For today’s post it’s a tale of two festivals. One fictional, a bit of lore surrounding a festival in the world of Quest of Fire. The other a real life one coming this year. Feel free to read on about one or both. The WVBF header is about the real world festival and Solaris is the fictional one:
Just before the Summer Solstice each year, the Libertian city of Falconcleft holds the Solaris Festival. The passage above gives a bit of insight into the festival’s significance in Anargen’s day. By then Solaris had become an integral part of Libertias’s social life. Tournaments, feasts, entertainment, and a host of other merrymaking events coincided with it. The origins of the festival were much humbler.
Sixty-two years earlier, Vellan, Falconcleft’s Count, was saddled with the task of organizing a welcome for the Baron of the Dag Votere and his family. The Dag Votere’s nation was at the height of its power and bordered Falconcleft. As the capital of the farthest north county in Libertias, Falconcleft needed to safeguard its precarious position as a means of survival. Vellan was given two days to prepare for the Baron’s arrival and was aware that it was customary to offer a gift to a noble of superior rank on first meeting. Falconcleft’s coffers were all but empty from building of new towers on the clifftop and hiring bands of mercenaries to deter incursions from the rising spectre of Knorland to the East of the Dag Votere.
There was little use in seeking support from the rest of Libertias. Even if messengers could have come and gone in time, Libertias as a whole was on edge. Privateer activity had increased and the likelihood of a new war against Ecthelowall was growing. Even the closest ally and influential Stormridge was struggling with court intrigues and plots from the shadows.
Added to it all, Vellan was a poor diplomat and generally droll. He had climbed to his station for his skills with defensive battle tactics. With a day left he had organized a tournament for sport, but it lacked a uniqueness that would suitably impress his guests. The morning before his guests arrived the Baron was drowning his sorrows in his hall. At best the Viscount of Libertias would force him to vacate his title. At worst, he would incense the Dag Votere and be caught between hostile forces of both the Dag Votere and Knorland. About this time his son came in from roving the forests around the city and presented him with a round red-orange fruit. Long held poisonous, his son was too young to understand what she was presenting him. Certain he was ruined, he took the wild fruit and devoured it.
Stunned by the sweetness and abundance of juice in it, Vellan immediately ordered that as much be harvested as could be found and used to prepare pastries and drinks. He asked his daughter what she wanted to call them. She suggested sunfruit, because they grew ripe in full sun around the summer solstice each year and had a glossy skin that shone more yellow-orange when in full light and darked to ruddier hues indoors.
The next day when the Baron and his family arrived, Vellan declared the first Solaris festival to be in honor of the Baron and his people. Vellan wasn’t aware the Dag Votere were known as “Guardians of the Day” nor that the sun was of particular significance in their symbology and culture. Though modest and hastily arranged, the festival was an overwhelming success and through it Falconcleft was granted special trade privileges with the Dag Votere. In time the festival and Falconcleft became more important. So important that when Count Eidolon was assessing means of expanding his influence, he found Falconcleft and its beautiful future countess, Fiona, as appealing as the sunfruits which grew there. A dark alliance formed, one which Anargen and his friends stumbled upon in Shadows at Nighfall.
I’m really excited to share that I got confirmation that I will have a booth at the 2022 West Virginia Book Festival! Lord willing, this will be the first time there’s been an in person festival since 2019. The WVBF has been really special to me for some time. During trips home from WVU, I would see billboards for it and daydream about getting to go and maybe, possibly, someday be one of the authors talking about the craft of writing, discussing books, and sharing my books with fellow readers.
In 2015, I got my chance to join in. I had my first book, Destitutio Quod Remissio, with me and got to set up a booth and meet so many interesting people. I gave out book scrolls and candy Bibles to help people remember the debut author with an ancient Roman story of betrayal and forgiveness. I also had a couple signs promising new things on the horizon. Among them sample chapters from a dystopian sci-fi story I had in the works called Day Moon and an epic fantasy book called The Gathering Dark.
Those of you who already know my books will recognize those as the start to each of my two series. Two years later, I got to share Day Moon with readers at the fair and in 2019 I had the privilege of giving a world-building workshop centered around dystopian literature while debuting The Gathering Dark. Then, in 2021, I got to do another workshop, this time virtual, on world-building discussing story-telling across different time periods, based on my experiences with Day Moon and The Gathering Dark.
For me the WV Book Festival is a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come as a writer. An opportunity to meet new readers and share the stories I’ve loved discovering with them. Most of all it’s a tremendous reminder about how blessed I am to be able to write the stories the Lord puts on my heart. Though I’m not a headliner of any of the festivals I’ve been to, every one has been a gift, an affirmation, and source of incredible excitement for me. I hope to see you there!
UP NEXT WEEK: STARCROSSED LOVERS