In other words, why I spent hours mapping, researching, and designing Asile. This is the country where Laila was born and the kingdom Eleri will one day rule. So why is it that I spent so much time and energy creating it, if all of Book One is spent somewhere else? Despite it being Eleri’s kingdom, her story remains within the castle walls. It’s simple, because I love it.
Worldbuilding is quite possibly my favourite part of writing YA Fantasy. Designing the magic system, organising the politics and the geography, deciding how big the country was and what surrounded it, were all of huge importance to me. A lot of Laila’s backstory is established in Asile, and it was helpful to be able to literally map and track her movements prior to Book One. However, in all honesty, I have a real thing for all things mystical and celestial. Someone even asked me last night if my series featured anything astronomical, as I showed such interest in celestial objects being the root of Eleri’s power. The truth is, no, it doesn’t. Although I would like to share with you how I designed Asile.
“Imber magicians are based on The Cliffs overlooking Sirens’ Sea”
It became apparent to me that the magic system in Asile was reliant upon the four elements; Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. In order for their society to allocate roles and responsibilities to adult magicians within Asile, they had to know from where a mage (underage magician) drew their power. To do so they conducted what is known as an Awakening ceremony. Once a mage’s power source is identified, they can be sent to that particular area of Asile to use their powers to benefit the general population. An example being Imber magicians are based on The Cliffs overlooking Sirens’ Sea in the West. This is where research and geography became so important. With four elements dominating the power base, I began to think of what other things came in fours that would be relevant. So I settled on the four points of the compass, the four seasons, four main times of day, and the four main phases of the lunar cycle. So it looks a little like so:
Earth, North, Winter, Midnight, New Moon.
Air, East, Spring, Dawn, Waxing.
Fire, South, Summer, Midday, Full Moon.
Water, West, Autumn, Dusk, Waning.
And so the geography came into it. I needed four areas to surround the border that represented each element. So we have the Abelian Forest in the North, the Shadow Mountains in the East, the Picante Desert in the South, and Sirens’ Sea in the West.
“It was relevant to Laila, so it was essential to me.”
It was so much fun to research each aspect of this within elements of Paganism and general geography; and then assigning functions to each area and province within the boundaries of each element. Deciding that medics and farmers lived in the North, the military lived in the East, magicians who were able to withstand great heat and manipulate fire lived on the edge of the Desert, and magicians with the power to subside storms and filter water lived in the West. Thus the ecological systems of Asile were beginning to be built and if I’m honest it just spiralled. None of this was relevant to Book One, but without it I didn’t know half of Laila’s story. It was relevant to her, so it was essential to me.
Hopefully this has given you a good insight into how I built my world and why I created it regardless of it not being in Book One. It is also important to bear in mind that Eleri was born in a different time, one where elemental magic wasn’t as fundamental.
Let me know what you think in the comments and if you have any questions! And don’t forget to check out another sneak preview of Eleri’s Kingdom!