Hello darling humans! It has been many a moon since I update you on the progress of Tabula, my epic SciFi novel about climate war, genetic alteration, time travel, war, corruption, hope, and love. Unfortunately, the lack of updates has been a reflection of a lack of writing. The reasons are boring, so let’s skip them, yes? Yes.
What’s not boring is the fact that I’ve moved out of the walled city where much of Tabula will take place and started creating the broader world of which the city is just a part. It’s not a fantasy world, it’s just Australia, but a lot has changed. I’ve been poring over maps of Sydney and the areas around it, to the North as far as Goulburn River National Park, south to the coastal town of Kiami, and as far west as Gunningbland.
Google Maps is very helpful for getting my head around where characters will travel in different parts of the story and how different groups are related geographically. My imagination works better when it has a solid base to build on, so maps are like crack to me at the moment. And crack is like heroin. And heroin is like maps.
The most exciting thing for me was finding a home for the Dactyls, a group of forest-dwelling pacifists who come to play a very important role in Tabula as the story progresses. They will live here, in a fairly large area of Wollemi National Park:
I can’t tell you heaps much about the Dactyls for reasons of spoilers (even that is kind of a spoiler!) but here’s a little about them:
Meanwhile, back in the forest, a group called the Dactyls live. They are very peaceful and, in fact, pacifist to a fault, But they also aren’t a threat to anyone and have little by way of resources, living as they supposedly do in the tops of trees, so they are left well alone.
The only real resource they have is incredible mechanical and engineering skill and a genius for invention. They are renowned for creating helpful devices and tools from things they scrounge in scrap heaps and dumps, but they are not known to possess any stores of them that could be coveted and subsequently raided. They are famous for giving their creations to anyone who need them for free – or for a more-than-fair barter – and doing all manner of repair work for ‘donations’. In other words, they have made themselves far more valuable to everyone as healthy, living allies than as injured or dead prey.
The Dactyls are also famous for their Dionysian parties held at the Summer and Winter solstices. These gatherings, as well as being a Damn Fine Time are also valuable as as neutral ground where business and arms deals can be brokered or negotiated between different outwall groups, as well as various stakeholders from the City.
I’ve also chosen a rough location for the Walled City where Audrey and Sloane live and work. Bombing raids and sea level rises have left Sydney CBD a half-destroyed no-man’s-land, so the metropolis is actually centred around Parramatta.
Looking at all these maps and thinking about the spatiality of my story has got me pretty inspired to get an artist involved at some point to create stylized maps for the *knock on wood* published version of the book. I still remember my dad’s old edition of The Hobbit and its maps, which I spent hours poring over as a child:
Suddenly, the post ends.
Featured image: The Forest Dwellers by Tom Anholt
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