Last week I talked about synesthesia and other sources of inspiration. As part of that I touched on some of the literary, as opposed to personal, sources of inspiration for my novels. This time around I thought I’d delve into that topic a bit more deeply. No doubt there will be more posts on it in the future: I put a lot of literature into my books.
The Midnight Land, the first book/miniseries (depending on how you want to look at it) in The Zemnian Series, was inspired by an actual name for Russia, which was frequently called the Midnight Land in older manuscripts, with “midnight” meaning North and “midday” meaning South.
That’s a real picture of an Arctic fox, FYI, or it was until it fell into the clutches of Photoshop
So there’s a “real world” source for The Midnight Land. But it’s also full of literary sources. One that may not be obvious at first glance is Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, which, if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend.
In this comitragic romp through Moscow and Jerusalem, the present-day (meaning the 1930s, when the book was written) scenes in Moscow are full of crazy magic, as Satan and his retinue visit Stalin’s USSR and recruit the beautiful and desperate Margarita to be the Queen of Hell for one night. Meanwhile, the scenes in Jerusalem are, while richly described, for the most part magic-free. Yeshua Ha-Nozri, AKA Jesus of Nazareth, has no obvious supernatural abilities, just keen observational gifts and a strong moral code that makes him seem ridiculous to those around him. I deliberately modeled Slava, the heroine of The Midnight Land, on those qualities. She does occasionally do something “magical,” but 90% of what she achieves is through her non-magical abilities.
Moving on, The Breathing Sea, the next book/miniseries in The Zemnian Series, is the most consciously literary of the three miniseries.
Like her picture, Dasha is very much of the elements and the natural world
I mentioned last time how Dostoevsky and his works, especially The Idiot, were major sources of inspiration. There are several other significant Russian works that serve as recurring motifs in The Breathing Sea, with the most important being Chapter 5 of Eugene Onegin, “In the Ravine” by Chekhov, and the Soviet animation “Hedgehog in the Fog”:
Dasha’s recurring dream/nightmare of being chased by a monstrous creature and running across a narrow bridge is an allusion to Tatyana’s dream in Chapter 5 of Eugene Onegin, while the part of the dream/nightmare where she falls into the river and thinks, “I’m wet through. I’ll drown soon” is a reference to “Hedgehog in the Fog.” And she contains within her a constant tension between her Lipa-nature and her Aksinya-nature from “In the Ravine,” with her repeated encounters with vipers a reminder to her that she can’t run away from her Aksinya-nature, no matter how much she might like to try.
If you’re intrigued you can grab a free preview of The Breathing Sea, plus lots of other epic fantasy, in the Forgotten Empires Giveaway, or read the whole thing for free via KU here.
And since it’s the end of the month it’s time to a do a roundup of August giveaways that are about to end. All of these are a lot of fun, so if you are looking to pick up some more female-oriented epic fantasy, check them out!
Daring Damsels and Warrior Women
Women-led fantasy, scifi, and adventure stories.
Queens, Kings, Nobility, political intrigue: For Queen and Country is for Royalty themed books.
Oh, and if you can tell me what the title of this post refers to, I’ll send you a free e-book of The Midnight Land I or The Breathing Sea I, whichever you prefer!
3 thoughts on “Whose overcoat have we come out from under, anyway? Some of the sources for my novels”
Thanks, Elena, for the look at some of your novel-writing inspirations! And I love the way you reference Dostoevsky’s famous “Overcoat” quote in your headline.
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Thanks! And if you want your free book for correctly identifying the quote, here’s a link to my current ARC: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/scjp3fo5ks
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