When Kirsten told me she wanted a post on fictional settings I was pretty excited. Fictional settings are, more often than not, my thing. I write fantasy and since April I've been doing nothing but dreaming up fictional settings for my current work. I love creating worlds by piecing bits of things that I'm familiar with and adding things that (I like to think) are wholly of me. So I wanted to introduce you guys to Morag's Glen, the setting for my current work in progress.
Morag's Glen came to me with it's physical aspects already fully formed. For months before I started planning, I could see it. A town, built at the mouth of a valley, surrounded by all sides by mountains that rose into thick, never ending clouds. The sky was always overcast, winter was long, summer was short and life was simple. With this valley came one character: Behzad.
I already knew Behzad. She was a character that had been inside my head for three years by the time I wrote this story, who had already seen one incarnation of herself in a contemporary fantasy and who I thought would flourish in a world that was designed specifically for her.
She was also half Arab. And I didn't want to take a character that was half Arab and then dump her into a European setting, which Morag's Glen most decidedly was. I basically had a lot of translating to do. And map drawing. And culture designing.
What happened was that I created Angelline. Angelline is one very large kingdom, split into two territories: Sardis, the southern, desert territory, enclosed on one side by Aldar and the other by an ocean. The northern territory, Aldar, is rolling hills and mountains and lakes. And Behzad has a foot in both worlds - she is Aldarin and Sardissian.
And so are the people of Morag's Glen.
For me, Morag's Glen isn't just dark mountains, and mist and a glittering river cutting through it all. It's the people who make their home there. It's flowing qaftans, and snow and sharing tea and sugar cubes. It's a New Year's winter festival that blends Aldarin and Sardissian customs. It's meat filled pastries, and frost covered cakes, and muted colors.
Morag's Glen was living when it was just mountains and mist, but it came alive when the people settled there. When it formed as a mix of immigrant and native culture that produced something that was new and beautiful. And it wasn't just a valley. It was a place that my characters could call home.