In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose – to obey. Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servants; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power. But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming. In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free. And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.
NAONDEL by Maria Turtschaninoff is out this week (on 6th April) and because of how much I enjoyed MARESI, I am super excited to read this prequel! I’m even more excited to have the author on my blog with a guest post on her writing.
Book by book I have been building a fantasy world for the past ten years or so. I had no clear idea of the world when I began, and I still don’t: it reveals itself to me in pieces on a need-to-know basis.
It started with a girl with wild black hair, sitting under a table. I saw her in my mind’s eye when I was working as a museum guard, my most boring job to date. All I could do during the days of patrolling priceless paintings was imagine stuff. And one long, empty Tuesday morning I saw this girl in my imagination. She was mute. Or, she was not physically unable to speak, she just didn’t. I wanted to know why. What would silence a child? She’s the youngest in a large, very poor family, in a harsh environment. When she is born, nobody wants her, she is yet another mouth to feed. And nobody spends any time or care on her. They don’t speak to her. So she never learns to speak.
As I thought about this girl, a log cabin rose around the table she was sitting under. Logs indicate a forest, so I placed the cabin on the outskirts of a village, situated in a large wood. For a while that was enough, but as the story grew, so did the world. Where was this forest? What kind of a country was it? What was the climate like? Who ruled, and why? A city appeared, with a king. A countryside with farmers, a seashore with fishermen. And little by little countries around it started to take shape, too, countries with which my country, Lavora, was at war or did trade with. Suddenly I had a whole world on my hands – even though I had only the vaguest idea of what it looked like. My world is like a 15th century map – full of white areas that are only filled in when I travel to them – i.e. write a story set in that place.
The whole world spread out like ripples that emanated from that mute girl, and her name was Arra, which is also the name of the novel about her. It was published in Swedish in 2009 and in Finnish a year later.
In Arra, there are two short mentions of a nomadic people who herd sheep and have curly-haired little horses. That was all I knew about them when I set out to write the second novel, set in this (as yet unnamed) fantasy world of mine. I didn’t even know that the story was to be set among them, at first. All I had was a scene: a man cuts the hair of a girl. It is a symbolic gesture, full of meaning. But for the longest time I did not know who these two were, what their connection to each other was, what the action meant or where they lived. When I remembered the nomadic people called Akkade in my story Arra things began falling into place. The man is the father of the girl. And by cutting her hair, he is making her his son. Little by little I learned to know more about them, about their customs and habits and beliefs and about the vast, windswept steppe that was their home. The novel Anaché was published in Swedish in 2012 and in Finnish the next year.
This way my (as yet unnamed) fantasy world has grown, story by story. I have written about how Maresi came about elsewhere, but that story, too, started with a simple idea of a location and the voice of a young girl. Book by book the stories and peoples in them become more and more entwined, and in Maresi there are mentions of both Arra and Anaché, even though those stories precede Maresi’s with several hundred years and are set far away.
You can get a copy of Naondel at these links!