Writers And Their Chosen Settings – M. Edward McNally

“So much of who we are is where we have been.” – William Langewiesche

On Tuesdays, I post a guest blog by a writer about a special setting, real or imaginary, they chose for their work.

Today’s guest blog is by M. Edward McNally, author of The Sable City.


The Sable City

“For a moment Tilda thought that she would very much like to show Zeb something of her home Islands: The graceful pagodas of the capital with their clinging roper vines, the stretches of white and black sand beaches.  She had very little idea what his own native lands looked like, and thought that she might like to see them, too.  Mostly, for the moment, she just wanted the two of them to see something together.”
– From “Death of a Kingdom” Volume II of the Norothian Cycle

While the Islands of Miilark are a place that only exist in my head, in fairness their origin owes much to my first visit to Hawaii.  Maybe it is owing to being an American, or specifically a Southerner of Irish/Mexican derivation, but I have always been intrigued by the places where different cultures meet, and become something new.  For the Musket-&-Magic/Age-of-Sail fantasy world of the Norothian Cycle, that place is Miilark.

“We are a culture of the sea, Mr. Long.  Islanders whose destiny has always been shaped by the vagaries of the atmosphere.  Miilark is a very special place in that the currents and gales of the ocean have made us the crossroads of continents, and so we have prospered perhaps more than any other people.  But it is not without price, for at sea any wind may bring disaster if a vessel is not in accord.”
– From “The Wind from Miilark” Volume III of the Norothian Cycle

In my world, Miilark exists in the midst of the Interminable Ocean, and it is the central meeting place of cultures originating on four continents.  It is a place where knights rub shoulders with samurai, dwarves may meet dervishes, and a wizard may share a drink with a witchdoctor.  More importantly, it is the place that Matilda Lanai (“Tilda,” to her friends) is from, and like all of us, she is to an extent what her place in the world has made her.  Tilda is something of a ‘tweener herself, owing her heritage to what the Islanders call “Ship People” stock, yet she is Miilarkian to the core.

“To an extent, the foreigners were right.  Miilarkians as a people were warm, and friendly, and yes, fair in their dealings.  But fairness, as any Miilarkian will tell you, cuts both ways.  Of course it means that right is returned.  Honor and justice, fairness demands it.  But equally, it means that a wrong left unanswered is not just disagreeable, or unfortunate.  It is immoral.  For a Miilarkian, a true Miilarkian, to be fair is to be willing to be ruthless.  A balance has no scruples.  It is true, or it is worthless.”
– From “The Sable City” Volume I of the Norothian Cycle

Book I begins with Tilda leaving the Islands that have been her home for all of her young life, and while much of what follows prevents her from returning anytime soon, Tilda is coming to find that it perhaps does not matter as much as she thinks it does.  For the Islands are with her, still.  Tilda’s home remains in her heart, and that comes with her, always.

Thanks, Amy, for the post, and everybody for reading.

Ed McNally


A big thank you to Ed McNally for sharing this guest blog about Miilark, home of his character Tilda. To read more of the story set in this place, be sure to click the links above or go to www.sablecity.com!

3 thoughts on “Writers And Their Chosen Settings – M. Edward McNally

  1. I know I was ready to visit Ed’s islands after reading about them. I also appreciate how the islands are core to Tilda’s character. Thanks again Ed for your great post!

  2. Thanks again Amy for the topic, which I thought was really interesting. Actually made me think about some things about my own writing in a way I had not quite done before. 🙂

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