Recently a reviewer described my novel Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) as grimdark. I’ve been calling it epic fantasy, but as it does fit with the grimdark sentiment, I’m embracing it wholeheartedly! So, just what is grimdark?
Much of the action in my epic fantasy Melokai is set in a matriarchal country called Peqkya. The society is ruled by women and women’s interests are valued above the men.
One thousand years before the story takes place, the country was a war-torn, ravaged and frightening place to live – for both the men and the women. A woman, Sybilya, wrenched power from the tyrannical, savage men who then ruled, and the women have maintained control since.
From Melokai story concept through to ‘on sale’ took me one year, four months. It was an intensive time, and in this post I will break down the different stages of planning, writing, production and marketing that led up to publication day on 10th October, 2017.
My original idea for Melokai came when I was trekking in Nepal’s Annapurna Sanctuary and I started to daydream about a country surrounded by mountains and ruled by women. The trek took eleven days up and down, hiking for seven hours on some days, so I spent a lot of time in my head and a story formed.
One of the critical parts to my thinking was about this country (which I named Peqkya) and about the wider world it was situated in. It was important to me that Peqkya was a country which could actually be real, which could survive and function, and wasn’t one dimensional.
Imagining my own races was exciting and creatively satisfying, as was devising my own world, complete with different ecologies and environments. But both required quite a bit of research to make sure my fantasy world and its inhabitants were grounded in some semblance of reality! Here I detail some of the research I did for my epic fantasy novel Melokai.
Wondering how to say Peqkya? Well, here’s a short pronunciation guide for some of the tongue-twister names of characters, peoples and places in my epic fantasy novel Melokai, book one of In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy.
In Melokai, book one of the In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy, life in Peqkya is based on the philosophies of the Stone Prophetess Sybilya. These ten maxims are ingrained in everything a Peqkian does and they each feel the presence of Sybilya within them. Melokai Ramya repeats Sybilya’s Sayings often to herself.
Reading and discussing the epic fantasy novel Melokai by Rosalyn Kelly for your book club? Here are fifteen questions that should help to get the conversation flowing.
1) What were your first impressions of Melokai? Did it hook you from the start or did it take a while to get into?
At the time of Melokai, Ramya is thirty-two years old. Born in Riaow, the capital of Peqkya, she was placed in the pen led by Kafya, as Peqkian custom dictates ‘No baby will ever know it’s parents and no parents will ever know their baby’.
From an early age, Ramya showed great promise as a warrior and entered the profession at age fifteen. She quickly became known as the greatest warrior in Peqkya due to her skill at chariot warfare, multiple opponent combat, and archery, as well as her endless energy and how she never seemed to tire in a fight.
Ramya liked her tongue. She wasn’t ready to give it up, not yet. The Melokai rolled it around her teeth, touched it to the roof of her mouth and brought it down with a satisfying cluck.
She glanced at Chaz. The scholar’s mottled black and white hands cupped his face, his body rocking with the movement of his horse, eyes glazed. They continued through the circular streets of the city in silence, both soon to lose the ability of speech, but neither with anything to say.
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