Once I’d built a high level view world, I set about constructing the detail. Although my world is fantastical (in that it’s different to ours), I see it very much like our own, with just a few crucial differences:
- There’s a much slower pace of life, no mobile phones, computers, or even televisions in the way we know them.
- Everywhere is clean and well put together, even the poorer areas (although run down) don’t have rubbish strewn around.
- The cities are majestic and regal, the sun mostly shining and a faint glow seeming to radiate off them; Empire has the feel of a Tuscan idyll but with English architecture.
- The cities seem very serious places on the outside, like Oxford’s colleges, or the city of St Andrews, with the same feeling of powerful, timeless secrets radiating from their seams.
- There is space everywhere, nobody crammed in as is our experience of modern city living and there is greenery all around; trees growing through the cities, and lush farmland and woodland surrounding them.
The concept of energy is as central to the world in The Relic Trilogy as it is to ours. However, the concept of energy is concerned with a finely tuned ecosystem that people help create and consume, not the kind largely dependent on black stuff we dig from the ground. This makes the world cleaner, with no pollution or grime filling the air and clogging the oceans.
Energy is utilised in a number of ways: powering cars and trains as they hover above overgrown roads and tracks, sending radio announcements across the world, creating projections out of thin air, and most interestingly for the story, it’s utilised by individuals during Mind, Body and Spirit pursuits.
I knew I wanted my characters to be extremely human, the kind of people we all meet every day of our lives (albeit a little better looking!). However, like all those people we randomly come across, I also wanted them to have skills and abilities that aren’t always immediately obvious. Although the abilities of my characters are based on our own, I wanted to push the boundaries of what we can do. Some of my characters can feel and see the energy brimming out of others. They interact in ways we can’t. And I wanted to explain those very tangible moments of awkwardness, or awareness, or attraction we have through the lens of our personal energy.
However, in The Relic Trilogy, as in our society, background and social influence have a great deal of sway over success, mindset and how people view the world. I wanted to explore themes such as privilege, the impact of expectation and how (as we very often see in professional athletes and women in business alike), confidence in oneself can change our entire existence. In the same way as there are people in our world who could be great, if they only knew it, the world of The Relic Trilogy has those with significant natural abilities but who are just plain lazy, those who achieve above and beyond what others think they should through persistent hard work, and those who plod through life, happily middle of the road with no obvious contribution to make.
Furthermore, just as in our world, children inherit a mix of characteristics from their parents, including a mix of Mind, Body and Spirit. These characteristics manifest differently every time, making everyone’s combination of skills unique.
But more than anything, I wanted to walk the line of power and knowledge, where corruption and hidden relationships make the world go round. I wanted to recognise that people often don’t care about moral issues when society dictates they should, and that we love the status quo and will hold onto it for as long as we possibly can, before finally and only in the face of no promising alternative, embrace the need for change.
In short, the detail of the world in The Relic Trilogy is much like the detail of ours. The real difference is that people can nudge past the boundaries we set ourselves to achieve things we only wish we could.