Right now, mostly inside my head. But when my book Fourteen Stones comes out this fall, I hope you’ll pay my favorite little country a visit. It’s a beautiful place.
Fourteen Stones got its start in the summer of 2015, when my husband and I visited the northwestern corner of Spain, traveling in the regions of Galicia, Asturias, and Cantabria. It was my first time on the other side of the Atlantic. Our adventures there, the beautiful places we explored, and above all the incredible sense of history we encountered, inspired me to try writing fantasy. A very rough draft of a novel (then called From the Circle House) came out of that summer. Over the next few years, that project gradually evolved into Fourteen Stones.
While writing, I spent many, many hours in Namora, which I created using the memories of what we’d seen in Spain.
Fourteen Stones mainly stays in Namora’s eastern region, starting at about the midway point of the mountain range that separates it from its huge neighbor Lassar, and moving north to its coast. For all the time I’ve spent there, getting acquainted with that corner of it, there’s still a lot of the country that I haven’t explored. It’s fun to know it has much more territory to discover.
I’d like to tell you a little about my fictional country, starting with the capital city Sostavi, on the northern coast. Sostavi is an ancient place. Some Namorans believe that their goddess, Kenavi, lived there when she was a mortal woman. In those times, it would have been nothing more than a village, a huddle of small stone houses behind a guarding wall.
Modern-day Sostavi, which you can visit in Fourteen Stones, has changed a lot from its origins:
“In Namora’s capital city, Sostavi, the Great Circle House rose above the clusters of white-walled buildings that clung like crystals to the high hills. Down below, the deep turquoise of the Vandeni Ocean met the shallower, silver-blue water of the harbor. The summer would see fleets of fishing boats leaving the harbor before dawn to come back in the evening riding low in the water, weighed down with their rich burdens.” – excerpt from Fourteen Stones
In future posts, I’ll share more about Sostavi, its “origin story,” and the real-life city that helped me sketch it. (That city is Cudillero, on Spain’s northern coast, in the Asturias region.) For now, to close today’s post, I’ll tell you a bit about my favorite place in Namora: Lida village, in Kalnu region, right up against the Senai Mountains that form the Namora-Lassar border.
Lida is a farming village, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone. The calendar year centers on two things: the major observances in honor of the goddess Kenavi, and the planting and harvesting months at the crux of the farming life. Here’s a snapshot of Lida in Derla, the harvest month:
“Lida’s craftspeople and tavern-keepers had their businesses clustered around the village square. Five roads, lined with wooden houses roofed with tiles of gray-blue Namoran clay, came out from the square like the spokes of a wheel. Banks of mint took over the sides of the road beyond the village, and the gravel gave way to dirt track through open fields. […]
The scent of the late-growing mint blended with the dry earthiness of fallen leaves and the cool clear taste you only found in the mountains. Past the outskirts of the village, birds sang and rustled in the tall grass, late insects chattered, and to the east, the gray peaks of the Senai reached up toward the cloudless sky.“ – excerpt from Fourteen Stones
Lida is also the hometown of my favorite character, a priest named Ribas Silvaikas. I’ll introduce him in a future post.
Meanwhile, I’ll close with a picture of the kind of view you might see from the little farming village:
If you’d like to see more posts about my fictional world, its people, and its real-world inspirations, please consider subscribing to the blog. Thanks for visiting!