Art supplies, tracing paper, atlases, and the trusty laptop commandeered my kitchen table as I exercised cartographic muscles I didn't realize that I possessed. My husband took one look at the mess and said, "So, let me understand this: you are using a map of places that DO exist in order to construct a map of a place that DOES NOT exist?"
And that, my friends, is essentially what I've done with Woerld from the beginning. I am giving you your world back to you--regurgitated in a different form--maybe better in some ways, maybe worse, but it is an alternative world/Woerld of my imagination. However, in order to do that, I wanted to build upon the familiar.
I talked about it in another post that I wrote sometime ago when a reviewer, who wasn't very linguistically savvy, intimated that I made up the the word "Woerld" because "woe" constituted the first three letters. Woerld, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a medieval spelling of the word "world."
The word inspires the familiar. The spelling throws a twist into an otherwise known factor. Most readers got the twists and turns in Miserere, others focused primarily on the familiar.
Michael C. Hayes, in his superb cover art, picked up on the familiarity of the Templars as Christian knights. Hayes projected his thoughts onto the cross on Lucian's chest (and on the swords and other insignia in the cover art), which is a Templar cross. There was nothing wrong with this at all, by the way. I'm just using Hayes' art to show you how we all project our own experiences into the stories that we read.
The cross, Templar or otherwise, is not the Citadel's emblem. The Citadel's emblem is the alpha and omega combined to create an overlapping image. This was also deliberate on my part.
I could have used a crucifix, which is symbolic of the passion, or a resurrection cross, which is symbolic of the eternal life thereafter, or even the Templars' cross, which Hayes favored. Instead, I chose a symbol used most often on scholarly publications--the alpha and the omega. I always saw my bastions, all of them, as being much more like universities.
The focus on the Christians and the Citadel was due to Lucian and his biography. The time period and location of Lucian's birth would have made him an Eastern Orthodox Christian. A lot of people confused Eastern Orthodox with Catholic, and part of that was my fault. In creating the Citadel's rites and rituals, I went back to many early forms of Christianity that predated the schism between the east and the west. While I tried to remain true to Eastern Orthodox rites, it is, frankly, hard to beat out the Roman Catholics for flash and glamor--hence the exorcism performed in Miserere is Roman Catholic.
Unfortunately, Miserere experienced something of a Christian-anathema, and this attitude created a backlash that I wasn't prepared for--not just among fans but among a few other fantasy authors as well. For a while, I was mistaken for a Christian fiction writer, even though Miserere can in no way be categorized as Christian fiction. People who attempt to pass Miserere off as Christian fiction do not fully understand the Christian fiction market--or Christianity, for that matter.
Fortunately, a lot of fantasy authors have praised the book. I've even had atheists tell me that they've enjoyed the story, because it is not about religion but about people. When people read Miserere, some of them remark that they see the romance, others see an epic story, while others see only the religion. What they see is a reflection of themselves in the world that I created.
If you had asked me, last year this time, if I was going to write any other novels set in Woerld, I would have said no. Never.
However, a lot of people are asking for a second book--enough people are asking that I intend to work on Dolorosa. I'm curious what they will see this time. I am not afraid of those who misunderstand my intent. Those kinds of people only see reflections of themselves and their own prejudices in everything.
I've made a map of Woerld and am working with a friend to bring it to life. Like everything else in Woerld, it will be a familiar reflection of what is here on earth. Once I have acclimated you to Woerld and its hierarchies and bastions and places, I want you to get ready, because in Dolorosa, we are going to Hell ...