Guest blogger: Rowena Cory Daniells
Writers and inspiration
I’ve always been fascinated by creativity (see my post on vivid dreamers and creativity).
From interviewing writers I’ve discovered about 75% are aural. These writers make up music play lists for specific books, or play a single piece of music or album over and over to get themselves into the right mind-space to write their current book.
I belong to the 25% who are visual. I have a background as an illustrator. Going to the art gallery for me is the equivalent of a feast. I come out feeling like I’m floating on air.
When I write a book, I collect visuals that come with all sorts of associations drawn from my research into history and art. I’ve been working on The Outcast Chronicles for ten years now, gradually gathering images for my resonance file to help me visualise the world and the people. I write fantasy so there’s a lot of world building.
The story arose from the question: what would happen if people with gifts (the mystics) lived among us? Would ordinary people (True-men and women) fear and distrust people with powers?
And then I took this further: what would happen if the mystics’ powers were expressed differently in men and women?
In The Outcast Chronicles the mystic males and females crave each other’s power, but they also fear each other because they have to drop their defences to make love and this makes them vulnerable. For their own protection they divide into brotherhoods and sisterhoods. The females’ gifts are more powerful than the males’ and the men resent this. The men are physically stronger so there is an uneasy truce between the brotherhoods and sisterhoods.
With this kind of a background I figured ways to protect oneself from craving the other gender’s power would be woven into a culture rich in taboos and rituals. I see the mystics’ society as being very Byzantium, full of beauty, betrayal and danger. They would live in buildings that reflected this.
When my publishers asked me for inspiration for the covers I sent my resonance file. It contained photos and descriptions of the mystic city and the way the mystics dressed. I thought they’d wear a cross between Egyptian and Middle Eastern costumes, and there would be very little difference in the way men and women dressed. (Think Yul Brynner and Jake Gyllenhaal.)
Then I had to describe the characters for the cover artist.
In Besieged, Imoshen’s birth was hidden by her father, who was the leader of a brotherhood. He kept her imprisoned on an island and she was raised to be his weapon, to break the sisterhoods’ power. But she escaped and sought sanctuary with the T’En females. She’s the most powerful female mystic of her generation and the sisterhoods look to her to protect them. Meanwhile the males fear her, but she grew up loving her father and, despite his betrayal, she wants peace between the brotherhoods and sisterhoods.
Sorne is the son of the True-man king. Because he was born a half-blood mystic, his father hid him away and raised him to be a weapon to destroy the mystics. But the more Sorne sees of the world, the more he grows to question his loyalties.
In Exile–caught up in the battle between the mystics and the True-men are Ronnyn and Aravelle, a brother and sister who are swept along by events.
And in Sanctuary there is Tobazim. The brotherhoods are ruled by powerful men who are ready to back up with threat with violence. Tobazim’s gift is not one of the martial kind, but somehow he has to save his brotherhood.
I felt the cover artist, Clint Langley, did a brilliant job of encapsulating the world and the characters with the cover illustrations.
And now, I have a confession to make. While I love a good book and follow authors, sometimes I have been guilty of buying a book just because I love the cover. Sometimes I will go to the National Geographic Wallpaper site and let the beautiful images sweep me away.
Rowena has a copy of Besieged, book one of The Outcast Chronicles, to give away. Leave a comment to go in the draw. (The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to jovialvampyre.)
Are you an aural person or a visual person? Do you listen to music to set the tone for your day? Do you collect beautiful objects to make your surroundings beautiful? Or do you do both? What lifts your spirits and helps you get through a tough day?