Another Kind of World-Building

Fantasy writers spend considerable time visualizing the way their fictional worlds look and work. We think about environments, social customs, what people (or creatures) eat and what they wear. As I was putting together costumes for Dragon Con 2015, I realized that actually building a helmet or a weapon was teaching me as much as researching similar items. Reading about these pieces and looking at reference photos only gave me a taste of what it might really be like to own, wear, carry and use such things. Once my builds were complete, I knew for sure what advantages and disadvantages a character would incur by possessing an object. I could immediately see if it would be hot to wear, heavy to carry, restrictive to vision or mobility, or just a bulky nuisance to deal with.

For Dragon Con 2015, I am participating in the parade with a group celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the television program Xena: Warrior Princess. I built, from the boots up, a full ceremonial Amazon costume. While I obviously used tech and materials that Amazons never had (chiefly EVA foam and welding helmet parts), I still had to face the same engineering challenges: how do I secure this mask to my head? — how will my tall boots stay up? — what’s the optimum length for my weapon? The process gave me new insight into equipping characters in City of the Gods.

Amazon ceremonial mask inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess.

Amazon ceremonial mask inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess.

Speaking of City of the Gods, I’m not doing any official events at Dragon Con this year. But, if you run into me be sure to say hello. I’d love to chat with you and you may even get some spoilers about book three, Ambassador. Photos from the con will be posted here in mid-September.


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