Sunday, October 8, 2017

Realm Explorers Part CIV: Visit Glynrell with Kristen Stieffel

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. 

Author’s name:
Kristen Stieffel

Title of book and/or series:
Alara’s Call: The Prophet’s Chronicle Book One

Brief summary of the story:
Alara is a young clergywoman whose father, the prime minister, entangles her in his political intrigues. As a result she’s kidnapped by enemy soldiers and winds up at the center of an international conflict in which she prophesies to world leaders—including her father—about how the people of faith are to be governed.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
It’s a secondary fantasy realm loosely modeled after nineteenth-century Europe, with lots of small countries close together, with related royal families.

If we were to visit Alara’s storyworld as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
The southern coasts of Glynrell (Alara’s homeland) and Redíque (where she’s related to the royal family on her mother’s side) have lovely beaches and a mild climate. The western coast of Glynrell, on the other hand, is a rocky coastline. In the north of Glynrell is the Kaesrynne Valley, an idyllic setting known for sheep herding and vineyards.

What dangers should we avoid in Alara’s storyworld?
Glynrell and Redíque are both very safe nations, although highwaymen are not unheard of. The northern nations of Apanumon and Makut are feudal and one does run the risk of running afoul of a feudal lord if one isn’t careful about, for example, where one hunts or harvests wood. Believers need to be particularly wary in these countries, as violence against believers is common.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Alara’s storyworld?
In most places, the cuisine will be very similar to what one might find in Europe or North America. All forms of game, especially venison and wild fowl, are popular in Glynrell. Glynrellans may wish to take care when visiting Makut, as horse meat is commonly eaten there, but Glynrellans have a cultural taboo against eating horse. Another distinction for visitors to be aware of is that although in most nations the midday meal is called lunch or luncheon and the evening meal dinner, in Glynrell the midday meal (usually very hearty) is called dinner and the evening meal (usually very light) is called supper. If a Glynrellan invites you to dinner, you should arrive around noon.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Alara’s storyworld?
Alara’s contemporaries do not have black powder, so there are no firearms. Their main weapons are swords. Glynrellans use both sabers and rapiers, depending on personal preference. Redíquans prefer the rapier, and Makuians the saber. Glynrellan archers tend to use longbows, while Makutians invariably choose the crossbow.

Map by Mary Elizabeth Hall
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel around Alara’s storyworld?
Horses and horse-drawn carriages and wagons are the primary mode of transport in Glynrell and Redíque. In Makut and Apanumon, generally only the nobility own horses. The lower classes go on foot or travel by ox cart.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Alara’s storyworld?
The only supernatural element comes in the form of gifts, such as Alara’s gift of prophecy. There’s also a character who has the gift of healing, and another whose gift I’m not going to give away because spoilers. ;)

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Alara’s storyworld?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
It’s not advanced from our point of view, but within the storyworld, Glynrellans and Redíquans are advanced in their use of indoor plumbing, almost to a twentieth-century level. So a visitor would find the conveniences not quite modern, but still comfortable. In Makut and Apanumon, however, indoor plumbing is found only in the most wealthy homes, and sometimes not even there, as the infrastructure is lacking.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Alara’s storyworld.
Glynrellans are very completive in martial arts, which most children there learn as a matter of course. Hunting is a popular activity, but more for subsistence than sport. Horse racing is popular in Redíque. Rugby is a popular sport across the continent.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Alara’s storyworld as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
I don’t go into a lot of detail about days and months, although I sometimes use phrases like “on the fifteenth,” but I haven’t named the months. In Alara’s faith, the holy days are around the calendar: the solstices and equinoxes, as well as the new moon.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Alara’s storyworld?  Please describe what it involves.
There are two main religions: Telshanism and Kivatanism. Telshanism is a Trinitarian faith worshiping a maternal creator, a paternal counselor, and a feminine redeemer, who collectively are known as the one god, Telshi. A foundational principle of the Telshan faith is that all believers are equal in the eyes of Telshi. Kivatanism is a polytheistic faith with a pantheon that includes gods of war, justice, wisdom, etc. It’s a paternalistic faith in which women are oppressed. Although members of both faiths can be found in all countries, Glynrell and Redíque are predominantly Telshan, while Makut and Apanumon are predominantly Kivatan. A fifth country, Temhain, which is east of Redíque and south of Makut, has a nearly equal mix of the two faiths.

What is the political or government structure in Alara’s storyworld?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leaders are they?
Glynrell is the only country on the continent that is a democracy. The others are all monarchies, though in Redíque the monarch is largely a figurehead, and the principal leader is the prime minister. Makut, Apanumon, and Temhain are all governed by kings who rule with varying degrees of dictatorship.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Alara’s storyworld?
In Kivatan countries, women are forbidden from making eye contact with men.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations in your book?
The aforementioned idyllic Kaesrynne Valley is modeled after the Santa Ynez Valley in California, which is not far from where I grew up in Goleta (a suburb of Santa Barbara).

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I touch on several things, including monarchy vs. democracy and polytheism vs. monotheism, but probably the only one that may be controversial is patriarchy vs. equality, especially regarding my clergywoman heroine. An agent once rejected this story on the basis of that alone.

Author Autobiography:
Kristen Stieffel is a freelance editor specializing in science fiction and fantasy and is associate editor of Havok, a flash fiction magazine focused on the speculative genres. She provides a full range of editorial services and has worked on various projects including business nonfiction and Bible studies, but she is a novelist at heart and has edited novels in many genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket. Kristen is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection and is a Word Weavers International mentor.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.
The Love2Read Love2Write Publishing web page for Alara’s Call contains links to all the major booksellers.

Where can readers connect with you online?
My website is, where readers can find links to all my social media sites.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Glynrell.  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 another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima


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