Sometimes I despair a little at how infrequent I post on my blog. I know it’s about once a week, and I know it’s been fairly consistent since I started (well, since I started the WordPress incarnation, anyway). I don’t want to change expectations. But I also want to post real quality, too.
At the moment, my writing time is devoted to my current Work In Progress. Without going into too much detail, I am in a bit of a world-building phase. It was at first a fairly typical Western European setting with a little light magic to make it more fantastic. This was all well and good, and a short story in that world not only came together rather well, but offered many little hints and hooks to expand the story and world much much further. So I set out to do both of those.
I’ve known for a long time that fantasy authors tend to like much relatively simple worlds. Worlds where the societies are reasonably homogenous and border lines respected. I prefer my writing to be closer to reality. I’d done world-building before and have copious other documents about imagined worlds and races. Naturally, all pretty much fell into that same trap.
Well, not this time!
I have recently read The Wrong Messiah by Nick Page. This book tells the life story of Jesus of Nazareth from a modern story-telling point-of-view. Regardless of you may think about Jesus, Page goes into some detail about the political climate and various other social and historical factors often relegated to theologians – all the types of things you would expect to see in a modern novel.
Now I’m not attempting to re-write the story of Jesus. I don’t want to do that. Rather, what was interesting was actually how racially and socially diverse Palestine was at that time. There weren’t just Jews: there were at least two different types of Jews (Judean and Galileen), Samaritans, Idumeans, Syrians, Tyrians, Cypriots, Greeks, Armenians and many many others. Because one thing the Roman Empire did not do was assimilate the subject peoples.
To me, this sounded like a wonderful piece of inspiration for my world-building. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I reckon I might have a third of the races and peoples I need…