This is a guest post from the wonderful Tansy. Her second book, The Shattered City, has in theory been released recently but I’ve not found it yet (grr) 😦 . When she announced that she was going to do a Mighty Slapdash Blog Tour, I had to be a part of it – and since I got to choose her topic, I asked her to discuss the development of Aufleur, her fictional city. It’s one of the aspects I adored in Power and Majesty (the first book).
Aufleur and Rome
So, I fell in love with Rome nearly ten years ago, when an academic scholarship gave the the opportunity to spend a month there, in a little rental flat with my honey. By day, we went hunting statues of Roman imperial women, tramping across cobbled and concreted streets to various museums or archaeological sites. By night we practiced Italian recipes, copied from the restaurants we’d visited, and watched our landlady’s collection of classic Hollywood movies, or episodes of Charmed and Buffy dubbed into Italian.
Charmed is way better in Italian.
We weren’t great tourists. We barely managed to have a conversation with anyone except each other, and we didn’t shop for anything but groceries (and shiny museum books!). But we hovered in a strange, happy bubble together in the middle of an ancient city, ignoring every modern bit (I couldn’t even bring myself to visit an exhibition of my favourite Renaissance artist of all time because omg, mustn’t get distracted!) and choosing just to exist in the ancient and ruined parts of the city. Sadly these were also the bits with the most expensive sandwiches, but we survived. Later, when I began to write the Creature Court, and I needed a city, Rome was there for me. Not the real, actual city (this much became obvious when my poor mother tried to map the place) but am imaginary, dreamlike Rome, with all my favourite bits and features mushed together. Memories of walks on the Palatine and around the baths of Trajan and the Forum, and the Capitolini Musei, and along the river Tiber, and around the Teatro Argentina, swarming with cats (near which we had a lunch so accidentally expensive that we have since compared its cost to every extravagant meal we have bought in the years since) all poured into my strange, fantastical city. When Ashiol walked from Kelpie’s nest all the way to the Gardens of Trajus Alysaundre with his bare feet in Book One, I was there with him.
All this, of course, means that the city is a real thing for me, something I love, so it means something personal to me when I put it
in danger. Most of the characters in my books are either desperate to save the city, or so cynical and beaten down that they are ready to see it fall. They all have some kind of relationship with it – love, or hate, or loyalty, or resentment.
One of the first images I had in my head of Aufleur was a scene of Ashiol, standing in a wreck of a city, watching scars slide and fall off his skin at the same time as the city rebuilt itself around him…. While the scene didn’t entirely survive the final manuscript, I always knew that this would be the key point of my city, that it was damaged and destroyed and beaten every night, but that it would heal itself, brick by brick, when daylight came.
Until, of course, it didn’t any more.
Tansy Rayner Roberts is the author of Power and Majesty (Creature Court Book One) and The Shattered City (Creature Court Book Two, April 2011) with Reign of Beasts (Creature Court Book Three, coming in November 2011) hot on its tail. Her short story collection Love and Romanpunk will be published as part of the Twelfth Planet Press “Twelve Planets” series in May.
This post comes to you as part of Tansy’s Mighty Slapdash Blog Tour, and comes with a cookie fragment of new release The Shattered City:
“You have a city to think of,” he said sharply. “One house shouldn’t matter. It can’t matter.”
“And that’s why you live underground, so you care about nothing?” Velody flared. “How would you feel if it was the palazzo that fell to the skybolts? If the Duchessa didn’t wake up one morning, and you knew exactly why? How many cups of wine would it take to drown that one out?”