The Languages of Carrot Field

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The invented languages of Carrot Field came about in a curious way. It all began when I realized that I was using European Christian names on a planet other than earth! I wondered how this could be possible and started to puzzle out how I could make it plausible.

I knew that English stemmed mostly from German and the Romance Languages (such as Italian, Spanish and French) and that they are related to Vulgar Latin. I had also used Greek names, so I would have to factor that in too. The task before me was to create a family of languages, each with a history, that could plausibly lead to the creation of names like Sebastian, Richard and Agamemnon.

The first phase of work was to bury my head in etymologies, the histories of words. I immersed myself in this work starting around 2000, about 4 years of basic groundwork, while learning the basic components of language. This was an enormous amount of work but in the end I broke down a basic history for my language family. This was both shaped by, and also helped to shape, the fictive history of Carrot Field.

The keystone was Almas, a language like Anglo-Saxon. Almas is an invented language (you’ll have to read the book to discover who invented it!) meant to unify the disparate allies who are fighting the great enemy, Lord Ouroboros. It is from Almas that “English” is derived, or the language the novel is written in. I thought this was a neat and clean way of solving the problem. Of course, there’s a bevy of other tongues behind Almas, and a good deal of thought went into what those would be. Some are more developed than others, some are no more than names for languages and a vague accompanying idea. The issue was verisimilitude, suspension of disbelief, not alternate reality!

I am not a linguist. Unlike Jrr Tolkien, my knowledge is rudimentary. My special area of study is anthropology, animal behavior (especially humans and their close cousins!), not the technical study of languages. So there is an enormous amount of cultural psychology and historical influence on my approach to inventing languages. I am not a big fan of what is called “con-langing”, constructing languages according to a formula derived from linguistic science. The results are often unsatisfying to me, as a listener. It worked for Tolkien but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone! So I have tried to avoid simply applying a formula; although, of course, I am constrained by relevant scientific principals.

I am now embarking on the project of bringing the languages of Carrot Field into order. I have many, many pages of notes to work from; and you can also work backwards from what you have already created. There are a few words and names that come from my early 20’s, kept for sentimental reasons, that are not created according to any realistic principals, and there are some words and names that were created out of pure whimsy. I think it’s important, in fantasy, to have these sorts of “loose” elements, they connect with the reader’s sense of play and make believe. And of course we invent words and terms almost every day!

However, I am going to endeavor to bring order & structure to the most important of my imaginary languages. Here are some of languages you will “hear” a little of in the novel:

Almas: Spoken mostly by Animals, especially Foxes. Most of their place names are in Almas.

Rarian: Spoken by the Leonine people, based loosely on Sanscrit and Sumerian.

Ibrayeth: The language of the Maugilar who dwell in the Arad Arn Mountains, deeply inspired by elements of Hebrew.

Lasra: The language of Malveth, lord of the Shadow Kingdom, adopted by the Maugilar who chose to follow him. His language is expressed in their personal and place names, such as Gorthang (a subterranean city), Arog (Warlord of the Legions) and Pala (a female name).

The glossary in Carrot Field provides etymology for most of the invented words and names.

Clearly, I have a lot of work & learning ahead of me: but it is work I am excited to do!

CARROT FIELD by VINCENT ASARO is published by Pressque and is now available as an Ebook; and in Hardcover and Trade Paperback editions September 2013.

http://www.amazon.com/Carrot-Field-ebook/dp/B00D5Z4N28/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=GKXLJZ16EMPK&coliid=I1AH1ADDIV3DUP

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Carrot Field : The Inspirations

A book that takes almost 20 Years to publish has more influences than the author himself can possibly be aware of. But I thought I’d list some of the major influences behind the epic fantasy novel Carrot Field.

BEATRIX POTTER

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The earliest inspiration. My very first story, written when I was 5 years old, was about a rabbit! I always dreamed of a story that would take Peter Rabbit into an adventure as big as the Lord of the Rings or the Iliad or the saga of King David. In the end, I had to write it myself! “The Tale of Jeremy Fisher” contributed a lot to the Dworrows in Carrot Field so keep an eye out!

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS

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The next big “animal adventure” story I fell in love with was The Wind In The Willows. This book really gave me the style of prose for Carrot Field, somewhere between E.M. Forster and P.G. Wodehouse! Of course my badger, Professor Hercule Xavier Plotonicus, was heavily influenced by the (justly) famous Mr. Badger. One big difference: there is no one like Mr. Toad in Carrot Field: I somehow doubt he would have made out very well at the walls of Troy!

AESOP’S FABLES

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Further solidifying my obsession with animal tales were these immortal little stories. From Aesop I learned how simple a story could be, and I tried to embed as many mini-tales into Carrot Field as I could. You will discover many embedded in the text. They sometimes take the form of actual fables, stories supposedly composed by the cultures in my book, at other times they are small incidents or scenes that contain a kernel of timeless wisdom, passed down through the ages in fables such as Aesop wrote.

