When people hear about Children of Sun and Moon, or when they read it, one of the questions I get the most is, “how did you get the idea for this?” People ask why I would write historical fantasy set in an alternate world, or why I would set it in Indonesia.
I wish I could say it just all came to me, and bam!, story idea. I mean, parts of it are always like that. You have moments of insight when suddenly something clicks into place in your mind. The kind of relief that brings, it’s like nothing else. But mostly, it’s a matter of different ideas fitting together.
In 2007, after going to publishing school, I decided to backpack around India. I was interested in the culture and especially the mythology. I wanted to put off moving to NY, which I figured an editing job probably required. So I traveled around ten different cities by train, bus, and plane. Best decision I ever made. Mainly because I met my future wife, but that’s another story.
While I was in India, I heard stories about the Kshatriya, the Hindu warrior caste. I’d heard the stories before, of course, but hearing them told there, I developed a fascination with the idea that these dynasties each claimed descent from the sun, the moon, fire, or nagas. That’s when I began to focus on these dynasties. I saw larger-than-life martial arts with magic powers and were-creatures. I began shaping a world around the Solars and Lunars.
I could have just set the story in India, of course, but for two things. I didn’t want to use the real Kshatriya, I wanted something inspired by them. And second, for the story I was telling, I wanted to use the idea of Kasusthali, the city under the sea. So I decided to shift my story to an archipelago. I considered the Philippines, but Indonesia was a better fit. Its mythology fit right in with the stories I was telling. And so the greatest achievement of the Solars became the sparkling city under the sea.
But like I said, a story isn’t just one idea. See, for some reason, I had it in my mind to tell a love story. Maybe because I had just met my future wife. I’m gonna go with that being the reason. I’m not sure that the two story ideas were originally connected, but they became connected, like the literally star-crossed lovers of the story.
One follower of the moon, one follower of the sun. Both at war. Drawn to each other by their hearts and torn apart by the differences in their culture and their political positions.
Which left me with the idea for an epic fantasy romance in Indonesia. With martial arts, war, politics, and weretigers.