TOTEH: Letters to Carahil
April 10, 2011
A key component in World Building, in my opinion, is creating the mundane things–the small stuff that makes people who they are. In creating a sci-fi fantasy world, where everything is made-up, possibly new and rather alien, adding in the mundane is key to drawing your readers in and making them feel at home in your unreal world. You want your readers to be comfortable. You want them to stay awhile.
Traditions and customs play heavily into that notion. A regions’ customs and various traditions set it apart from others, make it unique, make it real.On the planet Xandarr, for example, I created the tradition of children writing letters to Carahil. Carahil is Xandarr’s patron god, and he saved the planet from destruction when the Black Hats wanted to wipe it out. They honor him with numerous statues carved all over the planet, particularly in a lush park by the River Torr called 1000 Carahil Park–aptly named as there’s 1000 large and small statues of him rolling around.
In the time since Carahil saved Xandarr, a tradition sprang up where children from all over the planet write Carahil little notes, sort like letters to Santa, asking him for this and that. Some ask him for material things that they’d like to have, others beg for help of some sort, and others just need a friendly shoulder to cry on. They then leave the notes they’ve made at the base of one of his statues tucked in the flippers and hope he hears them. Many times, he does. Carahil is an interactive, approachable little god.It’s a cute tradition, just a splash of color on the page and only takes a few words to lay out, but it helps immeasurably in making the people of Xandarr, who are just figments of my imagination, seem real. A tradition of leaving notes by a god’s statue helps define who these people are, what they want, and what they hope for out of life.
For Book IV, The Machine, I wanted an example of a Letter to Carahil to place into the interior of the book, and I wanted a real “kid” to draw it to make it authentic. So I commissioned four-year old Kailey Hedman, daughter of one my regular artists, Justine Marie Hedman to do the job, and here’s the result–a real live letter to Carahil from a real, live kid.
I wonder if he’s heard it.