Having a new book come out is a hugely exciting time and the moment, with a continuing series, where I really have a sense of standing poised between the past and future of the story. Part of that process involves reflecting on the influences that shaped the just-finished book, and whether they will hold the same sway over the next-in-series.
One of the strongest influences on my writing has always been environment – my appreciation of the natural, technological and cultural elements of the surrounding world, with a flow-on to the creation of milieus within my works. This is particularly true of The Gathering of the Lost, where readers will encounter new lands within THE WALL OF NIGHT world, such as the River, Emer, and Aralorn. Imagination certainly counts in fantastic world building, but when writing a great river, for example, it helps to have experienced big river systems, whether the Waikato and Clutha, in my own New Zealand, the Murray in Australia, or the Mississippi in the US. The River in The Gathering of the Lost is not any of those waterways, but I suspect that growing up with the Waikato and the Clutha has helped give it authenticity. I lived close to the Waikato for a considerable period, but did not get to know the Clutha until I was an adult. Yet by then it was already entrenched in the landscape of my imagination—because of family stories and its place in New Zealand’s colonial history of gold mining, as well as its prevalence in photographic and painting art. My own view is that it is not possible to live with a landscape that resonates so powerfully in culture and history and not be influenced by it. After all, even a conscious decision to fight against its sway is still an influence.