As a child, I loved Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. My second novel, The Darkling Odyssey, was partly inspired by this novel, by the idea of a journey to the centre of a planet and the worlds that might exist within it. It's a journey to the centre of the planet of Prometheus.
Jules Verne’s characters found passages to the centre of the Earth. In the science fiction film, The Core, the method was quasi-scientific, and quite fun (although the film wasn’t received well because it wasn’t seen as being scientific enough—which was true).
In The Darkling Odyssey, the journey is possible because of magic. And because the planet lends power to the protagonists.
In my travels around the world, I’ve explored many underground cities, and some cities that just have the feeling of being subterranean. Many of these inspired me when writing The Darkling Odyssey.
China has underground malls that you can walk through for hours. Turkey has ancient underground cities in Cappadocia, with tunnels and caverns carved out in the rock deep underground. I've sat deep beneath the surface in dining rooms cut from rock and stood in an underground church. These cities have intricate defence systems, including security points where the defenders in the past would roll great stone wheels down into the passages, blocking them the attackers.
Taiwan has ultra-modern underground shopping malls that stretch for kilometres.
Shiding Old Street is a covered market street and is relatively short, but in my imagination, when I walk along it, I could be deep within the planet.
Here are some extracts and imagined images from the novel.
Lucy has a highly developed psychic sense, and her empathy is literal empathy. She literally feels the emotions of others. Here she's deciding whether or not to use her gift in a particularly dangerous situation.
“Empathy had its benefits, but sometimes barriers had to be established, and she was sure that opening herself to the emotions of a reptile bred to kill was not wise. But she realised that many things she’d done in her life were not wise.”
As in the first book, she develops a close relationship with the natural world including its animals. This quote is from a scene when Thomas overhears Lucy speaking to a pair of fish as he and his friend are attempting to escape from a very difficult situation…
“Two large white fish had answered her call, and she was giving them careful instructions…They agreed to do what she asked; she had a way of persuading animals to help in many ways…he smiled as she told the fish to take no chances, and to dive deep at the first sign of trouble.”
The fish replied…
“‘We’ve lived for eighty years in this river. We can protect ourselves.’ The fish moved away from them, slowly rising closer to the surface…”
"A dark creature stepped from the forest, the ground trembling as it approached. Its eyes burnt red, and he felt its heat—just as he had on the day of her death."
The goddess shook her head. “I found him floating on an old wooden map in an ocean on another world. He’s stayed with me for half a lifetime, but he misses the sea. He’s been a ship’s cat several times.”
I think of names in many ways for my stories. In this case, I took his name from Mandarin Chinese. I knew I wanted him to be discovered in this unusual way, and I named him after 'map' in Chinese, which is 地圖 (dìtú). Actually, his name is really 'picture' because 圖 by itself means picture.
One fun part of writing The Darkling Odyssey was creating a magical oracle deck. The main card that Lucy connects with is The Wolf, though there are several others.
Here, Lucy meets the oracle for the first time.
As she turned the deck over, a card jumped out. Turning over the card, she saw a wolf staring at her.
“Were you speaking to me earlier?”
“Who else? And I lent you my fleas, too.” She involuntarily scratched herself. “They’ve gone now. Mostly.”
“Who are you?” Lucy had used oracle cards before but had never imagined cards like this.
Here are some impressions of the wolf oracle.
Here's the book description to give you a better idea of the story.
Thomas Brand is imprisoned in darkness, deep beneath the surface of Prometheus. When Aina died to save his life, so did the magic and hope within him.
But when a fiery creature visits him in the night, telling him that Aina lives, and demanding that he descend to the centre of the planet to where she waits—and to take the magic fire—Thomas begins to question his beliefs of life and death.
The discovery that his friend, Lucy, might still be alive, and the arrival of dark sorcerers intent on killing them, forces him to attempt escape, and to consider the dangerous journey to the centre of Prometheus.
Could Aina really be alive?
If you feel inspired to read The Darkling Odyssey (much recommended) the most popular book links are below, but first a disclaimer. I use Amazon affiliate links on my website. If you buy anything through these links I make a small commission (your price remains the same).
You can read my article on Fire Rising, the final book in the trilogy.