Settling on a Concept
I decided to take on the mammoth task of world-building.
Fantasy has always been a love of mine. There’s nothing better than escaping the horrible things in this world and moving into another filled with endless, exciting possibilities.
I have tried to write my own fantasy world before and made some admittedly lazy attempts at this. Anyone who does world building or simply respects the genre will know that you cannot do a lazy version of an entire world. I tried to invent my own tiny world within the confines of a walled city, with everything outside the city as a blank nothingness.
In my weak defense, it was for a university project and I had only limited time. However, that blankness is still there, burning a hole in a dark and dusty folder somewhere. I still haven’t done anything with it and probably never will.
This time I want to do it right. I owe it to the genre I love.
I started with a concept. A lot of this type of high/epic fantasy follows a particular theme. It is based around medieval Britain/Europe. It is based on Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and the history they are based on. I know why people still continue to write this way. They are popular books and they are set in a type of era that’s very interesting.
The medieval world gives writers swords, castles, kings, dragons – all the things we loved as children and couldn’t let go of. My lazy story was based around this. I clearly thought ‘well I’ve read fantasy, I know all that medieval stuff. I’ll just plonk a castle here and a dragon there and whey!’ and I insulted the genre.
The truth is, I actually know very little about the medieval era. The little bits I know or more likely assume I know, are interesting, but it’s never spurred me into meticulous research. I think any advice I would give on this would fall into ‘write what you know’, although I don’t usually like that advice. And if you don’t know it, you better make sure that you do at some point.
So I learned to forgive myself for my crimes against fantasy and have taken it as a lesson. I came to the decision, no medieval stuff. This led me on to think about what historical period interests. It wasn’t difficult to pick an era.
My True Love
I have adored Ancient Egypt since Year 3 in primary school when my teacher sat us down on the carpet and told us about the Egyptians pulling brains out of dead people’s noses. While all the normal, healthy-minded children said ‘eee that’s sick’ (in a Scouse accent), I was sitting there grinning like some sort of miniature psychopath.
So I fell in love with Ancient Egypt. It was an insane, beautiful, horrible, brilliant era. I could never get bored with it. It was something completely different. It was like reading a fantasy story. How could those people have actually existed? They felt fictional, but the best part was that they weren’t.
Egypt helped me come across another culture, Ancient Rome. The part that interested me most was the conflict between the two countries, and Rome’s triumph against the dying Egyptian empire.
I became interested in Rome not just because of the link to Egypt but because it too is amazing. An empire with incredible military might, armed with the audacity to take on the world, their ambition for glory and their ingenuity, make them one of the most fascinating cultures of all time.
What I wanted to do is blend these two loves together to make a fantasy baby. I wanted the technological and societal advancements of Rome but also the mystery and exotic picture of Egypt.
This became the basis for me to set my world on. I began to use Ancient Egypt as a foundation.