characters? Send me your pictures!!
(If you haven’t read the story, you can get a copy for the price of joining my email list. The link is in the sidebar! It’s also available on Amazon.)
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.
Long have images stirred my imagination. I recall flipping through dusty old classics looking for illustrations. I would sit and stare at 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–pictures 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… (What will this lead to?)
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Many authors have “setting boards” on Pinterest. Do you follow any? Which are your favorites?
Welcome to another edition of A Drift of Quills, bringing you fact, fantasy, and… a brand new team member!
When we had Parker—who publishes as P.S. Broaddus—as a guest a few months ago, we talked about Tackling Writing Challenges. We liked his style and his wonderful sense of humor so much that we hunted him down and trapped him in a dark corner invited him to join us as a full-time team member. Much to our surprise delight, he agreed!
By way of introduction, P.S. (Parker) has kindly agreed to be the subject of a mini-view: one question from each of us. (Is it cheating that they’re multiple-part questions?)
And, just as I suspected from the telltale gleam in his eye, he’s another pea in the pod. Er… writer in the ream! Hack in the stack?
Okay, before I get carried away and start doing Dr. Seuss impressions, let’s hear from Parker!
Robin: What is your most recent published work? Do you have a favorite character from it? If so, who, and why?
Parker: My most recent published work is my debut novel A Hero’s Curse, book one of the Unseen Chronicles. It was published this past Christmas, with the audiobook having launched last month, over the 4th of July. A Hero’s Curse follows the adventures of Essie Brightsday, a young blind girl, as she attempts to find her kingdom’s lost king. The nature and structure of A Hero’s Curse pushed Essie and Tig, her sarcastic talking cat to the forefront of the story. They get the most screentime. Essie is a fascinatingly complex young lady, and Tig’s dry, sarcastic humor is so akin to my own I can’t help but like him. But there are several characters who I really enjoy. Illiana, the cheerful and bubbly friend Essie makes in the Kingdom Above the Sun is unbreakable. She is a glass-half-full type character and she always makes me smile. King Mactogonii and Queen Leonatrix are interesting and powerful characters with tangled histories. I can’t help but want to know more about their past and their future.
I am working hard on book two in the Unseen Chronicles, with high hopes for another Christmas release. The structure of book two is completely different from A Hero’s Curse. Rather than a quest or journey structure, the story is a mystery, set in one city. There isn’t a lot of travelling and there are a ton of characters! Here’s my favorite part. Many of the characters I loved so much from A Hero’s Curse are back, but this time we get to see them developed in a way we didn’t get to in book one.
Robin:Secret? “Dry, sarcastic humor” is a prerequisite for becoming an official Quill! Scroll down to find links to Parker’s website and book—But don’t miss his answer to The Next Important Question!
This is a particularly exciting time, as we Quills just added a new member, Parker Broaddus, who publishes under the name, P.S. Broaddus. And wouldn’t you know it? Parker, like Robin, is blessed with an incredible sense of humor. (Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit like chopped liver . . .)
In celebration of Parker’s joining us, we’ve decided we would interview him. Here are his initial comments. (Did I mention that he has a sense of humor?):
Patricia: What are your earliest memories of reading as a child? Did you visit a library regularly? A book mobile? How did that impact your life as a reader and/or writer?
A Drift of Quills is back on this beautiful First Friday! This month we’re talking about tough writing challenges we’ve faced, and how we’ve resolved them. And—we’ve got a guest! We’re so pleased to welcome P.S. Broaddus, who has recently released his debut middle-grade fantasy novel.
My partners in this month’s endeavor will probably not be glad that I’ve procrastinated writing this until the last minute (I have a laundry list of excuses reasons!), but it’s given me the opportunity to get a sneak peak at what they’ve chosen to write about.