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Monday, May 13, 2013

GUEST POST: Stepping Off the Map of the World by Charlotte E. English

Hello, you may remember me from the Drifting Isle Chronicles discussions in April. I've been asked to talk to you about some of my other books, and I thought I’d begin with my most popular series to date: the Draykon Series. These books consist of a blend of high fantasy and mystery, all set in an alternate world. It’s this alternate world that I’m going to talk about the most, as I think it’s the most distinctive feature of the books. 

When I say “alternate world”, I really mean it. A lot of fantasy books (including some of my own) create fantasy nations by basing them on real-world places, past or present. This approach has a lot to recommend it (not the least of them being that it’s easier to build a world this way). But I've always read fantasy fiction for escapism. I developed this taste years ago, at a time when it was imperative to get away from the real world as much as possible; and the stories I loved the best were the ones that made me feel as though I’d stepped off the map of the world altogether. As a child, one of my favourite stories was Alice in Wonderland; what could be better than a trip through a world where flowers and animals talk? 

It’s the sense of wonder that I love, the feeling that I've wandered so far from reality that anything could happen. But over the years, I could never find enough books that really satisfied my wishes. I wanted truly different alternate worlds, the crazier the better. So when I began working on Draykon—which went on to become my first completed novel—the very first thing I set about doing was building a truly crazy world. I was writing for the pure fun of it, so I simply took the restraints off my imagination and waited to see what happened.

The world I ended up with—or part of it—is called The Seven Realms, and those realms became progressively stranger as I went along. The result is a series of places where many of the natural laws of our own world don’t apply; perhaps the biggest alteration I made was in kicking out the traditional day/night cycle. Two of the Seven Realms are kept in perpetual daylight through the use of arcane magic; three are kept in permanent darkness; a sixth has a natural day-night cycle; and the seventh, Orlind, is a mystery entirely, for no one has seen it in many years. This of course means that some of my people have never seen the darkness, while some are wholly nocturnal. 

Linked to these realms—terra firma, if you like—are two other, much more nebulous areas (or planes of reality, we could say that instead). The Upper Realm, with its multiple suns, is always sun-drenched; the Lower Realm is always dark. These two places are changeable in ways that the Seven are not. Deeply unpredictable, they cycle through infinite variations. In the Lowers, you can be standing in a moonlit meadow one moment, and drowning in the ocean the next. In writing these, I was reminded of another set of books I used to love: Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, does anyone remember those? At the top of the mysterious Faraway Tree there was always a different land; you never knew what might roll around next. 

But unlike the lands at the top of the Tree, my Uppers and Lowers are not entirely impervious to influence. They can be changed, at least to a certain extent, and the uncovering of these particular mysteries is an important part of the story in Draykon. In fact, the series is full of mysteries: the mystery of a strange and mesmerizing new gem puts the Daylander Llandry Sanfaer into danger when she happens to stumble over it; the mysteries and dangers of the Lower Realm may be too much for Darklander Eva Glostrum, in spite of all her wit and wiles; and the mystery of the realm of Orlind must be solved, no matter how dangerous that long-vanished place may be. 

With so many mysteries and so many strange characters, events and places, the series is full of surprises. It’s hard to guess at what will happen on the next page, in a world where anything can happen. I went into invention overdrive when writing that first book, and created virtually everything anew; after all, why stick with apples and oranges, cats and dogs when I could have nara-fruit and rosuis blossoms, muumuks and olifers? This level of invention is hard on me as a writer, and a little hard on the reader, too—it stretches the imagination very thoroughly, and gives me a great deal to keep track of—but I think it is infinitely worth the extra effort. The world of Draykon is like nothing else, full of wonder and mystery, and I love every minute that I spend mucking about within it. 

At the moment the series stands at three books, and it is complete at that. But I am frequently asked for more stories, and I’d like nothing more myself than to spend another few months exploring the Seven Realms and seeing what happens next. I’ll be returning to the world later this year to write a follow-on series; there will be a new story and new characters, though many old friends and familiar faces will be making their appearances as well. There are dozens of mysteries still to be uncovered in my weird and crazy world, and I can’t wait to get started.

Order Black Mercury HERE
Order The Kaiser Affair HERE
Order The Machine God HERE
Read Melissa's Review of The Kaiser Affair
Read Qwill's Review of Black Mercury
Read FBC's Review of The Machine God
Read Drifting Isle Chronicles Multi-Author interview
Read The Drifting Isle Chronicles - A new way to tell new stories ( A guest post by Joseph R. Lewis)
Read When Collaborating, Say Yes! (A guest post by Meilin Miranda)
Read On Machines And Talking Birds (A guest post by Charlotte E. English)
Read The Kaiser Affair - A fantasy thriller and travelogue to The Drifting Isle Chronicles (A guest post by Joseph R. Lewis)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Born in the historic city of Lincoln, UK, Charlotte now lives in the heart of windmill country in the Netherlands. She has a degree in Heritage, and her interests include books, crafts, cooking and social history. She likes to write whimsical, colourful tales full of character and humour.

NOTE: Author picture, book covers and Draykon world map courtesy of the author herself.  


Farida Mestek said...

I'm so glad to hear that there will be a follow-up series! I love these books of yours and I think you managed to create a totally unique, intriguing, engaging and interesting world as well as people, animals and plants.


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