I started working on Penumbra in 2002 during a summer trip to Europe. I stayed with a wonderful and generous family who took me with them on their vacation to go camping for three weeks in France. My "woah" moment was while standing on the edge of Glastonbury Lake, one of the family members nudged me and explained exactly where we were. That this was where the Lady of the Lake came out of the water to give Excalibur to Arthur. There was an audible thud, which was the sound of my jaw hitting the ground, as I took that in.
We went on to visit Merlin's tomb, and a local tour guide explained about how that wasn't the real thing, but a tourist attraction. That the real tomb was hidden in the forest, and that no one would ever find it as long as they were looking for it.
After I got back home, I started researching Merlin, and discovered that he wasn't a wizard, but a Druid. Which then led me to research Druidism, both the religion, and the lore of which the ancient Druids practiced their rituals. I learned that they protected a specific place by a type of magic that had the exact effect that tour guide explained. Not being able to find that specific place if one was looking for it. That idea has been used in several places, I later discovered. Harry Potter, Wheel of Time, The Witcher, and plenty of others.
As I started developing Penumbra, I did more research into popular fantasy images that are used in various cultures. I became very curious as to where these images came from. Magical races (elves, dwarves, gnomes, etc), magical creatures (dragons, griffins, basilisks, mermaids, etc), mages/sorcerers/wizards, etc. You get the idea. Dragons are used in all corners of the globe, and the general idea is pretty similar. Giant serpents. There are even dragons referenced in the Bible. Where did they come from?
I also became very curious about what we see when we dream. And I began to wonder if that's where our fantasy images originally came from. I, myself, have had dreams sometimes that are so mundane that they could be confused with everyday life. While others are so fantastic I'm wondering where on earth they could have come from. Even dreams where I was clearly in someone else's body. But why? Where do we go when we see those things? Are we just glimpsing other parallel worlds? Hey, what a great idea for a book!
One fun thing that I learned about magical races was that most of them evolved from Fairy. With Fairy lore, mostly stemming from European stories, encounters always happened in "the between". Just before dawn or just after dusk (between night and day), or at a river's edge (between water and land), etc.
The word Penumbra means, quite literally, "in between light and dark". I picked that name because it was just too perfect. A group of regular young people travel in between parallel worlds, between the seasons (summer solstice), between two days (in 2008, summer solstice fell at 11:58pm).
Since then, it's been a delightful ride as Antarra started to grow and develop, characters bloomed, and pieces started falling into place. Penumbra was originally going to be a one and done book, but it has exploded into so much more.
I wrote this wiki to help readers dive into the world of Antarra. If you missed the huge letters at the top of the page, the wiki will obviously include spoilers from the book. Enjoy!
About The Legend of Terra
The name of the series pokes a little fun at the traditional fantasy. Terra is Latin for Earth, and Antarra is Latin for other. It works well. Our fantasy images are a reality on Antarra, and their fantasies are every day life here on Earth. For the Antarras, our world is the legend.
One question I get asked a lot is: "Do you have an overarching story planned for the whole series?" The answer is: yes, I do.