A reviewer questioned why I chose to put the Rogue Mage universe, the alterniverse of the Enclaves, in an ice-age instead of in a hot-house of global warming. To me it was so obvious that I thought it was a trick. I mean, why would I put a story about angels and demons in a place that is exactly like our world today? But then I realized that there were lots of answers to the reviewer’s question hovering around in my brain, so I thought I’d toss a few ideas out, things relating to the question of the ice-age in the Enclave world, and things about why a writer chooses the world he/she does.
First, I was trying to get as far away from the *reality* of our world as I could get. Cold and ice, glaciers, mountainous hellholes full of demons seemed to work. As the world grew on paper, so did my feelings abut the characters, the hardships they faced, etc. The setting became almost a character itself, evolving and affecting the storyline and adding conflict as much as the actions of a character did.
Second it was winter when I started this conceptual journey. We were not too far distant from a 22 inch snowfall, the deepest ever recorded in our area. Reality can drive a writer’s thoughts. Duh.
Third, there are great sites online about ice-ages. This one is pretty cool. (Pardon the pun.) http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/ice_ages/why_4_cool_periods.html
As to why a writer chooses the climate, cityscape, time period, urban, sea, or forest settings we do? Well, a lot of it is the simple thing I thought about when the reviewer asked the question in her critique. I think it has a lot to do with what we want out of the book we are writing, the logical part of the answer to the question. It’s hard to do a highly sexually charged book set in a cold place, but easy to do it on a hot seashore. Hard to write an epic about magic set in modern times. Impossible to set pirate book in a desert. (Sorry Misty. I couldn’t resist.)
But a lot of the reasons are deeper, more from the subconscious. I am now writing a book about a shape changer—a skinshifter or skinwalker—and set it in New Orleans, in a world similar to ours but with witches and vampires and other things that do magic and go bump in the night. And that city, of course, is where the concept of modern urban fantasy originated, at least in my opinion. Anne Rice and her Interview With a Vampire. OMG! I was a kid when it came out, I guess. And even then I *very* seldom would reread a book. But I guess I read that novel three or four times. It hit me on a level that brought my must to life as much as lightning did Frankenstein. It was part of what drove me to write.
I wasn’t thinking about that when I chose the city, not logically, anyway. But New Orleans has always called to me, the scents, tastes (food,) sounds, textures of that place. I love it. And when I set Jane Yellowrock in that city, in the French Quarter, the rest just seemed to fall into place.
So. Maybe our other writers (David, Misty, Catie, and all you other guys and gals out there) will share how your alterniverse(s) affect you and your writing.Faith Hunter