Countries of the Mind, part 1

Kingdom of Gekko EphemeraSome readers will remember Gekko, my imaginary world.  I created it back in 1997 in response to an art call in a rubber-stamping forum on GEnie(Youngsters may not remember the General Electric version of AOL, but it was a lot of fun back in the mid- to late-90s.  There were a lot of creative people who hung out there.)  I didn’t manage to finish the project in time, mostly because I got so carried away with the idea behind it.  I called it “Countries of the Mind” and I created a lot of ephemera which helped to define this world.  The image to the left is A. M. Gnocci, a famous castrato.  I used an engraving of Alexander Pope as the basis for this one.

I drew my own maps in those days, and the one to the right was the very first one I ever created.  At that time, Gekko was only a country, but as I wrote its history it grew very quickly into a continent and then into a world.  It couldn’t have existed in a vacuum.  Its ruling family married outside its borders, its army fought wars, its merchants imported amazing products such as the Sido Fruit de la Contusion (Bruisefruit), a stone fruit which looked awful but tasted heavenly.   Bruisefruit was grown only in Fata Morgana back then.

 

The names I used were all drawn from things I’d read or seen or heard.  Sido, the name of the mother of the author, Colette, became a city in Fata Morgana.  Kladder, the Dutch word for messy or spattered or confused, became a place name: Kladdersee, a body of water in the Arvidian Alps near Hammerklavier.  I was having fun playing with words, enjoying the sheer silliness of creating portmanteau language to describe a faux country.

Even after I ran out of steam on the initial inspiration, and that happened several years and a great deal of creative zeal later, I couldn’t forget Gekko.  Little by little it began to morph into a place where I could set stories; not just silly, jokey stories, but things that were good fiction.  I drew and redrew maps, and finally a few years ago I rewrote a number of the original stories for NaNoWriMo, trying to work them into a book of short stories about an imaginary world that still had no proper name.

In the next post, I’ll talk about how the world has evolved and about some of the stories I’m discovering within it.

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