Creating the Eight Realms|
In 2005, my parents went to Mongolia as volunteer representatives for their church and lived there for over two years. I began to read about the area and hear stories from them, and soon became fascinated with this huge, wild landscape and rich cultural history. One trend I kept coming across was the power that the nomadic Mongolians attributed to songs. Some examples:
The idea of the power of songs stayed with me, and I used that to create the healing songs of the mucker folk in book of a thousand days. From there it felt so natural to infuse the whole story with the resonance of Mongolia. While the Eight Realms is not a true historical setting, I used much of what I learned about medieval Mongolia in the creation of that place. Itís gotten to the point where I now have a hard time remembering which parts are true and which parts I made up! However, there never has been a real place called the Eight Realms. The worship of the eight Ancestors, the term "muckers," the names of the cities, and the singing of songs to heal people are all things I invented. Many cultures have traditions similar to the skinwalkers of this story, and some of the details of Dashti's life were quite real in Mongolia, some still so. The wonderful book Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford, and the stories my parents told helped inspire some of the details of a mucker's life and the culture of The Eight Realms.
Map image copyright 2007 James Noel Smith
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