Spectacles and Tea: Guest Post by Misha Gerrick

Misha's guest posting today!

Let me just slip in a quick ROW80 and CampNaNoWriMo update: The words are flowing! (Of course, I'm woefully behind on blog visits...) I'm only 9,000 words away from meeting my CampNaNo goal, and that's not counting the nearly 1,000 words on a completely separate side project:

A murder mystery jointly written with some of my family. We've been working on it on and off for a while, passing paragraphs back and forth. None of us knows where the story's headed! It's titled The Horror of Horhor, and takes place in 19th Century Constantinople. What sorts of things would you hope to see in a mystery set in that time frame?

Misha's blog tour is for the War of Six Crowns series. The first two books are out now:

The Vanished Knight

The entity living inside Callan's soul orphaned her at age eleven.
By the time she's sixteen, it's ensured her being shunted from one foster family to another.
Her thirteenth foster assignment should be routine. Except... it's not.
A psycho in medieval armor kidnaps her and she ends up in a magical world.
There, she accidentally discovers a secret her parents had kept until the day they died.
Both actually came from this magical world, but left before Callan was born.
To cover their tracks, they'd lied about everything. Even who they really were.
Driven to find out where she comes from, Callan's trapped in a race for life and death.
Walking away isn't an option, but if she stays too long, the entity will find its next victim.
In this world where secrets are sacrosanct and grudges are remembered, finding the truth will be near impossible.
Especially when Callan has her own homicidal little secret to deal with.
One with a taste for destroying her life.

The Heir's Choice

After discovering her parents had kept a whole world secret, Callan races to discover her past.
Not easy to do with an increasingly agitated entity living in her soul.
Going to her long-lost elvish roots should answer all her questions. Instead, she ends up in the middle of a nightmare.
The elves are on the verge of an apocalyptic war. Their enemy, King Aurek of Icaimerith, will only be appeased if Callan marries his heir. It's either her life getting messed up, or an entire country's lives lost. Simple enough, right?
Because when the entity wants the elves blotted out of existence, saving them gets taken to a whole new level of complicated.

Misha Gerrick has been creating stories long before she could write
and is currently going after her dream of making a living as a writer.
If you'd like to see how that's going, you can visit her on her blog,
where she also discusses all things related to writing and publishing.
Or, if you'd just like to know what she's reading and
get updates on what she'll be publishing next (Sorry, no newsletter just yet.):
You can follow her tumblr
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And you can circle her on Google+

Spectacles and Tea

When Deniz mentioned that she's always been interested in landscape and history, it got me thinking about the large part I've let both play in my story.

Partially, I think they feature the way they do because of my love of both. I've always been fascinated by history, and grew up in a country with varying but beautiful landscapes in all directions. I've always enjoyed driving and seeing these wondrous places.

There's more to it than that, though. To me, history and geography both have a huge impact on what's going on in the world I've created. If I say so myself, I think this is the right way to go about it if you want to create a fantasy world that feels real.

The funny thing is that I go out of my way to make it so subtle, people probably won't even notice. In fact, I think I know enough about my world to fill a whole other book series, and that's just the history. Most of this knowledge won't get any special attention in my story, and this actually helps my series feel real. Why?

Spectacles and tea.

Let me explain. In the real world, Europe once launched themselves into the stratosphere economically by the time of the Industrial Revolution. But the thing people don't realize is that it was largely fed by a larger labour population than ever before, simply because people could now work even with age-weakened eye-sight. All this because of...


The invention of which would have taken much longer, had it not been for the fact that at the time, Europeans were more enamored with wine and making it display prettily as they drank. To show off the wines' colours, they needed glass, and someone realized that glass could be a lens.

China, the only empire that had the people power to compete with Europe, couldn't. They were pretty much stuck in the previous century where weakening eye-sight meant retirement. Why? Because their idea of the perfect drink was tea. And their idea of showing off the tea's lovely color was... porcelain. So they didn't bother to make glass and didn't import it (as far as I know). Which meant that no one could look at it and think: Hey, you know what? The distortion in this little spot of glass helps me see better.

As a result of this and obviously quite a lot of similar and larger events that determined China's course, China's only now starting to look like it might catch up to Europe economically. Most people drinking tea never realize all this, and honestly, I wouldn't expect them too. (I just know this because I can't help absorbing strange facts/stories.)

But everything that happened in the past (even glass and porcelain) helped to form the world as it is now. Even if someone doesn't realize it. When it comes to speculative fiction, I think people pick up on the sense that there's much more to a world than what's immediately relevant to the story.

Which makes a world feel even more realistic, and why spec fic writers should know a lot more about their worlds than they let on.

What's your most interesting historical titbit?


S.A. Larsenッ said…
That is so interesting, Misha! I love learning tidbits like this. A tidbit of my own ... ugh, I can't think right now. Must drink more coffee. Great post and congratulations again on the books!
You just proved how much you know about history with that story! All because they drank tea rather than wine.
dolorah said…
Spectacles and Tea; I like that heading. Intriguing. Good luck Misha. Interesting historical tidbit? Well, relative to the wine; Champagne was brewed by accident. A wealthy colonist (I think a colonist) who was a wine and rum maker was having a seasonal party, when it was discovered that some of his newest wine had been accidentally cured in a rum cask had been served to the guests before it was discovered the wine was ruined. The slaves were beaten, of course, but the guests loved the bubbly new wine. What a novelty. The guest requested the anomaly become a regular feature at his parties, and so the mistake turned out quite profitable, not to mention delicious.

Deniz: at least you are writing :)

Denise Covey said…
Hi Deniz! Lovely to see Misha here today. I wish you all the best Misha as you aim to make a living from writing! :-)
Hi Deniz and Misha - I love the idea of writing with family ... the book sounds fun and a good way to regularly connect with family and writers.

Misha - love the way you create your world .. geography and history - always good together ... my tidbit would be that the Romans invented socks .. because of our bitterly cold winters as they sat at Hadrian's Wall wondering about Limes Britannicus ... !!

Cheers to you both - Hilary
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks again for guesting, Misha!

Thanks for dropping by, all.
Ooh, intriguing titbit about Champagne!
Nas said…
Love the post Misha. Interesting and intriguing!
Cherie Reich said…
That's rather fascinating about the spectacles and tea. It makes sense, and I'm glad I didn't live in China around then because I would have retired at the age of eight. LOL! Congrats, Misha!

Good luck with Camp NaNo, Deniz!
Anonymous said…
I've been seeing Misha everywhere. :) I'm liking all her posts.

Happy writing. It's wonderful when the words flow.
Crystal Collier said…
*waves* Hi Misha! You're making the rounds, woman! Way to be EVERYWHERE. *fist pump*
Nick Wilford said…
I love tidbits like that! And I think Misha nailed a pretty good way to make your world feel real. Congrats to her and also on your progress, Deniz!
Interesting bit of information and consequences.
Misha Gerrick said…
Hahaha Sheri, I'm glad you enjoyed my post.

Alex, I'm actually huge on trivia as a whole, and funnily enough, I picked this up in Economics.

Very interesting, Dolorah!

Thanks so much Denise.

Hilary, I love your tidbit on socks. Never heard that one. :-D

Thanks for having me over, Deniz.

Glad you enjoyed it, Nas.

Hahaha Cherie, then it's definitely a good thing that you didn't live in China back then.

Thanks Medeia. I'm glad you're enjoying them.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks everyone!
And thanks again Misha :-)