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Interview Jeanette O’Hagan

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For this week’s Feature Friday Futures Jeanette O’Hagan returns to tell us about her Akrad’s Legacy Series Akrad’s Children and Rasel’s Song.


Can you describe your world or setting?

The Akrad Legacy series is set in Tamra, one the Five Lands and part of a southern continental mass on an earth-like planet, Nardva. This is a fantasy world with shapeshifters and other wielders of mystical gifts and mythical creatures like the koraktil, though the vast majority of the people and animals are not magic users.

How did you build this concept, what research did you do?

The world took shape over many years, developing in complexity and scope as I imagined the exploits, relationships and challenges of different characters, starting with Agwynallen when I was eight or nine years old.

I’ve researched geographical land forms, weather and climate, how far and fast people and horses can travel, the phases of the moon (there are two in Nardva), sailing craft, fighting techniques, architecture, marriage costumes, poisons, underground caverns, and whatever else my various characters and world needs at the time.

Why did you choose this setting?

Most of the early stories I imagined were set in the northern hemisphere, but many years ago I had a lucid dream of a young girl holding a lantern near a fountain, at night. That became a book, the book became an idea for a series and I decided to set those stories in the southern hemisphere of Nardva.

What’s unique about your world?

I can think of four possibilities. Firstly, Nardva has two moons (not in itself unusual ins spec fic) but, in a reckless moment, I decided any descriptions of the different phases of the moons should be correct over time. That means, if I change the timeline in my draft, I also need to shift the moon phases to match. For that reason, I had to axe “the crescent of Argenti hanging like a silver reed boat in the western sky” because Argenti would be a half moon, not a crescent at that time. Keeping track is quite complicated and I suspect, I’m the only one who notices the difference.

Secondly, my primary shapeshifters, the Adelphi or Forest Folk—who are of flesh, blood and bone—can become more than one form once they’ve taken the time to study and understand deeply the animal’s nature.

Thirdly, the history of Nardva stretches from the mythological to the space age – and I’ve written some stories in the Nardva’s future as well as my current two series in its pre-modern past.

Finally, while the Akrad Legacy stories are set in a pre-modern culture, I’ve moved away from a strictly western European-esque temperate setting. Living closer to the equator, the Tamrin have mid-brown skin tones, though the Nolmec have blue skin, the Rishan green skin (long before such tints became popular) and the Adelphi are silvery-white and slightly luminescent.

How do you explain the science or magic in your world?

The Nardvan universe and its fundamental laws are not unlike our own. In addition, there are supernatural or mystical-type beings – the Maker, the Shadows – and the people are divided into two races – the long-lived Eldar (of which the Adelphi are a subgroup) and the short-lived, younger races (to which the Tamrin belong). Magic arises from inheriting one (or a combination) of the seven gifts, including charisma, healing, foretelling, farspeaking etc. These gifts can be used for good or ill.  Over millennia, they’ve become less common and are strongest in the Eldar.

What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?

Well, in Rasel’s Song, it was the identity of the murderer which I wasn’t sure of until the end of my first draft and which I won’t reveal because – you know – spoilers.

How do you handle the food in your world?

The food (and agriculture) varies in different areas of the world and in different cultures, in part due to climate and differences in vegetation, in part due to way of life. The Darane, who live in caverns beneath the ground (Under the Mountain series), have a restricted diet featuring mushrooms, potatoes, dried algae, water snails etc. The Tamrin grow crops like maize, beans and potatoes along with fruit and vegetables and meat from domestic and hunted animals. The Adelphi are more nomadic, foraging as they follow the seasonal changes, and, by choice, avoid eating higher animals they can shapeshift into.

Do you have a recipe that you could share, maybe one that our readers could try, based on the food in your world?

One food that features in Rasel’s Song is chillied castana nuts.  Combine chilli powder, paprika, avocado oil and salt with castana nuts until evenly coated (Brazil nuts would be a good substitute). Spread the mixture over a tray and bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 mins, shaking twice.

What was the most mundane item that you used that really has cool tech or magic behind it?

The main magic-users in the Akrad’s Legacy series are Adelphi. Their magic is intrinsic and they don’t need artefacts to trigger or strengthen it.  But I do think it’s cool that they can incorporate small objects into their shape change – such as clothes and small tools, especially if organic. Metal is harder, but not impossible. This is handy because they shapeshift often or travel long distances and they don’t have to scramble for clothes or basic items every time they make the change. Even so, they are minimalists rather than hoarders.

What did you include that you wish was real today?

Shapeshifting would be awesome, to be able to fly as an eagle, swim as a dolphin, run like a horse or pounce like a jaguar. Such scenes are brilliant to write 😊

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I’ve currently published two series – the Under the Mountain series (completed) in which the Tamrin only appear briefly – and the Akrad’s Legacy series (first two books), which occurs almost four hundred years later. I’ve also drafted a sci-fi trilogy set in Nardva’s far future based on Project Chameleon (in The Quantum Soul anthology).

Rasel’s Song, the second book in the Akrad’s Legacy series is my most recent release with Lumi’s Allegiance due out later this year. Can I entice you to enter the world of Nardva through one of these book-shaped portals? I hope the journey will give you as much pleasure as I have experienced in writing my characters’ stories in the word of Nardva.