Sunday, November 13, 2005

Supplemental Reading

If you don't want to read about issues related to the writing of fantasy novels, you can skip to the pictures at the bottom of this entry.  But I hope that you don't!

Becky asks,

Have you thought about writing a forward? A little something to explain the government, religion and political climate of Mâvarin? I've been curious all through the first book and into the second about what things like "Moneldu, 5th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY" really mean. This is just one of many comments and questions I have.

When I was seventeen years old, about the same time I first found Rani up in the beech tree, I loved to pore over the maps, character lists and end notes in Lord of the Rings, the Pern books and whatever else I was reading at the time.  I can't say I read every word of Tolkien's 134 pages of appendices at the end of The Return of the King, but I probably came close; and I consulted McCaffrey's maps and lists often.

an early Mâvarin map.

So as I started work on The Tengrim Sword, as I called my novel back then, I was thoroughly aware  how cool it could be - and how useful - to have lots of supplementary material for a book like that.  I commissioned my next door neighbor, Susan Keeter, to draw a map of Mâvarin, and I wrote an explanation of the Mâvarinû language, noting in passing that if it looked like a rabbit, I would call it a rabbit in the text, even though the rabbit was green.  I later decided that it was stupid to make the rabbits green, and established that with very few exceptions, the flora and fauna of Mâvarin are identical to those of the eastern United States.  It is, after all, an alternate universe version of the same place.  I myself grew up in Liftlabeth, but in my version of reality it's called Manlius, NY.

Beyond my character list and notes about the language, however, I largely shied away from writing too many appendices and such, largely for the same reason I didn't call a selmûn an elf.  (A selmûn is fully human, does not have pointed ears, and does not live for centuries.)  I didn't want my Mâvarin book to be an imitation of Tolkien.  If I sent off a manuscript with a foreword, a map, and six appendices, I would be sure to look like a fannish copycat with no original ideas of her own. 

So for thirty years, I've mostly kept my additional notes to myself.   I've posted notes on my web site about the religion and magic of Mâvarin, and my beta readers get my character list, with over 250 named characters.  But they don't get my list of inns, my crib sheet of important dates in Fayubi's and the country's history (a file called FabiTime), or the following notes for figuring out the date of any given incident in Mâvarin history:

FabiTime!Nishmudu = Nishmû’s Day ≈ Sunday
Masheldu = Mâshela’s Day ≈ Monday
Thaledu = Thâle’s Day ≈ Tuesday
Umvardu = Trinity Day ≈ Wednesday
Moneldu = Unity Day ≈ Thursday
Comerdu = Market Day ≈ Friday
Sabedu = Rest Day ≈ Saturday

Genorem ≈ January
Fredor ≈ February
Terchem ≈ March
Ranonem ≈ April
Sipadem ≈ May
Bupek ≈ June
Dortem ≈ July
Ogorem ≈ August
Mudelem ≈ September
Aterem ≈ October
Nefilem ≈ November
Celderem ≈ December

Nishmudu, 5th Day of Genorem, 881 MMY = Rani is born
= Sunday, January 5th, 1986
next day: Masheldu, 6th Day of Genorem, 881 MMY

Masheldu, 10th Day of Fredor, 881 MMY = Jor, twins kidnapped.
=Monday, February 10th, 1986

Comerdu, 14th Day of Fredor, 881 MMY = Jamek arrives in Liftlabeth with the twins.

So what's all this Comerdu jazz?  Why not just say, Wednesday, June 15th, 1582? 

Well, I'll tell you.  The single most important event in the history of Mâvarin and Mâton was their founding, 880 years before Rani was born.  Shortly after that, all contact with Londer and Parsi was lost.  Naturally, the people of the new countries would number their years from the Founding: Mâvarin / Mâton Years, or MMY.  (Let's just glide over the fact that their word for year may not begin with a Y, and that their alphabet is probably not our alphabet.  I can't write the whole book in Mâvarinû, can I?  I've got to draw the  line somewhere, so that people, including myself, can read and understand the thing!)

That's the explanation of the year part of the dating.  As for the months, they are not going to have a month called July, because their calendar is not a revision of one devised in the reign of Julius Caesar.  The ancestors of the Mâvarinû never worshiped Woden (Odin) and Thor, so they won't have a Wednesday (Woden's Day) or Thursday (Thor's Day).  No, their weekdays will be largely based on their own religion, and their month names will have to do with seasons and traditions and such.

All that said, I've thought seriously of leaving the date headings out of the novel manuscripts themselves.  I retain them mostly to help me keep my continuity straight, as I juggle three or four sets of character pursuing their own storylines.  But if an editor says, "Take it out," it's gone.

I just posted a newly-updated version of my notes on the languages on the Mâvarin web site tonight.  (Short version: if it's got an accent over it, it's a long vowel.)  And psst!  Becky!  The dominant and splinter religions of Mâvarin are thoroughly explored in Mages of Mâvarin.

Now that I've bored you all - the total lack of comments to last night's Heirs entry, except for faithful Becky, is seriously bumming me out - let me bring you up to date on the saga of the mice.

I released the surviving mouse before church this morning, up at Pantano Wash.  John declined to come along, and I had trouble opening the trap on my own.  When I finally got it open, mousie immediately poked his head out, leaped three feet from the trap in my gloved hands to the dusty ground, and bounded away, fast, hardly touching the ground between leaps.  Getting a good picture proved impossible, but here are the ones I managed:

Pantano Wash at 22nd St.

This is where I released the mousie - Pantano Wash, just south of 22nd St. at Pantano Parkway.

gray mousie, or brown mousie?

Would you say this is a gray mouse or a brown mouse?

Time to play Spot the Mousie!

Can you see the mousie?  He's little more than a blur - the critter was fast! 

If you're having trouble finding him, here's a hint.  He's between a rock and some burr sage.

Tonight I told John that there's at least one mouse still in the house.  I was pretty sure I'd heard one in my office.  John was not pleased with this news.  He's been searching the outside of the house for the mousies' way in, but to no avail.

Twenty minutes after that, a mouse and I startled each other in front of the fireplace.  So I cleaned out one of the humane traps and added fresh cheese.  I guess the story isn't over yet!


1 comment:

ryanagi said...

That's was very helpful, thanks! Nice to know I've been misspronouncing Mavarin in my head all this time. LOL