The Shadowood is the Shadowraith’s home in my YA romantic fantasy, The Liar’s Crown.
I’m very visual when I write. To create the Shadowood, I initially took inspiration from the tree house village in the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner. It is a safe haven, and yet roughly built out of necessity rather than for beauty, with protection and defense in mind. I landed on that example of a village in the trees in particular, because I knew I was going to set a big fight scene in the Shadowood.
I wanted the Shadowood to be more established than the Robin Hood version, yet still simple–not nearly as intricate and fancy as say the Elven realm of Lothlórien from Lord of the Rings. I also wanted the structures built around the trunks of the trees with winding stairs, rather than in the branches, and with several tiers of buildings stacked up each tree, which meant the trees themselves needed to be broad and tall.
For that, my inspiration came from the giant Sequoia and Redwood trees in northern California where I used to live. They are awe inspiring to walk through, making one feel small and insignificant, and in wonder of what those trees have seen in their lifespan.
We’ve seen tree house villages before in fiction, so from there I had a blast making it my own and fitting it into my world. Various elements–the way the a veil of shadow protects it, the fact that this temperate place is hidden in the icy dominion of Tyndra, the defensive/protective features built into everything, and more, all developed organically while my heroine explored as the book progressed to the fight at the end.
Here’s a small look at what I ended up with…
EXCERPT – MEREN’S FIRST SIGHT OF THE SHADOWOOD
This is like no house I’ve seen before. Sure, there’s a feather mattress on the floor and clothing laid across it. There’s also a chair in the corner, even a basic rack with more hanging clothes in various muted colors—browns and greens and blues—set against one wall. What makes it unusual is the view. I can’t quite figure it out. There is a large, glassless window to my right covered with a white-furred animal skin, which is currently pulled back to show the outside. Are we floating high up in massive trees?
No, not floating. I can see that by the way my own room is constructed. The wall to my right isn’t wood planks but the huge trunk of a tree, curved and covered in rust-red bark. This structure is built into the tree itself. Those winding stairs must’ve circled the trunk to get us up here.
I look out the window again at the forest beyond. The trees look similar to the pines in Wildernyss but so much more. Massively bigger. And the smell is different, still piney but sweeter, milder. Refreshing. This is not the land of death and decay I was semi-expecting Reven to take me to. Different from Wildernyss, these trees have leaves. Flat and green. Green. In Tyndra—the dominion of ice and snow in the middle of an endless winter, green-leafed trees are thriving.
How is any of this even possible?
READ THE LIAR’S CROWN
Do you think we’ll see the Shadowood again in The Stolen Throne???
I’m very visual when I read. This is truly beautiful and will give me a baseline for my vivid imagination. Which is very cool, so, thanks!