My house is about 125 years old, one of the oldest still-standing structures for my American city, but from where I’m writing here in France, that’d be a modern build. I’m traveling with my family for our summer trip and, for comparison, one of the places we visited was the ethereal Mont-Saint-Michele a day after its 1,000th birthday.
Over the course of our time in France, I’m working on some projects, but my focus is on taking in as much as I can. I love my family’s summer trips and this one is especially meaningful as it’s my kids’ first time out of the country of their birth. The food, the language, the cultural norms—it’s all different.
For me as a writer, this kind of change in environment is rich with ideas. As I wrap up The Displacement Duology this summer, I’m going to begin working on a new book in the fall, possibly another series. So far I have a concept and a few character sketches, but there’s a lot to develop over the next six months.
I’ll post some photos from this trip down below, but, first, here’s a few thoughts I’ve gathered that might make their way into that untitled project, a far-future science fiction book across several different geographical points.
- Thousand year old buildings can signify deep world building in a novel. In Game of Thrones, one of the reasons we get a deep sense of the history of Westeros is the immense structures. We know they were built over long periods of time; the history is implicant in the presence of those kinds of buildings.
- Architecture preferences change over time. When it takes generations to build a structure, the end result is often different than what the original designers intended. I saw this at the Chateaux-de-Chambord.
- There are layers to getting things done that the average person doesn’t think of. These kinds of small details enrich worldbuilding. My mother-in-law learned that masons often got paid by the stone, and when the placement of a stone on an immense build was in a more dangerous place, they’d get paid more. To track this, the masons left their symbols on the stones. You can look for these symbols while walking in the abbeys, chateaux, and estates of France.
- The excitement of traveling is offset by loneliness. I don’t think I’m the kind of traveler that could be on the move for years at a time. I need a home and people I know. I’m working on a character that will travel far distances, and have been trying to get into the head of someone who comes to another planet with a mission but has trouble connecting with the people they find there.
- Language is hard. Really hard. I studied French for two years in college and use it about once a year when I travel to Haiti. I feel like I should be more fluent than I am but learning new languages are long-term, often life-long, projects. In science fiction, we get around language challenges with translator devices or some kind of universal common tongue. I’m considering if I want to do that for this book and if I don’t, how I can make things plausible.
- The age of many of the communities I’ve visited challenges my perceived scale of time. I don’t know what I want to say about this yet, but it’s a reminder we’re just blimps on a timeline bigger than we can comprehend, and I’ll have to figure out how to bring that sense to my far-future novel!
Enough musings, here’s the photos!