Sunday, January 18, 2015

Realm Explorers Part XXXIII: Visit Westering with Lynne Pearl

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

(Note: the three landscape paintings below were created by Catherine Whitehead, the same artist who designed the book cover.  The scenes they depict helped inspire Lynne Pearl in her writing of this book.)

Author’s name: Lynne Pearl

Title of book and/or series: Thiel: One Foot in Front of the Other (this is Book 1 in the Thiel series)

Brief summary of the story: 
On the death of Narn, Thiel's beloved grandmother, Thiel leaves his rural home with his sole companion, a dog, to find his secret inheritance. Unable to read, mostly inarticulate and considered of little use by his fellow men, he carries Narn's letter to a lawyer in the impoverished and corrupt city of Goneton. Given a key to Narn's original home, he travels miles from his birthplace, meeting new companions along the way, including a wild pony and an abandoned child.

In a world similar to our own, Lynne Pearl vividly describes a time of crisis in an imagined past where rural idyll is clashing with the march of industrial modernity. In this gentle coming-of-age tale, an unlikely hero embarks on a journey of self discovery.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story: 
Westering is a world similar to our own but with some significant differences: the rituals, the marked distinction between rural and city life, the use of animals alongside the use of developed technologies.  There are also poorly understood fertility problems with rural populations struggling to replenish their numbers. These difficulties producing offspring exacerbate some of the existing negative practices and attitudes towards disability and health.

If we were to visit Westering as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there? 
I would suggest the coast and the moorlands' standing stones, despite local superstitions about the stones and these empty places.

What dangers should we avoid in Westering? 
The overcrowding and the lack of care and nutrition in the cities.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Westering? 
Food in rural Westering is humble and rustic: slow-cooked stews of meat and vegetables; butter and cheese made by a neighbouring farmer; porridges made with local grain; homemade loaves of bread. However, the impoverished areas in the cities eat poorly while the elite eat richly.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Westering? 
There is weaponry but not much is made of it. It would be rather ordinary such as swords and the use of horses in skirmishes.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Westering? 
Foot, horse, pony, donkey, cart, or ship.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Westering that we don’t see on Earth? 
There are the same plants as on Earth but the animals are more attuned to the moods and feelings of the humans. The human races are the same but with the difference that they can have special latent abilities.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Westering?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used. 
No magic, little supernatural influence.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Westering? If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples. 
Technology in Westering is modest, for example  preserving fruits and produce, making pottery and smithing metalwork of great delicacy and intricacy. In Book 2 we find that the elites of the city of Goneton would like to use the smiths' metalwork to make a machine, but its use is not revealed to the reader.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Westering. 
Not described in great detail, although the people enjoy telling stories and singing folk songs.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Westering as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there? 
The days and weeks are not the same as on Earth but they are not delineated as part of the storyline. They are an implicit and unstated backdrop.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Westering?  Please describe what it involves. 
There is a rural folk religion that makes great use of song as well as imagery, flowers and animals. For example, the ceremony of Narn's Passing involves a singing procession of villagers following behind Thiel's family. They travel together from their homes to the village Song Hall and there they offer what flowers they could find in remembrance of Thiel's grandmother.

What is the political or government structure in Westering?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she? 
The political structure varies from area to area.  In the city there is a committee and there is some kind of implicit political process but it is not integral to the story line in the first Thiel book.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Westering? 
Participation in group song occurs at many occasions, both happy and sad, and also as part of more mundane camaraderie.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book? 
The landscapes of Westering are inspired by Southwest England, especially the villages and moors of Devon and the South Cornish coast. The cool, wintery climate as Thiel travels across Westering is inspired by the Canadian winter, particularly the deep soft snowfalls of Ontario. Non-fiction material on these landscapes is also captured in a number of poetry volumes by Lynne, the first of which is Road Trip, River Voices: Canada Liminal.

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book? 
The abilities and rights of disabled people and how to integrate them into society (or not) are central themes in this book. Thiel himself is physically and mentally disabled and neglected by his parents which exacerbates his social anxiety. Secondly, on his journey through a village with different customs to his own, Thiel finds a child abandoned to die in the street because she has a physical deformity (her spine is malformed but she is otherwise fine). Thiel rescues the child and becomes her guardian, helping him to mature into a man. 

Author Autobiography: 

Lynne Pearl is an author and poet inspired by the people and geography of England and Canada. She lives in the Westcountry of England and divides her time between the coast, the moor and visits to Ontario, Canada. Favourite places include the Donkey Sanctuary in the Westcountry and the Thousand Islands in Ontario. Her literary career started in academia, writing and reviewing textbooks and journal articles. Favourite authors include Elizabeth Goudge and Robert Bly. She mainly uses Facebook to look at pictures of her children.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  
Thiel: One Foot in Front of the Other is available for your Kindle from Amazon.
Where can readers connect with you online? 
Readers can connect on facebook, twitter, our website or by e-mail. These are managed by Sophie Gifford at Snell Publishers on Lynne's behalf. 

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Westering.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the fantasy world of Kingsley, in Realm Explorers Part XXXIV!
-Annie Douglass Lima

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