Five Auralia’s Colors Confessions: “The Merchant’s Daughter”

Five Auralia’s Colors Confessions: “The Merchant’s Daughter” December 1, 2009

Run for your lives! It’s…

The Top 5 Confessions about Auralia’s Colors, Chapter 4 – The Merchant’s Daughter

I still have my collection of 1977 Star Wars action figures. But what I really wanted when I was a kid did not actually exist until I was an adult: Lord of the Rings action figures! I’m a little embarrassed to admit how many of those now stand in my writing room, but I do enjoy walking in and seeing Boromir making his last stand on my windowsill.

Thus, this chapter’s flashback to the days of Prince Cal-raven’s childhood reveals that the boy had a thing for action figures. Except, he makes them on his own. Later, readers will discover that he, too, has become an adult who can’t let go of his toys.

Queen Jaralaine gives me nightmares. I have no idea who I would cast to play her. Tilda Swinton, around the time she made Orlando, would have been excellent, but now she’s known as Narnia’s White Witch. Read the description in this chapter and let me know what you think. Nicole Kidman?

Parts of Chapter 4 play like a preview of the upcoming book, Raven’s Ladder. Queen Jaralaine rants about the wealth of House Bel Amica, which flourishes far away on the west coast of the Expanse. She wants House Abascar to be richer and more dazzling than that. Chaos ensues.

In Raven’s Ladder, you’ll walk the streets of Bel Amica and see what impressed her so much. You may also figure out what real-world tourist attraction inspired Bel Amica’s busy street life.

It’s tough to write almost a full chapter in flashback. Where other chapters are very much like their first drafts, this was one of the very last to find its shape.

Just last week, I was asked again if Queen Jaralaine’s wicked proclamation was based on any real-world events or political endeavors. And again I answered, “No, not really.”

What compelled me to spend so many years imagining a culture in which colors become illegal? Can’t say.

It might have something to do with having so many artists among my friends and acquaintances. I see how they suffer when they have to put their personal visions on hold in order to pay the bills. They invest their creativity in propaganda and advertising and “corporate art,” or they leave creativity behind and take on tedious jobs. (I edited legal documents about property lines for several years while I dreamed of writing novels.) Maybe this chapter may have been influenced by the restrictions and compromises I’ve seen imposed on artists who might have given the world something beautiful from their own imaginations.

But no, it’s not that simple. I can guess at all kinds of things that inspired the events of this chapter.

I wrote it soon after seeing five — five! — marriages in my community collapse. I suspect that those events may have fueled my impulse to write about a love story, and about the destruction that takes place when it falls apart.

You can order Auralia’s Colors at Barnes and Noble, Eighth Day Books, Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company, or the independent bookstore nearest you.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!