One of the most obvious things to influence Of the North was my getting into the SCA. It’s an entirely new world with so many, many links to an old one. There’s room for thousands of stories. My excited diving into the 11th century in England provided lots of writing material. Time-travel and the SCA and my chosen period all fit together like parts of a puzzle, and Of the North was born.
For quite a long time I’ve wanted to write something involving time-travel. “Travellers From Afar” had it, though not done well at all. Time-travel fit in Of the North, becoming more important than I’d originally thought it would be.
The first piece I wrote that later found its way into Of the North was for quite a while homeless. I had no idea what it was for. It was this writing prompt that started my idea for the plot and all:
Then my writer-friend Jenny, who is also responsible for getting me into the SCA, got me to try NaNoWriMo. I set a low goal (I was doing the young writers’ program), because I was in school, ended up writing 50,000 words anyway without any suffering on the part of my grades, and won my first NaNo. Since I only decided to do it in the last ten days of October, I had to come up with some kind of story quickly, so as not to be lost. I spent a lot of that time finding out who the characters were, and I made a sort of outline of the story, enough that I knew the beginning, the middle, and the end, and trusted I’d get through the rest when I got to it, as the story developed.
The SCA’s bardic tradition had a strong influence on parts of the story. Almost all the chapters are named for either period pieces (such as the well-known “Summer Is I-Cumen In”) or SCAdian songs. The book’s title itself is also the name of a song and a CD of SCA music by Baroness Aneleda Falconbridge. I listened to a lot of music while writing it. During the week of Thanksgiving it was period Christmas music, because I’d gotten to a Christmas in the story and needed to get in the right mood to write a mediaeval Christmas and not anything modern-flavoured. I may or may not have also been spending a lot of time in the basement that weekend, sitting on a buffalo rug and wrapped in a blanket (fur and cloak! You feel much more medieval while writing, and it really helps somehow. . . if you’re weird like me, which you have to be to be doing NaNo in the first place). I listened to this collection of period music, dating from about the 12th century on, quite a bit while writing. My favourite chapter makes many references to the Feast Song by Sir Kenneth MacQuarrie (mka Ken Theriot).
No doubt other things have had an influence on this story without my noticing them yet. Some things become so familiar you stop thinking about them until someone else points out that you copied something from somewhere. I like to think I researched fairly well, though I notice new points that need documenting almost every time I look at it again, which is partly why I’ve gotten hardly anything done on it when I do try to work on revision.