You’re always going to be the creation of where you’re from. For better and for worse, we all have our past, and it will colour your work whether you choose to let it in or not.
I’m from a small nation, among the older ones of all. We’re voting this month on whether to make it official again, for the first time in three hundred years. Ancient follies and rogues long dead led us to a union that ruled the world for much of that time since. We certainly played our full rôle and then some in that global empire. But it died a good old while ago, and so too our sense of greater unity. You’d be hard pressed to see a British flag during this campaign, one which pivots on Scottish self-interest and nothing else. We’re already independent, inside, among ourselves. We’re just choosing whether to make it final, outside, to the wider world.
As if I’ve left you in any doubt already, I’m voting yes. I never needed swaying. The current state of Britain never has made sense to me. Growing up in the 1980s, I remember all too well what the consequences can be when one partner is ten times larger than the other. Ours is no federation. Nor can we easily fake one. The glory days are done. Let’s just be ourselves.
By the kind of coincidence that I only notice now, I set my story three centuries again in the future. I guess even all those years ago, of my own, the symmetry must have appealed to me. One of the two leading families of characters is Scottish, like me, and I always assumed they would be from a nation all its own. Oddly enough, back in 2001 the potential for Scottish independence looked pretty bleak. My story’s assumption seemed more of a wishful thought than a likely projection of the future. Indeed, it may still do in a few weeks, pending fate and election day. In any case, I’m set. The good of picking your own directions, right down to your self.
But my creation isn’t really about Scotland, today or tomorrow. What about Andala?
The other leading family of this tale is none other than Andala’s own: Ayana’s children, the royal house. Like Alexander, we meet Andala the hard way, from the brutal top.
I’m from a little kingdom, nestled in with some others intertwined. So too is the way of my other world. Four peoples live there — the Ana, Azu, Aitiri and Katani — cheek by jowl, as well as out in each one’s hinterland. They’ve something around the size of the Earth to share, so lots of space compared to our own history, yet the way they are and the speed they can move makes for a different kind of relationship. We needed technology to make our globe a smaller place, so we could build our empires. Andala’s peoples did it quite by themselves. Their present is not our past, but another path that simply never could have been for us.
Perhaps someone from a bigger realm wouldn’t see the need for so complex a creation. So goes my sense that this open question of nationhood informs my work. But I shouldn’t congratulate myself on making the most detailed legendarium yet, as mine is of course far from it! Goodness me, I know just how short I am from the good stuff as yet. The languages not least! Rather, I’m wearing my influences out in the open, keen to learn from them in the creative act, as much as hone to them as though my goal. You see, what I’m really up to in Andala, all my writing, and beyond: is my own journey. Just like us all, in every place and time, only mine’s the kind that you can read.