Kendra of Knitted by God’s Plan, in anticipation of publishing her newest book, The Ankulen (an-KOO-len), is writing about “Memorable Worlds” she has read about, which have helped shape her own writing. This inspired me to feature the literary “worlds” that have influenced my own worldbuilding—thrilling word!—beginning with my earliest recollections. Kendra is also hosting a giveaway, and the prize is a free copy of The Ankulen! So without further ado, my thoughts on the worlds that have shaped my writing:
My Experience with this World:
Probably my first introduction to fantasy came from the fairy tales Mom used to read to my brother and me when we were little. In fact, we still have the tall, skinny book of classic stories—such as Little Read Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, etc.—erm, *somewhere.* While not an actual “world,” per se, the fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and others introduced me to Fairies (or Faeries, as I spell it in my own little world) and the fun kind of magic of imagination.
(I should mention that Mom and Dad always told us that fairy tales were just pretend, whereas the Bible stories they also read to us were true. They were very careful to differentiate between fantasy and reality even then.)
I’m afraid I don’t know much about the authors themselves. It seems to me I heard or read somewhere that the Brothers Grimm went all round to the old folks in Germany, writing down the stories that had been handed down orally from generation to generation. Anderson, I think, thought up his stories himself, and other tales such as The Five Chinese Brothers (or whatever its proper title is) and The Arabian Nights are probably from the folklore of their original cultures.
I’ve never found any maps of the various places where these stories are set, unfortunately. Most of the Grimms’ tales take place in Medieval times or a little after, with forests and castles and such. Anderson’s tales are a bit more diverse; The Steadfast Tin Soldier occurs in a nursery (although the poor fellow ends up in the sewer at one point); The Little Mermaid of course is set under, by and on the sea. Most of the Arabian Nights take place somewhere in Persia or Arabia, although the tale of Aladdin (Allah-ed-Din in the original version) is set in China.
Peoples and Culture:
Most of the people you will meet in any of your general fairy tales are human, although they often encounter such diverse creatures as Fairies, Dwarfs, Ogres, Trolls, Giants, Genii, dragons, and of course talking animals and wicked witches and wizards.
What I like about this world:
All the fantastic Creatures one could meet while going about one’s own business! Also, I must confess to a weakness for magical objects—flying carpets, food that never gets used up no matter how long your journey, objects that change color to reflect the well-being of an absent loved one, lanterns that light themselves when touched, and pockets that always give you a handful of gold coins—that sort of thing. ;-)
What I don’t like:
Many of the Grimms’ lesser-known (and some well-known) fairy tales tend to be, well, grim. Some enchantments can only be broken by dismemberment of the enchanted party; others involve child abuse and even cannibalism (!), and a few have odd or mean-spirited endings. Anderson’s tales almost always end sadly or have some strange ideas woven into them that could confuse impressionable young minds. And some of Sinbad (or Es-Sindibad)’s adventures could give sensitive readers nightmares. O.O
What I learned from this world:
I actually never thought about lessons learned from fairy tales until I began writing this post. However, I think there are some things to take away from a jaunt through Fairyland:
· There is a definite good and bad side to magic. It all depends on what it’s used for (and I would add, and where it comes from).
· If anything, I’ve learned what not to put in my own works of fantasy!
· That said, I’ve gained a bit of insight into the diverse and fascinating Creatures that inhabit the realms of fantasy, which will be useful for building my own world and its cultures.
· Goodness, kindness, perseverance and courage are always valued and rewarded in the end—and the bad guys get their just deserts (and how!).
Don’t forget to check out Kendra’s blog and read her Memorable Worlds posts—and maybe write your own!
Until next time, Gentle Readers,