Fantasy Tree

Mountains near the lool forest

Fantasy world building is fun. It is also difficult. There are so many things to consider: cultural differences (their are some regional dialects), technology (about where our world was in the mid-1800s), a monetary system (tokens: 10 coppers = 1 silver; 10 silvers = a gold), and magic. In my Fire Song books, some people have the innate ability to summon elemental magic: Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind. My world does not have is religion. It has nothing to do with the story, so I left it to the readers’ imaginations.

Lool tree comparison

I invented a tree for the second book.

Lools live only in the far northeast of the Four Realms in the Fayazor Realm. (A single other lool exists, but that comes later in the story.)

The Four Realms, Remnon, Cambia, Fayazor, and Arikaan
(Note that Treetown is in the northeast of Fayazor)

People historically ignored the lool tree because its wood is incredibly hard, so it is not harvestable. It is almost impervious to fire, insects, and cutting, and is virtually immortal. A century ago, following the Lee-Ath war, a group of people established a community in its lower branches aptly called Treetown. They built platforms (made of wood from other trees) that connect from tree to tree. Since the platforms cannot be nailed to the trunks or branches, they are attached by a system of ropes. The ropes allow for minor movement when the trees sway, thus making them stable. The lower branches have needle-like leaves that, when distilled, make a soporific painkiller, which is the town’s only export and its sole source of income. The townspeople make more than enough to provide for their needs.

The canopy leaves are the size of dinner plates and provide enough shade to keep the ground beneath the trees free of undergrowth. The leaves also move and follow the sun. Since the forest is on the western side of a tall range of mountains, the movement of the leaves allows them to absorb maximum sunlight.

The trees have porous cores in their trunks and branches. Treetowners long ago invented a waste system that utilizes that space. It takes a month with a heated iron bit to drill into a tree. A pipe inserted to the core allows for drainage of gray and black water which the tree utilizes for nutrients. Thus humans have a sewage system, and the trees benefit. The townspeople collect rainwater in cisterns atop their houses which are built snugly against the smooth trunks. The trees also provide water: their cores absorb nutrients from the waste water, thus purifying it and, since they require very little water, they exude the excess via the canopy leaves, which drips into the cisterns.

Have you invented a world? Tell me about it.

Current Works in Progress – It’s all Fantasy

Trilby Plants, Fantasy, Chaos, Gatekeeper Book 2

I’m working on three books at the same time. The reason is Chaos, which is finished pending final proofing, has been in the works for ten years and I want to get it out there.

A couple years ago, while searching my computer and backup for all my files on Chaos, I found Fire Song, which I started more than 30 years ago. For those of you in FAW – Flint Area Writers – an early draft was what I read in hopes of becoming a member of FAW. Their Facebook page: FAW on Facebook.

FAW is going strong. They helped me immensely then as they continue to help each other and new members hone their craft.

Continue reading “Current Works in Progress – It’s all Fantasy”

From Red Paint People to Magic

Trilby Plants, Gatekeeper, Contemporary Fantasy/Horror

 

 

 

 

 

In my world of contemporary fantasy, the unreal can become real.

Real historical facts:

  • Vikings and other explorers visited northeastern North America at least 1000 years ago.
  • Scottish sailors and others probably explored the region in the 1300s and 1400s.
  • The Red Paint People were an indigenous group that lived in northeastern North America three to five thousand years ago.
  • More on Northeast history and Red Paint People.

There are many monolithic structures in New England and northward. Who built them? Perhaps Scandinavian settlers, perhaps earlier people. Yankee Magazine has an interesting article on America’s Stonehenge.

My world of the Unreal

All stories begin with “what if,” and usually my “what ifs” involve magic.

There are unseen energies all around us. Electricity, radio waves and gravity are very real, but we can’t see them. Yet they eMagic, Contemporary Fantasyxist. Think of our universe as a bubble. There is scientific discussion about this theory of bubble universes. If we exist in a bubble, there must be other universes around ours.

