As most aspiring fantasy writers do, I think, I have had for over a decade a fantasy world being built inside my head. For more than a decade, I’ve called that world Avar Narn.
There have been major changes and reworkings to the world over time, and it is currently under what I hope is its last set of major revisions before I’m content enough (emphasis on enough–I’ve discovered, if only recently, that if I wait for it to be perfect it will never go anywhere) to start writing seriously within the setting for publication. In fact, I hope to soon finish editing on a few short stories set within the Avar that will be posted to the blog.
Avar Narn is an eclectic place, influenced as it is by a wide range of authors. It’s neither Tolkien nor Martin, but the influence of both are undeniable. There’s definitely a streak of Miéville (one of my favorites for so many reasons) and, I think, some tone if not theme borrowed (stolen, really) from Mark Smylie’s Artesia graphic novels and setting. Undoubtedly, my long experience with various roleplaying game settings has formed some of my opinions about what makes a good fantasy setting. I could go on, but it’s perhaps best to let it stand on its own rather than to list a bunch of people whose works I can strive for but about whom I make no pretentious affectation of emulating.
Like Tolkien and Lewis, my faith is an important factor in the design of the world. Unlike those fine gentlemen, I prefer my theological assertions to be a bit less heavy-handed. I do not want to use the Biblical narratives as the core of my plots, nor do I want my works to come across as a form of thinly-veiled apologetics. My hope is that the ways my faith influences my worldview will come out in the types of stories I tell and the style in which I tell them–speaking to the human condition as I understand it without making the story an argument of faith.
I have lofty goals, as fantasy writers should; it will be for readers to judge how well I achieve those goals. Foremost must be the telling of great stories that delight and inspire the reader to think about life and existence. Along with this is the desire to participate in that ephemeral but satisfying practice of mythopoeia.
I am not an artist by any means, although my latest pursuits in world-building have given me the desire to become one. I’ve acquired a small Wacom tablet, some decent drawing pencils, an artist’s sketchbook, a subscription to an online drawing class and several instructional books. As my first significant effort, I’ve created the above hand-drawn map of the area of Avar Narn where most of my stories for the foreseeable future will take place. It’s not bad as a first attempt, though it could be much better and I learned a lot while doing it.
I’ll likely be posting more about Avar Narn soon, along with the promised short stories. For now though, I hope this map takes you back to your childhood, looking at the maps in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, or those of other fantasy stories, in wonder and excitement. It does me.