I’m a sucker for castles in Fantasy stories. I particularly enjoy looking at the many pics all over the internet. (Once again, Google is my bffer.) I’m trying to think of a time when I wrote a Fantasy story that didn’t have at least the mention of a castle and I can only recall one. Technically it was a mansion, not a castle.
What? It counts.
Why the obsession with castles in my Fantasy? I’d have to say it’s because of the sense of history and the unknown you get when you’re roaming the multiple halls and long-forgotten rooms. If only walls could talk right? Imagine some of the stories they could tell of deception, love, intrigue, you name it. Shame I can’t time travel…
Is it cliche to have castles in Fantasy stories? Yeah, probably, but I really don’t care. They add such a fun element to any story. You read about people’s hiding spots where they get away to be alone or where they spy on others. You get to read about the history of the people that lived there and the things they did. You get to witness the running of the kingdom(s) and the castle itself. There are those people out there that may find all of this boring, but I love all these little details. Sometimes, they even turn out to be bigger, more important to the story, than we thought they’d be.
Not all of the castles I write about are inhabited. While I like to think of the lives that have roamed the walls, I also enjoy when the building is abandoned. There’s so much you can do with a castle when it’s not swarming with people day and night. That’s a whole lot of space to play around with, and when nobody’s there to make sure the rules are followed, the possibilities are endless. It can be used as a haunted site–something I stay far away from–a site for secret gatherings, a massive power base–guilty!–or even as a revered landmark. I get chills thinking about all of the things I can do with an uninhabited castle.
Don’t even get me started on the location of castles in Fantasy stories. I know what you’re thinking, you can put anything anywhere you want so why is this such a big deal? It’s more to do with me being interested in how a writer lays out the land. What strategic value does the location provide? (Because at some point in time, there’s going to be a battle at or near the castle. That’s just the way things go.) How was the land obtained to begin with? What type of land surrounds the castle? Is it fields and forests or water? Again, there are so many possibilities, so much you can do with it. I know the same can be said of any structure, but castles are my cup of tea.
Truth time. I soooo want to live in a castle. Is it weird that I wish I was born in the Middle Ages just so I could–hopefully–live or work in a castle? I’m sure it is, but I’m ok with that. Even if all I could do was see the outside of it, I’d probably spend hours every day just staring at it, imagining the people inside going about their everyday lives. This is where time travel would really come in handy. Then I could jump all over history and visit all kinds of castles all over the world. Oh the possibilities…