Days this year on which I've scripted or written fiction
10 / 365 (2.74%)
I've spent a lot of time this month exchanging emails with one of my nature consultants. I say "one" because The Three Lands series is blessed with not one but two nature consultants. How did this marvellous feat occur? Well may you ask.
It started with me chatting with Parhelion about the geography of the Three Lands. (I will pause here and say that I don't actually know what Parhelion's pronouns are; our lengthy conversations with each other took place during the years before pronouns become a common topic for introductions. So I'll be gender-neutral.) I think Parhelion might have been beta reading for me and had a question about locations. So I sent them this to give them an idea of what I had in mind for the geography.
I got back an early version of this.
You could hear my squees all the way to Pluto.
We refined the map a bit, amidst lengthy discussions on topics such as, "How did Capital Mountain gets its caves? What makes the cave walls glow? Why do the caves go all the way through the mountain? Do you even know anything about what geological forces create caves?" (As you can gather, Parhelion is a drill-sergeant of a beta reader.)
Somehow along the way, the topic of climate came up. At that time, my idea of climate in the Three Lands was "It's cold in the north and hot in the south."
So Parhelion sent me this. Accompanied by a 3000-word essay entitled "Climate and Vegetation of the Three Lands," which described the nine climate zones of the Great Peninsula and nearby mainland, listing appropriate vegetation for each zone, explaining how the geographical features of the Three Lands affect climate, and accompanied by links to examples of each climate zone.
The thud you just heard was me hitting the deck.
Once I'd recovered my senses, I thought, "Gee, it sure would be nice if I could get some information on animals too."
At which point, fatefully, maureenlycaon_dw happened to post one of her periodic posts about paleontology.
(*Looks more carefully at the tagged posts.* How could I have missed that Maureen has written paleo-porn?)
"Hey," I said, rather tentatively, "I don't suppose you could tell me what sort of animals the Great Peninsula has, could you?"
Into my inbox dropped 12,000 words on what animals lived in the Great Peninsula and nearby mainland, accompanied with a discussion of how the evolution of human life in that world would affect wildlife.
By this time, as you might imagine, I was limp with shock. And greedy. Because when I got to the point of editing Breached Boundaries (this was quite a few years later), I realized that I had some fauna holes in several of my scenes. So I went back to Maureen. After we'd sorted out that songbirds don't sing while flying (gosh, seriously?), I told Maureen that there were a couple of points in one of my scenes where I needed my characters to be looking at the countryside around them.
There is a reason why I specialize in stories set indoors. As I said to Maureen, "What, you thought it was mere h/c leanings that drew me to prisonfic? When I write prisonfic, I don't have to pretend to know something about nature! I always keep my prisoners inside! Look at those giant gates I put across the entrance to the Eternal Dungeon, to prevent my characters from wandering outside to listen to birds sing as they fly!"
So I asked Maureen, very meekly, to tell me what my characters were looking at in a brief scene.
She sent me back 800 words. Water clarity, water flow, waterlife, vegetation, river boundaries, insects, reptiles, birds, clouds, weather, and a discussion of how age affects the shape of mountains.
I wrote back, "Oh. My. God. May I borrow your brain? You imagine a nature scene, and you see All That. Me, I'm like, 'Maybe there are some clouds?'"
Anyway, this is all to say that if you happen to notice any flora, fauna, geography, geology, or climate in my Three Lands stories, chances are good that they are there due to the generosity of Parhelion and Maureen Lycaon.
(The black border mountains are my contribution to the series. You can tell that because they don't quite fit the laws of nature.)