Epic World Building

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Over at Our Epic Worlds, a blog dedicated to fantasy world-building, M.L. Spencer was kind enough to interview me about creating the historical-fantasy world of Egretia. I got to answer a few questions about Felix and the magical world he lives in.

Here’s a short extract:

How does the landscape or geography of your world affect the plot or theme of the story?

One major change from Rome, is that Egretia is a sea-side port. The iconic Lighthouse of Alexandria (the Pharos) is also replicated in Egretia, albeit with a magical bent. It’s a reminder that the fantasy culture of the novels draws primarily – but not only – from Rome. Many other places are alluded to as well.

A side effect is the cuisine. While the romans certainly had a fascination with exotic dishes (jellyfish egg custard, anyone?), Egretians take it a step further. From the squid-onna-stick that Felix buys at a street-side stall, to his comment that ‘Our city may be named after the regal birds that grace our shores, but our people march on squid.’

My (and it is mine) obsession with squids and squid-related dishes, filters through the book.

I did do a lot of research into Garum. This was made of fermented fish guts, was tangy-salty in flavour, and was used on everything. Like Ketchup, but smelling of rotting fish.

The Romans loved it. I just added some squid to it. It has even inspired one fan (a vegetarian!) to go on and research for herself the historical production of garum… You can find her notes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxakUQABGcA

On the more serious side, the collegia in Egretia are modelled more on the Alexandrian Museon, rather than the Roman collegia. In Roman Latin, the word “collegium” means a merely sodality of tradesmen. In Egretia the meaning is closer to the modern meaning, of a teaching establishment. There is even a great library under the Collegium Incantatorum, housing ancient scrolls on the physical and metaphysical sciences.

You can read the full interview here.

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