Last year, Mark Charan Newton introduced us to the Sun Chamber's star (sorry) investigator: Lucan Drakenfeld, who, alongside his ruthlessly efficient friend Leana, managed to stop a series of hideous crimes in the nation of Detrata.
The Drakenfeld series - a fusion of Golden Age detection and modern epic fantasy - now continues with Retribution, in which Drakenfeld and Leana tackle a new case... in a new country. We managed to pull Mark out of his allotment long enough for him to answer a few questions...
Pornokitsch: The action of Retribution moves from the ancient culture of Detrata to the wilder, only recently ‘stabilised’ country of Koton. You’ve mentioned that Detrata was inspired by the Roman Republic; what influences went into developing Koton?
Mark Charan Newton: There were still a handful of Classical influences in Koton, but it was more of a deliberate contrast against those more formal structures. That contrast came from, to borrow from Borodin, those people "In the Steppes of Central Asia". I wondered how it would be if more nomadic cultures were not forced, but encouraged via a ruler to adopt a more Classical culture as their central political philosophy. With that loose inspiration in mind, bits and pieces were grabbed from elsewhere in history, but this was one of those more consciously made-up and/or fantastical peoples. A thought experiment.
PK: How do you create countries with distinct atmosphere and personality while still making them part of the same world?
MCN: That was always part of the plan from the first book, to create those distinct countries, but the answer comes in two parts. The first is that it was more about keeping creativity fresh than anything else. I love creating new cities and new landscapes in particular - it’s part of the fun of being a fantasy writer. That’s what I need to keep me writing, in a sense.