My blackpowder fantasy novel Witchy Eye: Flight of the Serpent’s Daughter has been acquired by Toni Weisskopf at Baen. I’m excited about it, and am going to start sharing some of the book’s roots from time to time.
I was reading David Hackett Fisher’s Albion’s Seed. This is a broad and also in-depth study of the main currents of English migration to North America, breaking those migrants down into four: a Puritan stream from south-east England to the Massachusetts Bay; a Cavalier group from the West Country to the Chesapeake; Quakers from the Midlands to the Delaware; and North British Borderers, traveling from the English-Celtic borderlands in northern England and Ireland to Appalachia. Albion’s Seed is an insightful and fascinating book.
To my kids, meanwhile, I was reading a complete collection of the Brothers Grimm’s tales. The more I read, the more I realized that these stories, as I had absorbed them in my own childhood, had shaped my idea of what a fairy tale setting (or a fantasy setting) should be. Since the tales’ setting was the early modern Holy Roman Empire, with its maze of overlapping authorities, dense network of loyalties, and multi-ethnic polity spread over many lands and more or less united under a single Emperor, I conceived the idea of writing a fantasy novel in the Holy Roman Empire.
So I girded myself to read about the Reformation and the Thirty Years War and the Hapsburgs. But before I could start, I got my second root idea… that I could write a novel set in an early America, reshaped in the mold of the Holy Roman Empire.
Behold Witchy Eye. The year is 1815. The Empress Mad Hannah Penn, after long years in seclusion, has died. Her brother Thomas has been raised to the imperial throne by the College of Electors. And in Nashville, a talented young hexer named Sarah Calhoun takes her father’s tobacco crop to the fair…