Today we are revisited by Stephanie Barr, here to tell us about another one of her wonderful novels, The Taming of Dracul Morsus.
Can you describe your world or setting?
Yeah, imagine early middle ages, say Charlemagne’s time, only with everyone still worshiping a pantheon. In this case, everyone worships the same (actual gods) pantheon, though some favor one god/goddess or the other. And, yes, I made my own pantheon because it was only a matter of time.
How did you build this concept, what research did you do?
I grew up on Greek mythology so I mostly spot checked this or that aspect. I wasn’t writing the Greek gods but I wanted some definite parallels. I also had to look up some specifics on jaguars, phoenixes and other critters/magical constructs. And parachutes. I also did some more research in Vlad the Impaler and the Nazis tactics. I wanted to make my bad guys bad.
Why did you choose this setting?
I started out with a character (I always do), someone who was abandoned as a babe (as ancient Greeks did) because he was innately magical, then found and raised by a dragon who meets a stubborn girl who doesn’t know the meaning of impossible. Worlds fall out of that. I figured, as powerful as I’d made him, he was going to need a real challenge so I got him mixed up in a war between the gods, something his hermit of a soul would want to avoid at all costs (Enter Xana, the other MC who is determined to jump in despite any special power of her own). I needed an interesting and believable pantheon and included a reference to other planes so my Valkyrie (from a previous story) could make an appearance.
What’s unique about your world?
My gods, despite parallels, are pretty unique. My underworld is a bit different. Dragons and drakes and humans are all created by gods but are in some levels of conflict with each other. There’s Xana. Xana is a unique enough for any world.
How do you explain the science or magic in your world?
In general, magic comes from the gods. Different gods specialize in different type of magics (and have vulnerabilities thereby). The goddess of life, for instance, is weakened in times of war and great death. My mage, for instance, is naturally gifted through the goddess of the earth/nature so he has an affinity/can control creatures and plants. He learned some other magic at the hands of a dragon, but his inherent magic is nature-based. So, there’s some learned magic, some inherent magic and you can be better blessed by gods/goddesses for extra power just like people’s actions can imbue gods or drain them. (Acts of war and vengeance, for instance, empower the God of War just like they weaken the Goddess of life, etc.)
What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?
I never know how to answer this question. I’ve been doing research all my life. I love it. I’m not saying I’m never surprised, but I rarely am by research.
How do you handle the food in your world?
Dracul’s talents make him quite capable as a grower. He raises his own meat and two of his familiars (black panther/jaguar and phoenix) hunt for him. He is not, however, an inspired cook. Fortunately, Xana has a knack. I tend describe foods in general terms rather than specifics, general enough most people can identify with what they’re eating, but broad enough that they can all put their own personal or cultural spin on it and it still fits.
Do you have a recipe that you could share, maybe one that our readers could try, based on the food in your world?
HAHAHAHAHA. No. I’m a decent book, but nothing recipe worthy. And, while I do go into some detail on food, nothing is distinctive enough that it would call for a recipe.
What was the most mundane item that you used that really has cool tech or magic behind it?
The coolest thing is sort of a spoiler. Dracul does some very creative things with ice, however, that I thought clever and useful in fights. His magic manipulates it, but physics is behind how well it works.
What did you include that you wish was real today?
I want his bathing room. I’m sure someone has something like that but *I* want it.
Anything else you would like to share?
Cats, dragons, ravens, panthers, drakes, golems, demons, trolls, grotesques, a gorgon, gods and goddesses, a weapon that can kill immortals, an Valkyrie with strong opinions, humor, romance, adventure, even pathos. I like a little of everything in my stories.
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