The Sights of Mercoria, Elbra, and Agrius
As I am finishing up a lot of last minute copy edits and some small content edits leading up to the upcoming release of The King’s Daughter on September 1, I am also cleaning out some of my computer files. As I do so, I am finding some of the early material I used as I was developing the two books. I admit that most of the scenes, people, and items I write about are conjured up primarily from my imagination. That being said, I do sometimes use photos to provide initial inspiration for some of these scenes, places, and people, at least as a starting point. Some of the places and people stick pretty closely to the original in the end, but others evolve and become something quite different by the time I am done writing them. I thought readers might find some of these images really interesting! I’d love to know if any of them match the pictures you drew in your head as you read!
(I apologize for not having location cites for where I found most of these photos. I had intended them to be used only for personal research so didn’t save any credits for where I found most of them. Please feel free to contact me if you know the locations or sources for any of these photos if I have not already listed them.)
Mercoria and Elbra
(The Scribe’s Daughter)
This map is the original hand-drawn map I created to imagine the world in The Scribe’s Daughter. While I never provided a map in the book (my technical skills to do so were severely limited at the time of publication… my apologies!), this is the map I used as I wrote. Believe it or not, the outlines come directly from a map of our earth. I simply took a flat world map and turned it upside-down, taping it against the picture window in my living room, then tracing various coastlines as I found them doing interesting things. Eventually I digitized the map and added more features and place names. These are the resulting maps:
Ildor Veris. Honestly, I’m not sure there is a better villain, and none played so well to embody this character, than Tywin Lannister from The Game of Thrones as played by Charles Dance. I read the first four books of the series but then couldn’t quite handle the meandering plot and ever-growing character list so didn’t read any more. I also watched the first couple of seasons of the HBO show then had to stop. HBO did what they do best (I’ll just say brothel scenes and leave it at that) and I couldn’t handle it anymore. Even so, this guy right here (points wildly at the photo of Mr. Lannister) left his mark on me from a creative perspective, and I couldn’t resist using him as a model.
The town of Lynchport was an original creation, but as I was developing the location in my mind, I did look for photos to help me finalize the images I had already begun to create. This photo is probably the best one I could find to solidify the images already taking shape in my brain. I really have no idea any more where this is, so if anyone else knows, I’d love to hear!
This photo definitely came before I developed the swamp settlement of Porpio á Fen, but I can’t remember precisely how I came across it. Likely its discovery was merely the result of an internet search of native settlements, and I was intrigued by this exact photo, the Kincaid Mounds in Massac County, Illinois. I don’t know anything about the people who created these mounds in the 11th to 15th centuries, but the idea of building on mounds definitely sent my mind off on the course that created the Swamp People.
This image from Penshurt Place in Tonbridge, Kent, 32 miles south east of London, England inspired the image I conjured of Serdar Janko Barbaros’ hall in Elbra.
(The King’s Daughter)
So as not to accidentally provide spoilers for a book which isn’t released yet, I won’t provide any explanations like I did above, beyond the captions of course. Enjoy!
And finally, since Casmir appeared in the first book, I’ll provide a little explanation of this photo. I never used a photo inspiration for either Kassia or Irisa. Since the books are written in first person, all the action takes place “behind the eyes” of each of these young ladies. For that reason, the “camera” of the story never shows us their faces. I had to imagine basic physical attributes for each of them, but I never needed a photograph in my mind’s eye. It might sound strange to hear that I really don’t know what Kassia or Irisa look like, but it’s true! Most of my other characters (besides Ildor Veris as explained above) don’t have exact images in my mind either. Jack didn’t, for instance. But Casmir. He is a different story, and I have no explanation for why. I developed a certain set of physical descriptions of Casmir as I began to write him, just like all my other characters. But for some reason I went looking for an actor that might embody the features I was creating. It was through this search I came up with actor Lee Jones. I had never heard of him before finding his photo, but for anyone who may have seen the 2015 FX show The Bastard Executioner, Jones played Wilkin Brattle, the main character.
Casmir doesn’t have much of a visible role in The Scribe’s Daughter. Most of what we learn about him in that book is hearsay, so this image of him didn’t really take shape for me until I began writing The King’s Daughter. Once I found this photo early on, it drove every scene involving Casmir as the book progressed. Readers like to ask “If a movie were made of your book, who would you cast for your characters?” Would I cast Lee Jones as Casmir? Well, I have never seen him act. (Mr. Jones, if you are reading this, I’m sure you’d put in an Oscar award-winning performance, no doubt, and I’m perfectly willing to give you a shot.) Who would I cast as Irisa? I’m open to suggestions. Any ideas?
Maybe sometime in the future I’ll do a post about the music of The Scribe’s Daughter and The King’s Daughter. We’ll see!