I was looking over my map of Weslande (my fantasy world I’m building around the story of I, Godslayer) and I saw that I had made a massive cathedral made of crystal in the middle of a vast desert. I was sort of surprised (I don’t remember doing it, but I make so many maps I wouldn’t be surprised if I did it while half-asleep) and started thinking about other maps I’ve made over the years. Since I’m a pack rat with regards to notebooks and such (I have almost 80 notebooks with random story ideas, notes, city designs, etc), I figured I’d go check to see how many maps have some sort of crystalline cathedral mentioned. When I got done going through them all, uh… yeah.
Every. Single. One.
Wow. Talk about commitment.
But then I started thinking about my childhood, and what influences subtly guided me to add some sort of cathedral like this. It was pretty obvious in hindsight.
Growing up in group homes, I never had a sort of geographical or architectural “anchor” to a place. 26 groups homes in 7 years will do that to you. But while I bounced around from home to home, there was one home I usually ended back at (albeit for a brief time only). I think I ended up there about 10 times. It was also my first ever “group home”, a place that was (once) called The Albert Sitton Home (funny story: when I first arrived there, I was confused and wasn’t sure what was going on (I’d been yanked from school). When the intake staff told me the name of the place, I got upset. I said “You mean all you do here is sit?!” I was a very literal sort of kid). I don’t remember much about the place the first time I was there except that it was the first time I was really fed well. I also remember being able to look out my dorm window and seeing, faintly, this large glowing tower with a blinking light on top of it.
For a kid who was seriously messed up in the head and nobody offering any sort of explanation (I knew what had happened, and how bad it had hurt, but I thought it happened to every kid and didn’t quite grasp why I was being punished… as I said, things were really messed up back then), this grand tower in the distance offered… an escape? It’s hard to explain. So I dreamed of living on top of the tower and eating whatever I wanted. I could play with whatever toys I wanted and not have them taken away by the other kids and broken. I could play in the sand with little toy soldiers and not have a bunch of vatos pour gasoline on my face because they were bored and the white-looking kid was an easy target.
Basically, I could be safe.
But a funny thing happened as I grew older. I went to another group home, then somewhere else, then went back to Albert Sitton Home. Only now it was the Orangewood Children’s Home, and I couldn’t see the tower from the new building. I could still see the glowing light, which I knew was now a warning light for planes and helicopters. The tower actually had a real name as well (the Crystal Cathedral), but it still held that magical allure for me. That tower always seems to be in land I base a story in (whether I mention it or not) and it always is a place of sanctuary, no matter what I call it or think of it.
I have other influences which color my writings as well (not everyone who is nice to the good guy is a good guy, for example), but the cathedral is by far the most influential.