I found a book in a local charity shop over the weekend. It was quite a treasure for a writer: “A Pocket Guide to Superstitions” by Steve Roud. It made me think about how I could develop the social culture of the Otherworld in my novel’s final edit.
I had been thinking about how to develop and resolve a few issues with the Otherworld because the creatures there can live a very long time and yet have lost all knowledge of where the entrances to our human world are. Perhaps it has been so long they have forgotten the exact location and, as a colleague at work suggested, these portals have become more of a myth, lost to time? After all, most the creatures in this book are not the scholarly, writing type. Most of them tend to die early in power plays, too.
Roud’s book, since I started reading it yesterday, has given me a few ideas. He describes superstition being a result of believing luck to be a very real influence on one’s life – both bad and good. I was thinking the creatures in my Otherworld of While I Slept could have superstitions, much more like the old ways of our culture in the UK – refusing to walk under ladders and salting the windows, leaving food out for the fairies…
Here’s a peek into the Otherworld of While I Slept currently…
All manner of Fae creatures, from Piskies and Giants to Succubi and cat spirits, live in a world connected to our own (thus, the Otherworld). This world has towns villages and cities just like our own. One of their major trading posts connects to the Cotswolds, UK. The creatures live within a walled city which is full of large, bedouin style tents.
They have many strange and magical crafts. They can create fabric which has moving, life-like designs. Fabric which spits like fire when you get close but isn’t hot to touch or fabric which sparkles like a jewel but is soft. They also have a black market after dark where they sell, buy and trade the humans that were left in their world when the rifts to our world closed long ago…
These creatures do not have the same morals we do. They have no problems coupling up cross gender or cross species. Their whole culture revolves around power and dominance. Whoever is most violent or scary, generally wins the riches. It is somewhat similar to the courts of Shakespeare, only much more medieval and violence is much closer to the surface, as is sexuality.
Half breeds are looked down upon but not by everyone. Only those who feel the need to feel superior and elite. After all, if those half breeds are as strong as their counterparts, they deserve just as much respect. In a weird way the Otherworld is both more and less equal than our own.
It is an incredibly fun world to write about. Flinging out the mainstays of our morals and culture has been a blast and I think, after this content edit has been handed over, I’m going to enjoy threading in even more new cultural values and superstitions.
It stands to reason, after all, that creatures who live in a world where magical things are real, would have more superstitions and mystical cures (some of which I’m sure would work!) than the rest of us, out here in the bland human world where science is king.