I've heard it said that radio dramas were "theatre of the mind." Listening to radio stories wasn't a passive activity in the way movies or stage plays are. The story didn't merely wash over you. It was an active sort of entertainment. Listeners had to populate their mental stages with all the characters and action they could only hear. They had to build the settings and put the characters in motion in a world they alone could see.
Radio dramas were good mental exercise, but IMO, books are what really provide this experience. With only ink on a page, readers have to collaborate with the author to populate the story with flesh and blood characters, to build a whole world filled with sights, sounds, smells and textures.
But what happens when the world is so different from what a reader is used to? One of my intrepid Dutch readers had no trouble imagining Brandr, my hot, fire mage hero. Of course, the wonderful cover helps there.
LORD OF FIRE AND ICE. I can't blame her. We have nothing like it now. You can watch House Hunters every day and never run across a floor plan like the one the vikings used. So my reader found this wonderful website with incredible pictures that illustrate the viking age. Here's the link: Lotofr.
The museum itself, which is organized around an archeological dig, is housed in a longhouse, a single story structure that was home to the head of the household and all their retainers in a communal sort of living. A longhouse was organized around a central meal fire. There were no chimneys. Smoke escaped from holes in the high-peaked roof. Deep benches, used for both seating and sleeping, lined the walls. Only a few rooms were actually walled off inside, the better to circulate heat. Life was as harsh as the winters and people needed to live in close community with each other in order to survive.
I'm delighted that my reader was fascinated enough by the world of LORD OF FIRE AND ICE to do a little of her own research. The pictures she discovered help her form more accurate mental images of the viking age setting.
How about you? Have you ever read a book whose world so fascinated you, you had to delve into it deeper on your own?
Mia loves to connect with readers. Find her at MiaMarlowe.com , Twitter and Facebook!