UNCLE REMUS

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These stories had a powerful effect on me when I first read them, and they still do today. Although considered American folklore, these are mostly African folktales, transported to an American landscape, as their unfortunate tellers were. From these stories I learned the value of cleverness and tricks in animal stories. Animals represent nature, they break rules and cannot be contained by any law. I made this true of my own animal characters: the heroes of Carrot Field triumph by ignoring the “rules” and doing what must be done.

ANIMAL FARM

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From Orwell I got the idea of using animals as metaphors and tackling real world issues through a seemingly simple animal fable. Carrot Field contains a very Orwellian subplot in which I deal with the more extreme, some might say paranoid, fears of our age. I think it lends weight to the narrative and also allows a small comment to be made on the foolishness of blindly following leaders based on the promises they make.

WATERSHIP DOWN

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One of the very best animal stories ever written! I owe so much to this book, I do not know where to begin. Suffice to say that it was a major inspiration and that I have turned to it for fresh inspiration innumerable times during the long creation of Carrot Field.

LORD OF THE RINGS

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Jrr Tolkien gave me the idea of starting with an untried hero, an innocent thrust into the world of war and power struggle on a grand scale. Tolkien also made me aware of language and I have endeavored to make my fictive languages believable and internally consistent. He also provided inspiration as the years dragged on and Carrot Field failed to reach publication: Lord of the Rings was 14 years in the works and he never did complete the Silmarillion.

THE OLD TESTAMENT

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These timeless stories provided profound inspiration. They contain every kind of experience known to humankind. The great war epics found in Joshua and Samuel are echoed in the huge battles in Carrot Field. The Fox patriarch, Mab Redtail, was modeled after Moses. Carrot Field confronts the problem of faith head on. I came to my own conclusions after a long search: what do you believe? I hope my book inspires conversation and debate.

THE ILIAD

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The descriptions of armor, weapons, vehicles and fighting styles inspired me to make each cultural group in Carrot Field distinct on the battlefield. I was also inspired by the opulence of the world described in Homer’s epic poem. The Iliad is heavily echoed several times in Carrot Field, purposely. As a child I would daydream about Peter Rabbit before the walls of Troy  . . . .

THE RAMAYANA

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Malveth, from Carrot Field, is largely modeled on Ravana, the demon king who might have been like Ram, the hero, but who forgot his heart. From the monkey hero Hanuman to the themes of transcendence and regeneration, Carrot Field is deeply rooted in this great Sanskrit epic. If you have never read Ramayana, put it on your reading list immediately. It is the mythological epic to end all mythological epics.

SHAKESPEARE

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The major influences here are King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Look for the character of King Shieldmane, who was modeled after Lear; and also Lord Amlar and Lady Estil of the Feolorn, who were modeled after Theseus and Hippolyta (although I reversed their personalities: Amlar is Hippolyta and Estil is Theseus). But I am overall very influenced by Shakespeare’s style of storytelling.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM

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The Grimm’s work on German folklore and language theory have influenced me a great deal but it was their two collections of folk tales that most influenced Carrot Field. I tried to make my epic novel as much like a perfect folk story or fairy tale as possible. I think of it as an “epic fable” and I hope readers find it as easy to follow and understand as a classic fairy tale.

THE GOLDEN BOUGH

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There’s a lot of Frazier in Carrot Field. He was an early anthropologist who wrote a twelve volume study on the recurrence of certain themes in religious myths, in particular the death of the god-king. If you’ve read Frazier, you’ll see the places where I used him for inspiration: here’s a hint – pay close attention to the Horukai!

CG JUNG

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I am a true Jungian and Jung’s theories run deep in Carrot Field. I’m not proselytizing, and I have my own heavy criticisms for aspects of Jung and his work, but I wanted to included symbolism that was not universal, that was specific, to highlight certain themes in Carrot Field. One major theme is identity. Who better to draw inspiration from on that concept than Carl Jung? Jungians will find many familiar symbols in Carrot Field.

MERCIA ELIADE

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French anthropologist who wrote on the balance between secular (profane) and religious (sacred) experience. His theories on Sacred Space and Sacred Time were deeply influential on Carrot Field, and if you have read Eliade you will recognize him in my novel, especially one scene which takes place in a subterranean temple.

THE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM

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This great history of the Arab Revolt in WWI was a heavy influence on the Maugilar of Carrot Field. I also love the prose style and the echoes of epic literature, such as The Iliad and Old Testament. I keep this book on my writing desk and open it often to re-read favorite passages. There’s a bit of T.E. Lawrence in Sebastian, my hero, a young scholar thrown into a vast power struggle and a great war.

ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES

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Darwin’s great book inspired me to get my natural history right and I have endeavored to make the fauna and flora of Carrot Field completely believable. I was also inspired by his beautiful descriptions of the natural world and by the precision and economy of his prose.

CARROT FIELD by VINCENT ASARO is published by Pressque and will be available as an Ebook on May 31st 2013; and in Hardcover and Trade Paperback editions September 2013.

