It’s day three of Valinora Troy’s blog takeover, and today she shares with us some of the inspiration for the fantastical elements in her debut book, The Lucky Diamond.
WHEN Iseult asked me what inspired my sentient diamonds and the talking canoe character in my children’s fantasy, I was really stuck. Saying they were “just there” didn’t seem much of an answer (I gave it anyway). Shouldn’t an author know where their ideas come from? I decided I better look at the main story elements in The Lucky Diamond and see if I could tell where any of them came from.
The world of Nivram with its monsters and dangers.
The idea of writing a fantasy was directly inspired by hearing the story of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was six. I loved Narnia and re-read the books many times as a child. Entering a magic world seemed like the most fabulous thing ever. I hated every time the children had to go home, which as Lewis wrote a portal fantasy, happened at the end of most of the books, so I left my characters in their world all the time. Reading The Lord of the Rings when I was nine or ten opened my mind to the wonderful complexity of a secondary world, and suddenly I didn’t just have a witch causing trouble, but the safety of the whole Diamond realm was at stake.
The Great Forest.
There is a reason why everyone in Lowdar is terrified of The Great Forest. Monsters live within its fastness and will occasionally emerge, eager to devour anyone in their path! It’s easy to see influences for this forest, from Hansel and Gretal to Fangorn, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase to The Three Toymakers. The latter made a huge impression and I’m sure contributed to the invention of my evil forest.
Maps. Quests. Journeys.
Who doesn’t love them? While I have read many literal hero journeys, as a child the most influential of these was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So I invented my own dangerous obstacles and drew a map. A terrible map artistically, much improved by my sister, and ultimately replaced by the amazing map Dewi Hargreaves drew for the book. Again thanks to Tolkien, I realised that randomly throwing in death traps and unusual creatures, while fun, is more satisfying when these things have a purpose, such as being key to the world or plot development.
Narnia, Five children and It, Famous Five… but mostly it was because I am from a large family, we were close in age and played a lot together. Initially inspired by some of my siblings, it didn’t take long for my characters to take over. Like my own family, they still irk each other, disagree, snap and fight, but also play together, support, and unite in times of adversity.
I read many books where magic is apparently random, wave a magic wand and anything is possible. My preference is for books where the magic is well-worked out, with clear, logical rules, and believable consequences. Realistic magic, you might say. The best magic system I have ever read is Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series (if you like fantasy and haven’t read Nix, you are seriously missing out). The magic system in The Lucky Diamond has rules, magic is intrinsic to the nature of something, unless you are like my evil antagonist and try to subvert it.
Speaking of which, a beautiful evil queen who wants to control everyone? Her origins are a bit different but I admit to being directly inspired by Lewis for her appearance. I’ve read that E. Nesbitt was his inspiration, but I also read many of her fantasy stories, so I am happy for them to share the credit (the blame is all mine!).
No, they are not hobbits! Did they enter the story after I read The Lord of the Rings? As it happens, yes, but their feet are not hairy.
The sentient Diamonds, Charlie the canoe, the living rocks, the Demerai…
No, still no clue where any of these ideas or characters came from. One of the most exciting things about writing is when something totally unexpected and unforeseen pops into your head, for no apparent reason, and you want to drop everything else and find out more about it. I know that Tolkien and Lewis have hugely influenced my writing but I hope some day that my Diamonds will carve out their own little niche in the fantasy universe.
Thank you, Valinora. It’s been a wonderful blog takeover.
Remember, today is the last day to get your copy of The Lucky Diamond at a special price.