Suppose there was a way to travel from a world in one bubble to one in another. To those who could not conceive of such travel, it would be like magic. It was once thought that human flight was impossible. Maybe flight is magic. Computers, smartphones and modern televisions – even cars – are electronic magic.

From lefthandedtoons
From lefthandedtoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

What if there are people who can see magical energies and manipulate them? And, what if, millennia ago, some people from another world who could wield Magic opened gateways from their world to Earth and other worlds through which they traveled and traded with each other? Suppose one of those gateways was constructed in the mountains along the coast of Maine, near my mythical town of Moose Harbor.

That’s how I got from real to  Magic in my contemporary fantasy/horror novel, Gatekeeper, soon to be free.

Gatekeeper KindleStay tuned for the Rules of Magic.

Why I love Contemporary Fantasy

Faerie, Magic
Guliver from Pixabay.com

When I was five, my mother read Gulliver’s Travels to my brother and me. All my brother remembered was that Gulliver urinated on the Lilliputian town to save it from a fire. I remembered the fantastical element of tiny people living their lives in what amounted to another world. I also remember a book from my childhood about brownies and fairies and magic.

I loved the idea of magical creatures co-existing with people who for the most part were totally unaware of them. Except for a select few who, for some reason, were given the gift of seeing the invisible.
In my stories I see what is invisible to others, whether the world of faerie, or aliens.

As do all stories, my contemporary fantasy, Circles in Time, came from a “what if” idea. What if a modern man met a fairy? Irish mythology is peopled by fairies and other magical beings. I chose the time of the Tenth Century because little documentation has survived from that period except for myth and legend. This makes for fertile ground for planting the idea of Siobhan, a fairy woman wronged by a clan chieftain, who is rescued by the queen of the fairies and sent to the future to escape and heal.

Siobhan returns to her time. Even though damaged by her interaction with human society, she seeks legitimacy for her son among the humans, in the stronghold of the clansman who forced himself on her, the father of her son.

Thus begins Siobhan’s spiral of bad choices. Choices that culminate in her summoning a forbidden spell whose consequences follow her descendants through a thousand years of history.

Theatre and the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

To all of you who live in and around Flint, Michigan:
My daughter is involved in an amazing new project. This is a letter she recently sent:

First off: Please forgive this super long message! But seeing as we don’t know each other, I thought a real introduction was in order!

I’m Jen Plants, the Carl Djerassi Playwriting Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I teach writing for the theatre and performance studies. My specialities include documentary theatre and the way ideas about race are performed in America, and I’m hoping my next project will be a documentary work of theatre about the Flint water crisis.

I’ll be in Flint December 15-18, and I’d welcome the opportunity to sit down and hear your story.

I was born and raised in Michigan. I went to public schools in Grand Blanc, and I got my career start early at the Flint Youth Theatre. Ultimately, the artistic director of Flint Community Theatre encouraged me to go to college to study theatre, and the rest, well, is history. Flint is a city I love, and its people and places made me who I am today.

I make nonfiction theatre based on real life issues and events. My most recent work, No Feedback, is about the forms of discrimination that lead to genocides. It premiered in London in May and is continuing development for a European tour this summer.

I’ve been following the recent water crisis in Flint with alarm. The ongoing story of Flint needs to be told and repeated and remembered throughout the nation. The people of Flint have truth to speak to power–theirs is a story of global implications.

I’m interested in the voices of those citizens on the frontlines–the individual stories that can too easily get lost in the historical record of events–and I hope that the core of my work will be taken from personal interviews.

Interview-based theatre has covered a huge variety of subjects from Hurricane Katrina to those exonerated from death row sentences. This kind of play preserves the voices of the people who are most impacted by an event, and most importantly, through performance, it gives others a present-tense experience that invites both empathy and action.

I can meet just about any time from the afternoon of Tuesday, December 15 through the morning of December 18. I can also make just about any location work–I’d welcome the chance to buy you a cup of coffee (or bring you some donuts from Donna’s.)

My goal is simply this: to use art and the power of live theatre to tell your stories–Flint’s story.

Any questions? Just ask!

Hopeful that we can meet and talk soon,
Jen Plants