Sunday, August 1, 2010

Onward to Shambhala!

Mwah ha ha ha! More mythical lands to ravage! Last time, it was Kukayne (aka Cockaigne), which I had set under the rule of Mother Goose and her order of weregoose nuns, which got invaded by the goblins. This time it will be the fabled Buddhist "Pure Land" I'm gonna mess with (along with Shangri-La, while I'm at it.)

Actually, this is a side-step from the main "Salt Gang Chronicles" sequence. I had two new characters which I planned to introduce in story 7 or 8 (I know, I know, I haven't even written number 6 yet!), but had no clue about their backgrounds. Then it came to me they they were a romantically bonded couple, and that they came out of this romance plot (hey, I've always wanted to write a romance), and the details slowly solidified. By which I mean, a bunch of cliches accrued in the rough outline I'm scribbling in my notebook. The love triangle! The evil-but-handsome prince! The good-hearted monster framed for murder! Revenge! Misunderstandings! The bastard half-brother of the prince who turns out to be just as evil! The political prisoner/revolutionary! But I didn't know where exactly it was set, except that it should be a kingdom connected to, but hidden from, the ordinary world.

And then it came to me that it was obviously Shambhala! I can set it without much trouble in the geographical region I want (roughly speaking, in the mountains between China and India, well, probably in the western Kunlun range on the edge of Tibet). I still have to come up with names for the characters. Looks like I'm gonna end up mutilating bits of traditional Sanskrit and Tibetan words/names. Ah ha ha ha ha! (It's either that, or continue referring to people as V, W, X, Y, Z, etc. as I do in my preliminary notes.) And of course my Shambhala will not exactly be such a holy place... the inhabitants will be more highly magical than those of the outside world, and in the past they did come out and meddle with Tibetan (and others in the area) politics/religion, but the Shambhalans are as corrupt as anyone... And it looks like Time is going to be an element here again. Cycles! Periodic blah! Mandalas!

Looking into it...there's tons of interesting small kingdoms that existed all over Asia that I never learned about in school. It's a pity! The world is so big, and history so long, compared to the size of textbooks and school hours. I come across them here and there and wish I knew more. (For example, I never heard of the kingdom of Dali until I started reading Jin Yong's books. Now I want to visit it...must have some cool historical sites there!) So yeah. I'm gonna make up my own version of a small secluded magical kingdom. The problem now is that it feels like it'll take at least a whole novel to do this...hrm...yeah. I dunno. Start it now? Or use this as my NaNo writing project and write the next two Salt Gang stories first? I've been doing them in order so far. I suppose I shouldn't let myself get distracted. But I do want to write this one sometime!

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