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Leaving One World Behind for Another
by J. Kathleen Cheney
While I’m writing this, the last book of my Golden City series, The Shores of Spain, is poised to debut. If you count the three novels, the two novellas I’m working on putting out, and the notes for the third novella (or possibly fourth novel) that’s currently waiting in a file on my desktop, I have written nearly 500,000 words in this setting—an alternate 1902 Portugal.
Because it’s Historical Fantasy, I’ve spent the last few years researching for this series. I’ve studied history, language, and customs. I’ve learned to cook some of the local food (I’m a terrible cook, though.) I’ve actually traveled to Portugal and spent a couple of weeks there. For years it seemed that every spare moment was spent researching Portugal, and every spare penny was put toward period maps, travel videos, and relevant books.
And now that’s all over. Or is it?
It’s been hard for me to stop researching. I’ll see an article on one of the Portugal Facebook groups I follow, and find myself falling down the rabbit hole of research again….for no good reason. Am I ever going to put that knowledge to work? I don’t know.
Did you know that the Agramonte Cemetery in Porto is overrun with cats? Someone even took the time to set up a Reddit for pictures of cats at Agramonte, although no one has ever posted on it. Apparently, setting up a “cat in the cemetery” Reddit is common—there seem to be a lot of cat/cemetery pictures there. I don’t know how much time I spent down that particular rabbit hole, but it was far more than I needed because I only went there to make certain that Agramonte was opened before 1903.
The problem with stopping one’s research is that the setting doesn’t stop being interesting.
So I’ve had to remind myself not to purchase more books about Portugal. I’ve tried to limit my time on webpages about the setting. I’ve even let my language practice lapse, one thing I actually should not give up.
But the issue here is time. Because I only have a finite amount of time to get the next book written, I have to hustle to get my research done. I’m researching underground building design, Scandinavia, India, Persia. I’m having to consider new languages and peoples and I’m fleshing out a whole new world…in a matter of months, not years.
And just as I did with Portugal, I’ve fallen in love with this new setting. It’s a second world fantasy, which means I’m building it from the ground up. Or from under the ground and up.
I’ve had to do this before. I wrote three novellas before the Portugal books that were set in Saratoga Springs, New York. I accumulated what feels like a ton of research info on that location. Many of those books are still on the shelf behind me. Will I ever write something set there again? I certainly hope so.
Because we never truly forget our older settings. We will always love them, like a friend that we haven’t seen in years but with whom we still try to keep in touch. We know them. They’re familiar. Comfortable.
But for writers it’s always on to the next thing, always with a prayer that the next thing will be even more fun, and more successful. Fingers crossed!
Courtesy of the author, we are giving away a copy of The Golden City and The Seat of Magic by J Kathleen Cheney for one (1) random commenter! So, leave a comment below to enter!
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