Building a Fantasy World on an Historical Landscape by Marni L.B. Troop
Pure Fantasy writers have it easy. Make the landscape acceptable within most of the laws of physics and your readers will be happy. As a writer of Historical Fantasy, however, readers expect to recognize where they are even if the characters didn’t necessarily exist there. For “The Heart of Ireland” journals, which will encompass at least six volumes, I am bound by the geographical facts of Ireland… in case you want to go there to walk in the Faeries’ shoes.
I had to portray Ireland in “Journal One” as it was thousands of years ago when the Iberians (a.k.a the Celts) first arrived. In each book, as the centuries bring readers closer to the present, I must make the bogs dry up, the castles rise and the remnants of ancient civilizations fade away while maintaining the air of surrealism and magic that comes with the Fantasy genre.
You could argue that since nobody really remembers what Ireland was like eons ago, who cares? You wouldn’t say that to a Fantasy purist, would you? Of course not. Choosing to write Historical Fantasy means choosing to follow the rules of the genre. It’s a part of the challenge to create a fantastic world within a verifiably real one. The “fantasy” part of Historical Fantasy is how you shape your characters in light of the historical landscape, including its historical figures. Yes, many writers choose to alter aspects of historical figures to meet the interactive needs of the story, but never have I seen the actual landscape altered. That’s the allure of this sub-genre. You must know the land as well as you can before you put people on it and then weave the magic into the earth.
Marni grew up in a suburb of Washington, D.C., where she worked at and attended many sci-fi/fantasy conventions and bought several Tarot decks before going off to college. After college, she moved to Los Angeles to work as a story analyst, editor, ghostwriter and just about any film or television job she could find.
After earning a Master of Professional Writing in Cinema/TV-Drama from the University of Southern California, Marni started teaching others how to write. Marni currently lives in Glendale, Arizona, with her spouse, two brilliant children and six crazy pets (11 if you count the fish).
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Casey is a Faerie, but not in the way you might think. She’s not a little creature with wings or magic dust. If not for her tall, pointed ears, this regal princess could be mistaken for a human. She is gifted among her people in that she can see into anyone’s thoughts. She can remember every detail of every event that has occurred among the Faeries since her birth.
In "Journal One," Casey watches as the Faerie kings slaughter Ith, a stranger from across the sea and man of peace who believes the Faeries to be the gods of his people, the Iberians. Little do the kings know that when you kill an innocent, humans seek vengeance. Ith’s people come in great numbers to slaughter their “gods” and take Ireland as their new home. Caught in the middle, Casey tries to find a way to bring peace to the two peoples so they can live on the Island together. After things do not go as she plans, the humans prove victorious. At the moment the Faeries surrender the Island, she and her people are transformed into the magical creatures that inspire legend, and Ireland is changed forever.
You would think this to be enough drama for a young Faerie princess, but in the midst of it all she meets her one true love, an Iberian named Amergin. At the moment when all seems perfect between them, they are separated in the worst way possible – dangled right in front of each other but forever just out of reach.
Casey knows that the fate of her people and her love are inextricably linked. For the moment, all she can do is observe… and record everything she can. She has become the Chronicler: the one true historian of her entire race.
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I came upon the thirty Elders sitting quietly on blankets and looking at me with mixed feelings. Scanning them quickly, I knew that most thought fondly of me and wanted me to be happy. What was strange was that none of them were thinking about the ritual. In fact, several were completely closed off to me and the others were concerned about me. I did not have time to listen carefully to any one person’s thoughts because Eriu spoke quickly.
“The visions you have had, Casey. Are they prophecies?”
“No,” I said. “I do not have that power.”
“Then you should ignore them,” my mother said. “They cause you great distress for no reason.”
“But this is a real being I see,” I replied. I did not understand why they were dismissing my visions simply because they were not prophetic.
“You may feel as if the being you see is real, Casey,” said Oghma in his deep, soft voice, “but there is no evidence to suggest that any of us can see beyond the Island. Even Dagda himself has lost his bond with the Northern Islands.” Oghma was our scholar and keeper of the trees. His stature was lean and forgiving like the trunk of the Willow. His sense for seeing the new and important was as keen as his aim with the bow. For him to believe that my visions were imaginary meant that everyone else would think the same. The way he phrased his comment to me said something different. He wanted to believe… he wanted to find a new power among us.
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