Monday, August 5, 2013

Crissendumm: a world inside a world

It is generally an excellent maxim to explain to your readers where a story is set, and what the place is, and if you've made it up, how it differs from any other world. For instance, there's not much sense in setting a book in a different world if it could just as easily happen on Earth. There's also not much sense in making a world that is entirely the same as Earth, just by a different name, because in that case you're simply confusing the reader with useless information, and saddling yourself with tedious, involved world-building. That being said, I suppose it is time to give you a proper introduction to Crissendumm, which is the world in which Jamsie and Richmond find themselves in The Baby. I'll categorize like Jenny did a rather long time ago for her Plenilune so I can cover more topics more effectively. So. Here we go.

Crissendumm and Earth
Crissendumm and Earth are what you might call "parallel universes", except that in this case, Crissendum is like a smaller globe that fits inside our globe and there are portals between the two. As you've often heard, Earth-folk reference this world frequently, only they are prone to spelling it wrong. (Christendom) Crissendumm is the older of the two, or at least feels itself the hands-off observer-protector of our world. The inhabitants are more or less content to leave Earth-folk alone, except when one falls down one of the portals, and then the Earth-person will find himself rather patronized. Crissedumm is the older sibling who seldom takes risks because risks are ridiculous. It is the steady sister, the rocking, wide-bosom'd ship that our world falls back on for wisdom when they're out of their own. "In all Christendom," is a common term heard here, or "What in Christendom?" which is an equally valid term, considering that Crissendumm does things a bit differently than we do here. Accents, language, literature--all are very similar to our England's, with a few additions.

At the time of the events of The Baby, Crissendumm is not far behind in things than Victorian England. At least in the knowledge of things. But in typical older-siblings-who-does-things-better fashion, Crissendumm has kept to many of the "old ways" that have become medieval elsewhere. They absolutely refuse to build railways or use automobiles, for instance, but have clocks and pocket-watches and other paraphernalia. The Castle is rather ancient in design, but the manor-houses in the valley, such as Darrow-Dwelling are quite what you'd find in Derbyshire or any other prosperous county in England. So you see, anything they do not have at the time of the story that England does have is simply a matter of taste, not of lack of invention.

Clothing is, of course, essential. And the inhabitants of Crissendumm move more slowly in their fashion than Earth-folk. The Queen Veronique, for example, wears a little something like this:

//the baby pinterest board//
The gowns are beautiful, elaborate, and made of classically royal materials such as silk, lace, brocade, velvet, etc. At least for the palace women. Women elsewhere are clothed in more or less classic "women's clothing" which ends up looking rather more Victorian than the royal people. Dresses like this are popular among the younger women, as well as skirts and blouses, shawls, and aprons:

 They are not much given to wearing hats unless they are caps, and those only among the middle-aged, married women. The men almost never wear hats, unless they are porters, post-men, etc. In general, the men go for strong looks of leather and metal and other things like that. Knee-boots, gloves, belts, and daggers are all common wear. They like facial hair well enough, especially in the case of Lord Darron Ap-Brainard who is characterized by his wealth of dark, unruly hair on his head and face. We don't particularly think that attractive, but he will wear it that way.

The prime religion of Crissendumm is Christianity, though whether Protestant or Catholic never quite has been stated. The monks at Whiskin's Abbey are involved closely enough with the government of Crissendumm, Brother Aristophenes in particular serving as Lord High Chancellor to the queen, but otherwise there is very little religious tension between denominations.
The monks are considered to be among the most well-educated in Crissendumm, and to be a teacher at an Abbey school is a coveted position with strict life-choices. The teachers must live at the Abbey by the same rules and regulations the monks do for a contracted period of four years during which they will not make a salary at all--such a position is honor enough for any young man, and whoever holds this position is required to live literally like a monk. This causes trouble for some vibrant young men who don't relish the thought of living four years doing nothing but teaching.

History & Mythology
Crissendumm's history is still being revealed--I am not certain of all the parts and pieces of it, only that the royal family has always been peaceful and little-given to fighting expensive wars. There are plenty of conflicts within the place itself, that the main events in recent history have been passages between Earth and Crissendumm now and then, and of course the events of The Baby, which haven't yet transpired. Crissendumm breeds stronger men, perhaps of a less-diluted variety than the Earth-folk do, so there is a rich history of heroes of the Crissendumm race. In Starling's view:
Lord Ap-Brainard stood larger n’ life inside her head: tall, good-looking, brawny. Someone who might go well alongside the people in Crissendumm’s stories: Verog with his pair of bulls and tattooed arms, or Salisbard the Mighty--so large a man, they said, that the birds built nests in his beard, thinking his legs were tree-trunks. And Lord Darron Ap-Brainard was just as alive in her mind. Some folk thought the legends were made up by silly old men long ago, but Starling wasn’t so sure.
The people of Crissendumm are clannish and a bit quarrelsome at times with each other, though they present an united front in the face of any 'foreigners'. There are common social classes, but each citizen is generally a bit wealthier than the average citizen in London. There are very few slums, for Crissendumm is still very much tied to the agricultural system and there is always work to be done for those who have the will.
The mail is carried by "fleets" of birds, usually crows, who work in the same fashion as passenger-pigeons, and are overseen by an "admiral" who is responsible for their care and well-being.
When it comes to food, Crissendumm is a rich world with a good appetite. Any of the plummiest dishes are made, and made frequently with a very high and British fondness when it comes to tea and toast. Banquets are not unusual affairs, especially in September and October as the harvest comes in.

So. I hope you've enjoyed this bit of a world-building study, and that you will feel free to point out any categories I've missed! I also hope that by now you've got a better grasp of Crissendumm, and will be able to follow the story even better now that I've set forth a few things in a bit of a clearer light!


Madmartigan said...

This sounds amazing. It feels like I could move there tomorrow. Where did you say there was a portal? :D

Unknown said...

Sounds like a very interesting world. I like the parallel between Earth and Crissendumm. I'm looking forward to hearing more about this place! :)

Emily Chapman said...

Love it, Rachel! You're really very clever, I must say. :) World-building sounds like a lot of work but immensely fun as well.

Joy said...

What Emily said. Wow, Rachel, this is brilliance; Crissendumm is such an imaginative world within our world - what an idea! I like it muchly. Baby sounds very intriguing. ^_^

Rachel Heffington said...

I am so glad you like Crissendumm so far! World-building is not quite as hard as some people imagine--at least the way I do it. I'm not as extensive as some (Tolkien, anyone?) but I find that the world somewhat builds itself as you write the story...after all, you've got to build the plot into the culture so some of it births itself into existence out of necessity.

Rachel Heffington said...

Oh, and Madmartigan, there is one in London, at least. I am not exactly certain where the other portals are--I shall have to consult the globes in Darrow-Dwelling.