Saturday, May 13, 2017

World Building: Celebrations by Diane Burton

On Thursday, Hubs and I spent the day savoring Dutch food, like boerenkool stamppot (mashed potatoes and kale), gehaktballen (meatball and gravy), saucijzenbroodjes (like pigs in a blanket), and olibollen (a big deep-fried ball covered in powdered sugar) or Hollandse boterkoek (almond flavored shortbread) for dessert. Makes me hungry thinking about all the wonderful flavors.

 We also shopped in the Marktplaats where vendors displayed Dutch souvenirs, like hand-made wooden shoes, tulip decorated mugs, and just about anything with a Delft design. And, of course, windmills. Dancers in the street wearing wooden shoes (and multiple pairs of socks) is always fun to watch. The best part of the day was watching a parade of children dressed in Dutch costumes, accompanied by marching bands.

Each year, Holland, Michigan celebrates their Dutch heritage with the Tulip Time Festival. I remember when my sister and I drove across the state to watch our siblings in their high school marching band in a parade. We saw President Gerald Ford (when he was a representative) riding in a convertible and waving to the crowd. Now we go to watch our grandchildren.

Celebrating heritage or founding comes easily for us in the United States. We’re such a young country, and most of our citizens come from all over the world. Many of my own ancestors came from The Netherlands, so I especially enjoy Tulip Time. Since I’m a “melting pot” like so many in the U.S., I could easily join in festivities for German, Polish, Irish, British, Scottish, Welsh . . . you get the picture.

As part of the world building for our stories, we should think about celebrations and festivals—secular and/or religious. Where did the inhabitants come from? What do they hold dear? What are their celebrations like? How long do the festivities last?

In my Switched series, the planet Serenia was founded by a group of colonists called the Intrepid Ones. Like most world-building, I knew so much more than what appears in the book(s) where small but significant details are dropped into conversations or the narrative. The reader doesn’t need to know as much as the author, but I made up an entire scenario about the Intrepid Ones: who they were, how they arrived, what they found, why they left their home planet.

It made sense to me that the Serenians would hold an annual celebration to honor those who settled their planet. At the beginning of Switched Resolution, the crew of the starship Freedom are supposed to serve as an honor guard at the opening ceremonies for Founders' Day. Not good when the captain and officers don’t show up. They had other priorities, like retrieving their ship stolen by rebels.

Hmm. I wonder what foods they served during the festivities.


Actions have consequences as Space Fleet Captain Marcus Viator and NASA reject Scott Cherella discover when they switched places. Does the reserved Marcus have what it takes to imitate his smart-aleck twin? Despite help from his love, Veronese, Scott’s already been outed by two of Marcus’ best friends.

When rebels steal the ship with part of the crew aboard, Scott has to rescue them and retrieve the Freedom. The stakes increase when he discovers the rebels are heading for Earth. They know he’s a fraud and they want Marcus. The safety of the Alliance of Planets depends on Scott and his allies.

Switched Resolution, which wraps up the Switched series, takes the reader from Earth—where Marcus adjusts to a pregnant Jessie—to the starship Freedom commandeered by rebels, to the chase ship with Scott and Veronese aboard.


Francesca Quarto said...

Diane, I have stayed in Holland, Michigan several times in summers past and like you, have always found it delightful and delicious! Loved your ideas about using celebrations in our world building to help ground the story line and characters. Thanks much for your insights. Hope you shared that big pastry with Hubby!

Francesca Q.

Maureen said...

Your post made me hungry hearing about all these delicious foods. Enjoyed the post!

CJ Burright said...

Those heritage festivals are so much fun - and with all the food you mentioned, now I'm hungry! I love the idea of including such festivals in stories too.

Diane Burton said...

I'm glad I tickled your taste buds, Maureen & CJ. Addings foods to celebrations in our stories could do the same thing to our readers.

Francesca, the west side of Michigan is so beautiful. I'm glad we ended up over here. Who me share that delicious dessert? LOL Hubs got his own.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Wow what interesting information! Those Olibollen sounds like our beignet's :-)
Good luck and God's blessings

Alicia Dean said...

Oh my gosh, how awesome! The food sounds sooo yummy. And what a fun day. LOVE the Switched series. Excellent world-building in all your books!