Amazing what you discover, when you do research on Google.
I didn't know, for example, that the Roma gypsy people originated in India. The story goes that a king in Sassania - modern Iran - was told that few of his people listened to music, so he had hundreds of musicians brought from India to play for them. Later the newcomers were expelled, and began to wander from place to place. In those days they were called the Luri, after the lyre, which was their favourite instrument.
Isn't that fascinating? A little piece of history, broken off and carried intact into the modern world. I love it when that happens.
You might have guessed (clever you) that this is to do with a story. I'm rewriting The Bone-Smile, volume one of a trilogy I've mentioned before. In essence a secretive clade of sorcerers controls the world, while a gaggle of misfits tries to defeat them. The mages have ruled behind the scenes for thousands of years, but a few fragments of knowledge have survived - some of them through the gypsies, who are so poor and rootless that the sorcerers have never considered them significant. The gypsies are new to the story, so I needed to know what they were like about 4,000 years ago; their language, how they dressed, what they enjoyed doing.
A lot of it is guesswork. A lot more I can invent according to what the story needs, because in the end I'm not writing a history book here. But the heart of it ought to be true, I think, or as close to true as I can manage. Because the truth is, friends and readers, that nothing a Fantasy writer can create is half so fascinating as what you find in the depths of the internet when you go a-wandering, following link after link into a labyrinth you never knew existed. And that in itself is a journey into other worlds. Sometimes I find I have 15 windows open and am reading about the mating habits of the bower bird, for no reason I can easily remember. But other times I stumble over some hidden gem, a treasure buried deep under mounds of internet wiffle. That's how I found out about gypsy origins, and so got the idea to add them into Bone-Smile.
That's all for now. My next blog will be about all the good and bad things I've encountered during 2014, but that's for the end of the month. For now let me just wish everyone the best Christmas and New Year. I hope you get a little of what you wish for and a lot of what you most need. Take care.