Having plunged about 30,000 words into writing a new fantasy story, I am starting to build the foundations of my fictional world. My fascination with the diverse Australian landscape strongly influences my settings, and it’s a lot of fun cherry-picking bits and pieces to colour my stories.

One of the subplots in this particular story inverts the ‘mail-order bride’ scenario. Women from a wealthy, matriarchal nation buy themselves husbands from a neighbouring wartorn continent. Their interracial marriages cause resentment and hostility in both nations, fuelled by conflict caused by the differences in culture and beliefs.

The wealthy nation strictly defends its borders, so needed a landscape that would naturally repel anyone trying to come ashore without authorisation. Yesterday, I read a newspaper article about the amazing dolerite stacks on Tasmania’s Three Capes Track, and my imagination began to fire.

I’ve lived in Tasmania, and have strong family ties and ancestry there, so it’s already one of my favourite sources of inspiration for plotlines and settings. The photos below were taken at the Devil’s Kitchen on the Tasman Peninsula. These siltstone rock formations are estimated to have formed 270 million years ago. It’s assumed that the Devil’s Kitchen itself (centre) is what now remains after the roof of a sea cave collapsed and fell into the water 60 metres below.

So, the sheer, tall cliffs shearing into deep oceans were perfect for my story. Now, with the south-eastern border of my fictional nation clearer in my mind and on the page, my protagonist and her newly purchased husband travel north, to her family estate. A horse and cattle stud with pastures extending to pristine white beaches, where the cattle eat bull kelp that’s washed up on the sand. That plotline, incidentally, is based on cattle from the north-west of Tasmania, but that’s perhaps a story for another day.

Where do you find inspiration for your fictional settings? Which parts of the world would you like to see or write about in fiction, particularly fantasy fiction?

Please feel free to share your comments below.