A book gathers momentum in a writer’s head over a number of years.
Research you do, real life stories you read, music your hear, documentaries you see and images you come across all resonate. Before long characters come to life, you see them in dangerous situations and you worry about them when you should be sleeping at night. All this builds up until it reaches critical point, and you just have to start writing.
I have a background as an illustrator, so I tend to think visually. Not that music doesn’t move me. Music goes straight to the emotion-laden hind brain and stirs us more directly than words can. (Most of my writing friends seem to be more music oriented than visual. I only know a couple who are visual oriented).
When I write I gather a Resonance File with images to feed my visual need. If I’m writing a book set in winter like KRK, I’ll set my computer desk top to a snowy scene. If I’m writing a midsummer book, I’ll set the screen to an appropriate visual.
So here are some visuals I’ve gathered that help give ‘Resonance’ to King Rolen’s Kin. (When Solaris asked me about covers, I was able to pull together a Resonance File for Clint Langley to give him a feel for the world).
I live in subtropical southern Queensland, Australia. So snow is exotic for me. How the winter countryside looks in different light fascinates me. This kind of cold shapes behaviour of the inhabitants (just as balmy days encourages long weekends where I live).
I wanted the strongholds to be different from your basic Norman castle so I looked to Russia for inspiration. (I do a lot of research into different societies and how they have evolved). I liked the idea of towers and domes and richly decorated interiors, in contrast to the austerity of a winter countryside.
When I was reading about old Russia there was a photo of a wooden house that had been built completely without nails, every joint dovetailed.I liked that love of working in wood so I incorporated it into the homes of the ordinary folk in Rolencia.
There are also the things that happen in real life, that influence your writing. I’ve blogged about this but I’m going to insert it here, too.
Some things stay with you. When I was about 10 my family went to play tennis at a set of courts in the back blocks of the Gold Coast. This was in the days when the holiday strip was not as gaudy and glitzy as it is now. My parents loved to play tennis and they told me to watch my little brothers, 8 and 5 and my sister 3. Behind the courts was a stretch of land backing onto a creek. There were white sand dunes, scrubby trees and it was the perfect place for us to play (in those far off days when kids ran wild most of the time).
As the eldest I was used to organising the games and I always saw myself as a sort of hero character so we’d play these long involved games with my younger siblings as my army, following orders, fighting great battles against enemy foes.
While running down one high white sand hill through the hollow and up the next we left my little sister behind. Halfway up the dune I turned around to find she’d run through the deepest part of the hollow and the sand, which appeared to be solid, had given way. She was knee deep in some sort of sticky sand-clay mix and couldn’t get out. Having seen plenty of Tarzan movies, I immediately thought of quicksand.
A real emergency! I told my brothers to stay back, afraid that they’d get trapped too, and edged forward. The sand’s surface broke up under my feet. It was cold and smooth and wet, and I didn’t know what was under there. My eight year-old brother came and took my arm to pull me out if I got stuck. I managed to grab our little sister’s arm and hauled her out of the sticky sand-clay which did not give her up easily. Meanwhile, my five year-old brother danced on the edge of the danger zone desperate to help and likely to get himself into trouble.
End of story, she was fine and we kept on playing. I don’t think we even told our parents about it, because by the time they finished playing tennis our game had moved on and that was old news. But I will always remember that sense of something under the ground opening up and proving dangerous.
In King Rolen’s Kin power seeps up from the land’s heart, infecting people and animals. Only those trained to contain this power go near Affinity Seeps. Now you see how a childhood adventure can be the inspiration for something in a story many years later.
(These days I don’t order my younger brothers and sister about to play out my great battles, I have a cast of characters and they play out the battles in my books).