Saturday, April 20, 2013

History Empowering Fantasy


I love to read historical fantasy and am always on the lookout for a good read. Whether it’s a story about knights vs. zombies, Romans vs. Celts with mystical powers, or werewolves in the age of Charlemagne, there are ways to weave ancient beliefs into historical fiction while remaining accurate.

But what about the flip side?

I really enjoy fantasy too and am in constant awe of the world-building skills of fantasy writers.

If you are a fantasy reader like me, you will no doubt have noticed that a lot of historical elements creep in to inform those worlds. However, for it to be done right, and with skill, is no small task.

One book I have been reading of late is Lunula, by author, Alyssa Auch. Lunula has won two titles as part of the Blogger Book Fair Readers’ Choice Awards, and last month was named a winner by IndieBookoftheDay.com. I can see why. I’m really enjoying the book and have been really drawn into the world of Lunula.

I’m thrilled to have Alyssa as a guest today on Writing the Past to talk about how she has woven elements from many historical periods into her wonderful novel.

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Thank you, Adam, for inviting me to guest post on your blog! I am no historian, but I cannot deny that I love to incorporate it into my writing, even when it is in a fantasy world!

Lunula was written in the fictional setting of Irador, a medieval style kingdom with much of Fantasy’s well-loved elements added to it. It is one of three kingdoms featured, and each of the kingdoms had their own historical “flavor” you could say. For Irador, I channeled Camelot and bits of Renaissance England. My mother read one of my first drafts, and she mentioned that she felt she was reading a historical piece at first—I definitely took that as a compliment.

But I wanted to branch out from just the usual medieval style fantasy, and so I added some of my favorite pieces of history to the other two kingdoms. Dristol, the “barbaric,” untamed brother kingdom to Irador was (very loosely) modeled after the Vikings. The soldiers are large and intimidating, wearing fur vests and carrying two-handed weapons with ease. They exude a kind of harshness I hoped would represent that culture. However, the politics of their land were taken from Britain’s tumultuous early history. Gethin, the king of that land, alludes to how difficult it has been for him to keep their lords in check. They raid their neighboring lands, and they often refuse to acknowledge the crown of Dristol. 
Much of Gethin’s young adulthood was spent putting unruly land owners back into place.

 And finally, the elven lands, which were the most distinct of the two. I mashed Greek and Roman history together to create a polished and refined, but ancient world. Makynae, the capitol of the elven realm, is the name of an ancient city in Greece (called Mycenae). Their dress was taken from the late B.C. era, around 180 or so, with loosely draped cloth, pallas for the women, and soft-soled sandals. I admit that I looked to the movie “Gladiator” for visual inspiration. Their city is built with marble columns and arches from that time period’s architecture, and they appear to have made several advancements over their human neighbors. Aqueducts and running water, for example. I’ll never understand why they let that advancement slip away from them after Rome was destroyed!

Lunula is actually a Roman necklace. In my book it is a magical artifact, but historically, the lunula was worn by young, unmarried girls. It symbolized their youth, and once they married, it was taken off. It was usually a crescent-shaped locket, and that is exactly how I described the lunula in my book.

The main thing I strove for in weaving history into fantasy was giving my book a feel of authenticity. I believe it makes it more tangible to the reader when they recognize time periods and places, and in a world where anything goes, that kind of tether can be crucial.

So on that note, I hope you give Lunula a try, and find that the little tidbits of history make it all the more enjoyable!

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I’d like to thank Alyssa for taking the time out of her unbelievably busy schedule to tell us a bit about how history inspired aspects of her work.

Alyssa’s writing style is smooth and beautiful and will draw you in. So, if you like fantasy and history, you should definitely check out Lunula.

It’s available from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

You should also check out Alyssa’s author blog and Facebook page.

Find her on Twitter @alyssa_auch

Cheers and Read on!


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