In honor of the free promotion I'll be running this week on Laryn Rising (June 27th-29th), I thought I'd address the most commonly asked question I hear. Namely, "Where did you come up with all of that?" The answer is rather long (and possibly tortuously boring) so instead of going into all of it, I've decided to touch on the first piece: the initial inspiration, so to speak.
Long before I'd thought up Laryn, her sisters, or even the Federation, I was one European History credit shy of my History BA from BYU. I was married, had a one-year-old, and was pregnant, and we had moved to Provo specifically so I could finish up the odds and ends standing between myself and my degree. The only class offered that spring that fit my course requirements was The Spanish Colonization of North America. Yeah, I know - it didn't sound thrilling to me, either.
The class commenced, and the whole first section was spent comparing and contrasting the Spanish, French, and English colonization models used in North America, and I have to admit that I was a little fascinated by all of it. Why? Because even though the French and Spanish beat England to the punch, in the end the English (we're counting those who became Americans here, because it was the same colonization model that led to their independence) walked away with pretty much everything, other than a few pockets of Spanish and French. But that fact alone wasn't what fascinated me. It was the reasons behind it that I couldn't stop thinking about.
You see, while the French sent trappers and the Spanish sent men looking for gold, the English sent families. The Frenchmen owned no land and neither did the Spanish, and the goal of those two colonization models was the same - wealth for their respective Crowns. The English, however, came for the land. They brought their religion, their livelihoods, their women and their children, and they invested everything they had in the search for a better life.
While the Spanish and the French left everything they cared about behind, the English came with it all in tow. Think of it - the English colonists brought their infrastructure with them, complete with traditions, trades, and an actual economy. While the Spanish monarchy funded the men they sent and supported them while they were there, the successful British groups were fairly independent of the Crown. They succeeded or failed on their own merits, and were motivated by their own personal goals - the most powerful of which was a safe place to practice their different religions. (And yes, I am aware that this is a gross over-simplification of this gigantic topic. Now hear me out as I relate this back to my book.)
When we finished that section the class moved on to other topics, like the Spanish missions, etc., but in my head I was stuck on the whole 'colonization' thing. It dawned on me that if at some time in the far distant future the human race needed to establish a colony of sorts, it would be wise of them to do some research. If that was the case, wouldn't they go back and study the different colonization models that determined the creation of the United States of America? I think I would. And if it were me, I'd look at the English model and say, "Yeah, I think I'll pick that one." I would then want to incorporate each element that was critical to the success of that original venture into my own colonization model, including families, land ownership, political freedom, and the values of a moral-based/religious society.
Enter Nequam, and the James Town Venture. It took me a long time to decide where in time these people were coming from and what necessitated their need to set up a colony, and it took me even longer to figure out what sort of protagonist I wanted to put in this setting. Basically, I looked at my colonists and came up with a protagonist who was from the other end of that continuum - she's from a family-less, freedom-less, religion-less, immoral society, and the dissimilarities don't end there. For me, these elements are the foundation stones of my setting. They are not the theme or the protagonist's main conflict, but they provide the setting and situation in which her story is told.
While I could have chosen a protagonist who was born and raised in James Town, I was too intrigued by the idea of melding two completely different societies together to pass up the opportunity. This, of course, meant introducing my protagonist to all the different elements of colonial life - including religion. I really tried to do this in an organic way, without focusing on any sort of conversion or specifics. Mostly, I just needed Laryn to be introduced to the religious-based reality of her new people. Does she become religious herself? Maybe, in a sort of personal, spiritualistic way. I think the idea intrigues her, and she identifies with it a little because of her mother's belief in 'fate', but at no point does she actually become a Christian or pronounce a belief in God, and in the second book this element is left almost entirely alone, as it doesn't really have anything to do with the setting of that book, or her personal story.
The Federation, the genetic caste system, Laryn herself, and even Kieff's role in the book all have different origins and were inspired by separate events or ideas (for the most part). But as for the overall concept, I have to attribute that to a class on Spanish Colonization that I would never have opted to take if it hadn't been absolutely necessary. If it hadn't been for that class, who knows what I would have ended up writing? Maybe some things are just meant to be.
About This Blog
This blog is about my books (of course), but it's also about writing in general and the editing process. I love the puzzle of a novel, and I'm happy to share anything I know about editing and revising. Any questions? Leave them in the comment box or send me an email, and I'll address them as quickly as I can.