Medieval doors, Scowles, Badgers and Nero

Anne C. Miles > Writing > Medieval doors, Scowles, Badgers and Nero

So occasionally I hit snags in writing. I won’t know how to describe things. It’s a fantasy world. I can do what I want. But what I want is to remain mostly consistent on the level of tech. This world doesn’t have tech because it has magic. It never needed it. But then the magic got dangerous to use and they did have to rebuild civilization. I sort of ended up with 14th century tech.

I know Western culture is regarded as imperialist and evil, but I quite like it. So I stayed in my comfortable classic fantasy box. I am writing what I want. If you want to roll your eyes just reading this, then you’re probably way too sophisticated to enjoy my work.

But for the rest of you, I ended up studying medieval doors, scowles, badgers and Nero this weekend. It’s very difficult to write about a prison cell when you aren’t sure how the locks work, it turns out. I wasn’t sure that Elder Scrolls: Oblivion was an entirely reliable source. The small window cut in a door that you could open in order to speak with someone was oddly enough, called a speakeasy. I ended up bolting the darn thing in frustration because Google doesn’t actually want to help me find answers anymore, it just wants to sell me things.

Scowles are interesting. I read about karsts when I was building my aeries. Scowles are sort of “karsts-lite.” Every fantastical thing should be based on something real, in my view. So scowles are these formations of rock that occur in the Forest of Dean in Britain. They make the forest seem magical because there are crazy rocks and ivy and moss. This is where Tolkien went hiking and Rowling lived for a while. Endor was filmed here. My entire Middegrove looks like the Forest of Dean, basically. The Heyegrove is all redwood, humungous.

Then of course the wildlife had to be reasonable. Jax ends up talking to the animals a lot. I particularly needed a digger. Badgers fit the bill and what lovely creatures they are. The list of fictional badgers is long and distinguished.

Finally, I’m still working out how Darmon, Siles and Dorric (my bad guys) all relate and interact. I need to understand their motivations, what makes them tick. Darmon is pretty much like Nero, minus the sex scenes with mom, because no, we aren’t going there. But yes, he is that icky. But working out how to get that level of revulsion across without descending into the morass of graphic scenery is a challenge.

Dorric is a thorn in my side. I think he is well and truly evil in the worst sense. Siles definitely is. But Dorric makes you want to trust him and like him, hope he isn’t awful, sympathize and then he just breaks your heart. He vexes me. I’d really like my writing to not be complex. I’m okay with black and white. I’m lazy and it’s easier. He won’t let me do that, damn him. Oh well.

Anyhow, my 50th chapter is done and Sara finally is stuck in Canard. It only took me 100,000+ words to get her there, likely because I care about door locks. But that’s ok. I can see the home stretch now, that’s what is important. Book two should be much easier to write.

Do you do stupid amounts of research? What crazy thing are you looking up lately?

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