Poor Ormod

I envision Cedeira’s culture as, essentially, Theme Park Germanic Medieval Europe with some actual historical tidbits. It’d be more accurate to say that it’s analogous to northern half of Europe in general (including northeastern), but dominated by a minority of quasi-Anglo-Saxon elite from northern Cedeira.

(That is, they’re concentrated in northern Cedeira now. Originally, they weren’t from there at all; their ancestors lived in what is now central Marelia, and were driven out first by dragons, and later by dryads and Elentians.)

One of the things I did to underscore the association was to use Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Saxon-inspired names for the Cedeiran characters, usually with an eye to meaning. So, the children of the Poldan family:

Bletsung: blessing

Ormod: sad, despairing, hopeless

Giva: gift

Wynedra: stream-joy

One of these is not like the others.

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Update: transitions are the worst

20 pages into the transition chapter of doom!

General feeling: ugh.

Probably my favourite passage:

“Was she part of the royal family?”

Arceptra nodded, then shook her head. “A cousin. Distant cousin. But everyone knew of her. She was the favourite of Princess Evadne, and a captain in the war like Aunt Ariana, and … ” She swallowed again.

I almost asked about that, but I found it so easy to believe that Alaia Cordell had been a soldier that I didn’t bother.


“It is not nothing,” I said firmly. “It is a kindness, one of many, and that—” My tongue tripped not over words, but the absence of them, the chasms of feeling in my schoolroom Elentian. “That carries significance for me.”


Her hands stilled. She didn’t smile, as she so often did, but something still softened her whole face.


“You’re welcome, then,” she said.

When I was burning out in the last phases of my MA program, I really had no capacity left for writing. My dear friend Juliana suggested making an aesthetic post for the novel instead. I considered a general one, but in the end decided to focus on the two protagonists, Giva Rohondyl and Arceptra Cordell—and heartily enjoyed it!


– “Giva” is Rachel Hurd-Wood in Perfume (Hurd-Wood is twenty-five to Giva’s thirteen, but was fifteen at the time of the film)

– “Arceptra” is a photograph by Felix Heru Hermawan, which I ran over years ago and immediately thought (apart from eye colour) the perfect Arceptra.


I regret my decision (except not)

Probably the absolute worst decision I made for the novel?

Deciding the main POV character would come from a foreign country.

Oh, it’s worked well in a lot of ways. The character, Giva, provides the usual Fish Out of Water benefits. Everything can be explained because it’s nearly as strange to her as us. She can ask questions for the audience. She can even validate/echo probable responses like “wait, what?” and “I’m never going to remember all those names.” And her presence has drastically reduced the difficulties I’ve had with the Real Protagonist™ for years.

(♫ how do you solve a problem like Arceeeeptraaaa ♪)  


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Larian isn’t actually paying me

I don’t think of myself as a gamer. I’m … someone who plays a small selection of video games on the “normal” setting. In my misspent youth, I was even known to play on Easy.

That said, the character-focused ones are 1) fun! and 2) weirdly useful writing tools.

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Lady Arceptra, a witch, and Miss Rohondyl, her companion

characters © @isabelpsaroslunnen; art © me

This is really magnificent. It fuses the robe and gown influences pretty much just like I imagined, and I love that–well, you can see they’re getting their clothes from the same place while having completely polarized tastes, haha. Also Giva’s side-eye and Arceptra’s tiny sparkliness! And I really like Arceptra’s coiffure–extravagant but not ridiculous 😀

I never really thought of how Giva’s sleeves would work, but … while I initially was mostly “!!!!!!” at Arceptra’s gorgeousness, I really love what you did with Giva’s. Both prim and down-to-earth, which is exactly her 🙂