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Welcome! And some thoughts on using the real world to inspire Fantasy

Greetings! This is my self-published blog (I've guest-blogged on a couple of other websites in the past, but have until now not written anything for my own website.). But I think it might be worthwhile sharing some thoughts of my writing as the audience for the Moontide Quartet steadily grows. If you've found yourself this far in, please have a read and I hope you enjoy and find it interesting. Here we go...

Finding Inspiration in our world

Readers of the Moontide Quartet can hardly have helped noticing that the world of Urte draws heavily on our world in its creation, and in particular Europe and the Middle East. Names like places in Urte like 'Hebusalim' and items like the 'bekira' are quite clearly drawn from our world. Looking at some of the feedback I've seen, some have liked this aspect, others less much. So I thought it worthwhile exploring why I took that path. The reasoning was three-fold:

1. Economy of Assimilation

Each book of the Moontide is a quarter of a million words or longer, with a large cast and complex situations. I came to the decision quite early on that it would be easier for a reader to take it all in if the invented cultures were similar to real-world cultures. That way instead of having to learn a whole lot of made-up words for made-up customs, the story would 'shorthand' many of the alien concepts by referencing something already familiar to most. So instead of having to have an unfamiliar word explained, slowing the story, the reader can look at the word (like familioso or 'shihad') and instinctively know its meaning.

2. Allegorical Reasons

The Moontide Quartet isn't a straight allegory, but the similarities to our world are quite deliberate: we live in a conflicted world, divided by economic, ideological, racial and religious differences, and by making the conflicts in Urte similar, the story can have something to say about our world, and the wrongs of the conflicts we endure. And the fact it is the people of Yuros with the magic powers (as a proxy for technology) is likewise a choice made to parallel our world. The story does have things to say about tolerance, reconciliation and equality, and it never hurts to make such messages clearly relatable.

3. A Celebration

We live in an incredibly diverse world, one that I've been fortunate enough to see some of. I began writing Moontide whilst living in India, and much of the Eastern continent of Urte, Ahmedhassa/Antiopia, is inspired by this experience. I'm also a History/Classical Studies major, and have travelled in Europe and the United Kingdom and South East Asia. Incorporating aspects of that travel into the world-building of Urte is in part also a celebration of a little of the diversity, beauty and weirdness I've seen while travelling.

My hope is that readers will develop some interest in some of the things they find in Moontide; for example the Bengali Wedding ceremony is the basis for the ceremony in which Ramita Ankesharan marries Antonin Meiros. I certainly hope it isn't a distraction for readers, but instead something that helps them immerse in Urte and the Moontide story more easily.

The next blog (next week, hopefully) will be on cultural amnesia, following an excellent question raised by a translator. If you've got any questions you'd like to ask, please contact me on this website!

All the best for now,

David Hair
Auckland, New Zealand

 

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