The Long Long Journey

Back in 1994 I was a 21 year old writer with no clue about what the future held for me. Today I am 40 and I look back with hindsight and experience on the past 19 years. Back then publishing was a far more mysterious process. All I had was the Publisher’s Marketplace and one or two magazines about writing. You sent your manuscript out to the publisher and hoped for the best. There was virtually no short fiction market, the comic book industry was ailing, and it was near impossible to get into film and television writing. There were no ebooks, self publishing meant printing up to 2,000 copies of your book and hoping for the best. There was no social media: promotion meant hustling in the real world, pushing your book anywhere/everywhere, like a door to door dictionary salesman. No youtube, no podcasts: if you got on local-local cable access TV or community college radio, you were doing good for yourself. Writers have gone from living in a black hole of isolation to complaining that there is so much socializing to do online that it interferes with their writing!

Last year this time I was working on a Kickstarter campaign to self publish “Carrot Field”. I worked on the project until October 2012 when Pressque Publishing offered to publish the book. To be honest, despite the fact that self publishing is no longer seen as the arena of hacks and wannabe’s, that it actually brings a measure of pride and respect with it in today’s world, some small measure of pride was satisfied by the fact that I did not, after all, have to publish it myself, that the book would be “really published”.

Now I am facing the fact that my private little world of “Carrot Field” will soon be put before the public. Will people like it? Hate it? Will they even read it? I wake up in cold sweats worrying about possible typos nestled in the text, I wonder if I should have double-checked the moon phases or completed all of the languages or . . . . You get the idea!

Ready or not, the work of 19 years will soon be out there. I guess some things haven’t changed: all I can do is hope for the best.

(“Carrot Field”, an epic fantasy novel, will be published May 31st in eBook format and in autumn 2013 as a Hardcover and Trade Paperback.)

 

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Professor Plotonicus

Professor Plotonicus

Professor Hercule Xavier Plotonicus was once a renowned academic scholar. But his reputation fell into disrepute when he insisted on exploring the possible reality of the “Human” species, legendary beings out of the remote mythological history of Animal-kind. Plotonicus embarks on an epic expedition to find the remains of Human society beyond the Great Forest which encloses Carrot Field – and he takes with him the son of his greatest pupil – Sebastian Perriwinkle.

 

Author’s Note: Plotonicus has proven to be a favorite character for most readers. I did not create the character until 2001 when I realized that the “wise old mentor” archetype was sorely missing from Carrot Field.  His original name was Professor Zackery Platonicus Badger.  He’s changed a bit over the years, mellowing into a more likable character. The above sketch was based on a screenplay version written in 2004!

Sebastian Perriwinkle

Sebastian Perriwinkle

Sebastian is the central character in “Carrot Field”. When we first meet Sebastian he has just completed a book of family history. The Perriwinkles, it seems, have taken part in every major historical event in Carrot Field’s history. Sebastian, who lives a quiet country life with his uncle, Richard, can’t help but wonder when he will have his own chance to embark on a big adventure.

That opportunity comes when he crosses paths with the extraordinary Professor Hercule Xavier Plotonicus…

Author’s Note: Sebastian was originally named Alexander in 1995. Over the years, as the character changed, I decided that Alexander sounded far too bold and adventurous for this character, so I named Sebastian’s father Alexander and made him a (deceased) war hero. In early drafts of this version, I habitually typed “Alexander” instead of “Sebastian”!

(Illustration by Seth Robinson, who also designed the Carrot Field logo.)

 

What is Carrot Field?

To make a very long story short, he’s the brief:

CARROT FIELD is an epic fantasy novel – imagine a cross between The Wind & The Willows and Lord of the Rings, with touches of George Orwell’s dark dystopian vision & Philip Pullman’s exploration of faith and religion.

CARROT FIELD tells the story of Sebastian (a rabbit), Brand Redtail (a fox) and Professor Plotonicus (a badger). They set out on an expedition of discovery, to cross the Great Forest, an immense barrier that separates Carrot Field (where the animals live) from the outside world. What they discover is a world torn by an ancient war, a war so old no one can remember how it began, and get caught up in an epic quest to find the remains of the mythical Human race and defeat The Lord Ouroboros who threatens to consume the world with the Darkness of the Void. It is a tale of friendship, courage and everyday heroism. I describe Carrot Field as an “epic fable” and it examines everything from fascist politics to the notion of God. At its heart it’s an old school adventure story filled with daring rescues, huge battles and small acts of bravery against vast forces of evil.

CARROT FIELD was conceived in 1994 and first written in 1995, at the request of a little girl who wanted “a story about a rabbit.” In the ensuing 19 years it has undergone four major conceptual revisions, ten full drafts, well over 100 rewrites, and generated thousands of pages of text. It was bought and never published by a major publisher, repped by a major Hollywood agent as a movie, and was finally acquired by Pressque Publishing in 2012.

CARROT FIELD will be published next month, May 2013, in three formats (eBook, hardcover and trade paperback). It is my debut novel and my life’s work.

Check back for the whole story behind this one of a kind novel; I’ll be featuring some of the enormous amount of work that has gone into it since ’94.