Inspiration is a funny thing.
I don’t recall precisely when I had the first inkling of wanting to write Crosswind, which is due out in November from Marcher Lord Press, but I do remember where – walking past the chapter books for grade-school age readers at the library where I work. I’d been mulling the idea of a fantasy/steampunk story involving 19th century and early 20th century technology, especially trains and biplanes. The city had to be up high, somewhere. The image flashed into my head—a city on a mountain’s edge, on a cliff, overlooking a valley. And the name was instantaneous — Perch. You know, like a bird’s perch. Not like the fish.
That was late fall or early winter 2010, I think. I didn’t do much with it as I was deep into writing Broken Sight. But as I said in my post two weeks ago, I wrote down notes about the main characters around the end of December. Sometime after Jan. 2, 2011, I took my sons—then ages 6 and 8—to Prosinski Park, the local baseball field. That’s where the city crews pile up all the snow they plow. And boy, was it ever a pile. It had to be ten feet tall at the highest.
We leapt across from peak to peak, and into ravines. It took up half the parking lot. One of us, I forget which, joked about how we were giants atop mountains—and my mind immediately started churning.
Perch. It was right there.
The picture was in the back of my mind from that day forward. It was up to a pair of computer programs to help me formulate maps for both Perch and its environs. Yes, I am a sucker for maps. I used a great free program called Roleplaying City Map Generator 5.40 to auto-generate a base map for the city-state, which I then modified as per my needs. Here’s the current rendering:
I also bought a program called Fractal Terrains that auto-generates planets. Nerd heaven! That gave me a whole planet and, for the purposes of Crosswind, a continent on which to place the Sawtooth Mountains and Wright Valley. These two maps show the entire world (left) and a close up of the south end of the Wright Valley (right).
World-building is by far my favorite part of writing. I see this stuff in my head and have the need to draw or design it on screen or paper, to have something I can see or touch.
It’s a blast.
Next week, I’ll delve further into the world of Perch by answering the pressing question: What’s a branter?