Researching Fantasy

Guest Post by Michael Davies

I didn’t start writing fantasy because of what I’d learn along the way. The research I’ve conducted as I crafted my debut novel “World of Pangea: Path of the Warrior” has been an unexpected and decidedly enjoyable surprise.

How did I decide what to research? I live by a 4 general rules.

  1. I want my novel to be simultaneously fantastical and realistic.
  2. If I am writing a scene and I can’t describe something very well then I need to research it to describe it better.
  3. If I skirt away from something I want to use because I’m afraid it won’t sound realistic then I need to research it better.
  4. If any part of my novel sounds too far fetched, it needs to be researched and re-written.

I kept a document open at all times. In this document I made a list of the research I needed to undertake. Whenever I encountered something problematic I wrote it down and then started reading.

The longbow

PangeaBookArmed with this document I began my adventure. From the moment I decided that Idris used a long bow, research came into play. When did one first have to start training with the weapon? What is the difference between a long bow and a regular bow? How deadly are they?

Did you know that when long bows were at the height of their use, the average archer began training around age 4 and 5? If they didn’t train from such an early age then their muscles never developed well enough to use them consistently and with the necessary accuracy.

Did you know that they were only prevalent in warfare for around 100 years? This time period did of course lead to the famous victories of Crecy and Agincourt.

Did you know that several historians believe if the longbow had been used instead of the musket then the British may have won the American war of Independence?

All of these facts were extremely useful for inserting into my novel at various points and creating a believable protagonist and fantasy world.

Mythology

The World of Pangea creates its own mythology. I know that many fantasy novels have some sort of mythological backdrop but in a similar way to the Belgariad, Pangea’s mythology is woven into the story line and the gods are not behind the scenes but at the forefront of the story.  So I researched Greek mythology and Christian theology.

  • Both have a ‘fallen’ supernatural being. In fact, this is prevalent amongst a great many ancient traditions.
  • Both are dependent on a god or god’s for the continuation of this world.
  • Fallen angels play a part in ancient Christian and Jewish traditions, some writers believed they were the Greek gods of old.

From this I drew some ideas. What if the gods were real? What if there was a race like humanity that existed when our earth was a pangea and the gods walked upon it? How would the various cultures develop? The more I researched the more ideas presented themselves.

So I planted The World of Pangea within the ancient and proven traditions of classic Greek literature and traditional Christianity, combining it with the more modern feel of fantasy thrillers.

None of which was possible without research!Pangea_BookReveal


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Michael was raised in northern England. At age 19 he moved to the U.S.A. and currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife Heather, and their daughter Elianna. Growing up he used to write short stories for his younger brother while immersing himself in the fantasy realms of Middle Earth and Narnia. In college he penned his first idea for a full length novel, one which eventually became Path of the Warrior, the first book in the “World of Pangea” series.

Michael has had news articles and poetry published in several anthologies and magazines over the last decade, including an interview for BBC Manchester over his role with the refugees of Hurricane Katrina.

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