When it came time to describe Trisanda, first in The Phoenix Effect and then in the Bridgetown Trilogy, I already knew what it would look like: New England in the autumn. Specifically, the area of central and western Massachusetts, where I’d grown up and lived for so many years. Far from most of the big cities, where going somewhere requires a thirty-mile drive which you don’t mind at all, because that means you get to see the foliage and listen to some tunes. There are a hell of a lot more trees and animals than there are people in some of these towns.
I worked for my town’s Public Works back in the summers of 1989 and 1990, which meant spending the entire day pushing a lawn mower up and down and around the gravestones of the dozen or so cemeteries around the town (our town was incorporated in 1762, so there are quite a few generations buried there), or working on the sides of quiet back roads, cleaning overgrowth and collecting litter. Each day I’d be neck deep in nature, watching the seasons and the colors change. Years later, when I’d have to drive those thirty-plus miles to my day job, I’d drive the back roads on purpose just so I could enjoy the views.
Come 1997, I already knew that Trisanda was going to embrace that natural setting, the miles of trees and grassy fields, old farms and whatnot. I wanted a somewhat pristine planet; one that evolved organically and with little outside influence (returning to the theme of emotional/intellectual influence there).
There are towns and cities on Trisanda, of course…the trilogy just doesn’t focus on them. It focuses more on the outpost towns, in particular one named Bann Dassah (pronunciation: bahn DAH-sah), where one particular character, Eprysia Kaalen (aka Ampryss) lives out her life as a Watcher of Earth/Gharra. We’ll see more of Bann Dassah in The Persistence of Memories and especially in The Balance of Light.
When I wrote the scene where Natianos Lehanna and Janoss Miradesi visit Trisanda — the first scene on Trisanda that didn’t involve the Landing Field or the Gathering Table — I wanted to show a world that would be familiar yet somehow alien. The forest would be similar to the above photo; a mix of pines, ashes, maples, birches, and so on to give it color. [I gave names to only a few, however…the pine-like kriosi (kree-OH-see) and the fir-like skrihad (skree-HAHD)…but you get the picture.]
And what does one see in the woods of New England, sometimes to our frustration? Wild animals like deer, wildcats and dogs. Similar creatures would most likely hang out in the wilds of Trisanda as well as part of the ecology. So in comes the wolflike gundaevi (goon-DAY-vee) and the feline jenha (JENN-hah) as background elements to the above scene. There are others that are heard or their shadows seen, but I don’t go into detail.
So is that all there is to worldbuilding? Heh, if only! It really does depend on the situation. Since 90% of the trilogy takes place in Bridgetown, I came up with all kinds of details: communities, neighborhoods, maps, population, and so on. The 10% that takes place on Trisanda is mostly in the woods or in three or four specific places, so I didn’t need to go into too much detail, and focused more on minor details to fill out description. I’m sure if/when Trisanda pops up in future Mendaihu Universe stories, I’ll be more elaborate, depending on the plot.