What if your family member made a choice that could damage your reputation or limit your opportunities for life?
This is what my character Katryl faces in my work-in-progress, The Firewing Chronicles.
As I write the Firewing Chronicles, I am reminded that much of what makes it into fantasy these days is a repackaging of modern ideologies and perceptions (one of my pet peeves). However, I enjoy taking historical or just different cultures and using them as inspirations for my fantasy cultures.
(Note: This doesn't mean that if I base a fantasy culture on Japanese culture, I will get every aspect of Japanese culture correct. This is still a fantasy story, people.)
To illustrate the divide between the modern view and the more historical view of culture, let's consider the sub-plot I am currently writing.
Katryl is about to turn sixteen and, according to her culture, that is when the elders of her House give her a special name that signifies her acceptance into her House. If named, she is entitled to all the rights, privileges, and powers of her House--some of which are significant. (Sorry: No spoilers here!)
Problem: Katryl's mother shamed her House by marrying a foreigner after Katryl's biological father died. This means that, without divine intervention, Katryl will never have a name among her people. It will be like she never existed, like her father died childless.
Not so bad, right? I mean, she can still live amongst the foreigners that she has grown accustomed to.
This is where our modern thought process doesn't comprehend the rootedness of other cultures.
See, in our culture, many families are broken, so there is little identity in family or heritage. If a parent says something we dislike, we have the option to disregard them and the culture backs up our independence.
Not so in many other cultures around the world. Family is a big deal amongst many people groups. Defying an elder isn't just uncomfortable; it's downright dangerous. The entire culture backs up the tradition, not the rebel. Your family heritage--who your grandfather was, what your father does for a living--is very important to your social status and opportunities.
We also don't understand the power of association. In our world, if your uncle is a drug dealer, that's a sad thing, but it doesn't reflect on you. No one expects that you'll be a drug dealer too.
In other cultures, historically, what your family does is all important. For example, in some cultures, if a young woman gets pregnant out of wedlock, her whole family is showered in shame. Suitors might look askance at her unmarried sisters, even if those young ladies are well-known for their propriety. The available sisters might never marry as a consequence of their one sister's shame. And the unwed mother herself might have very serious consequences.
Yes, your sister, your brother, your father, your mother could literally mess up your chances in life. Redemption could be hard-earned, if it is earned at all.
So when Katryl's coming of age approaches and she questions whether or not she will be named, she is not just wondering if she'll be accepted. She is wondering if she'll ever get married, have children, gain an inheritance, learn the secret powers and knowledge of her people. She has a lot to lose if her mother's transgression is not overlooked. Her own merit is irrelevant in this matter.
Thus, while Katryl struggles to find some compelling reason for the elders of her House to name her, I struggle as an author to communicate to the reader just how serious this matter is in Katryl's culture.
In your own experience or research of other cultures, what cultural difference is most surprising to you?
I'm back! I know I've been gone for over a year, but that was because I was living the biggest adventure of my life to date. Ben Franklin said, " Either write something worth the reading or do something worth the writing." 2017--and 2018 so far--has been filled with "doing things" that are definitely worth the writing.
And every story is more interesting when told fantasy-style.
Listen while I tell the real-life tale of a dragon, a phoenix, magic wake-up juice, swords, and a treasure.
It was Ben Franklin who said, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
Sometimes it's a little hard to do both at once.
That's why I'm taking a break from HIDDEN FACE through May to blog about story, life, and all the behind-the-scenes things that create a story worth writing about.
And to ask you a really serious question.
Jossu ground his fists in his eyes and hissed through his teeth with frustration as the scream reverberated through the empty crimson-drenched corridor. Why couldn't anything be simple? Why couldn't the universe back you up when you were risking your life for others?
Then he turned and sprinted toward the sound.
* * * * *
Special Advisor Rast glanced toward the tracker on his wrist-com and noticed that the blinking dot on the map--Jossu--had increased the speed of its travel. He switched to camera mode and observed the jostling motion image captured by the microscopic camera concealed in the front of Jossu's uniform. Rast's earpiece shuddered with the scream toward which Jossu sprinted.
Hastily, Rast shifted the mode on his wrist-com. There was no time to be the soldier in the shadows.
Sorry! This past week got away from me, but I have the next episode of HIDDEN FACE scheduled for this coming Friday. If you've missed the last few episodes, binge-read them by clicking on the cover below:
Soon after Jossu's reconnaissance along the X-points, the tone sounded throughout the residential units to announce the mealtime. The Hadune emerged from their units, joining the methodical flow of Loystrek inhabitants. It was Jossu's first close observation of the Loystrek civilians and, somehow, they were not what he expected. Given his encounters with Loystrek officers, he had believed that the Loystrek were quiet, reserved, and emotionless, even in company with one another. Instead, he noted a young man flirting with a young woman, who blushed and laughed at the man’s words. Two Loystrek men strode together, conversing with the relaxed posture that reminded Jossu of his own people.
The children left their play with an eagerness that Jossu did not comprehend until he realized that the very rigid mealtimes and rationed food supply would inevitably train even the youngest consumer to prize food above play. The Kayso, while rationing their food carefully, never had such stringent rules with their children.
Today's usual episode of Hidden Face is postponed until next Friday in favor of a celebration for my new novella, Wings Beneath Water, which releases today!
If you aren't part of my email list, you want to be, because you'll be getting some goodies in your inbox today.
What's WINGS BENEATH WATER?
Dragons. Legends. An ancient power. And two brothers who refuse to give up on one another.
Click here to check out the description, book trailer, and reviews, and to buy your own copy!
In the spirit of celebration, here are some special treats:
Congratulations to Laura Pol and Keren Johnson, the winners of the giveaway! Both of you ladies will receive print copies of WINGS BENEATH WATER in the mail soon.
If you participated in the giveaway but didn't win, check your inbox. I have a special surprise for you!
And if you're not already part of my email list, you want to be, because March 31st is your lucky day. Why?
Jossu wanted to sleep, but the buzz of adrenaline in his nerves kept him awake for ksec upon ksec. He knew the feeling. His first Beast encounter on the KBCU had resulted in the same strange paradox: an exhaustion so deep he wanted to fall into oblivion, but a clash of nerves that kept his pulse elevated and his muscles taut long after the danger was over.
Two more meals passed as Jossu paced his cell (however comfortable they made him, he was well aware of his status as a prisoner). Memories and flashbacks snapped at him like strokes of an electric prod. Vance. Ombura. The Beastmaster. Colgren.
He lay on his bed and stared at the ceiling, mind clouded with memories he wished to forget, but one thought screaming over the memories with a volume that matched the pound of his own blood in his ears.
Find the answers.
Want a shot at winning one of two free copies of WINGS BENEATH WATER? Enter the giveaway for a chance to win!
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To clarify: One winner is not getting two copies. Two winners are getting one copy each. So you could be one of the lucky two!