Let’s Go On a Pond-cation is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond that celebrates and highlights worldbuilding in stories! In our Pond-cation posts, the Pond friends and authors team up to take all of us on a virtual vacation through the real life places in books or the places that inspired fictional places and worldbuilding. Find out more information about this guest feature here.
We’re going on a wonderful journey today, friends. When I heard about Dream Country, a forthcoming YA fantasy about sibling rivalry and triplets gods, I was immediately intrigued! When I had the opportunity to work together with Onwe, a Black women-led independent publisher, to celebrate the worldbuilding of Dream Country by Ashaye Brown as part of the book’s blog tour, I absolutely had to say yes. I have the honour of having Ashaye Brown herself visiting us today to take us on a journey through the wonderful places in Dream Country and their inspirations. So, let’s go, friend. Ashaye’s going to take us on an adventure!
Hello Pond-cationers! I’m Ashaye Brown, author of the YA fantasy DREAM COUNTRY about triplet gods of Sleep, Dreams and Nightmare whose sibling rivalry has kept them apart for years until a mysterious mortal child with unknown powers arrives and throws them back into each other’s lives. The world of DREAM COUNTRY consists of the three realms of each of the triplets as well as the island where their mortal followers live. I can’t wait to take you on a tour of these four locations today!
“On the mortal island of Pangaea the Majority had constructed a temple tall enough for them to reach their gods. In theory. The longest spire on the domed roofs fell just short of the sky, but still they called it the Staircase Spire.”
Pangaea is a fairly small island country named after the supercontinent because its isolation from the rest of the world, the Celesterra, has led the island to be the only world that its inhabitants know, as is reflected in the name Pangaea coming from the Greek for “entire world”. The Pangaeans’ distaste for other countries is due to the fact that it is a theocracy, while the rest of the world rejects their gods. The importance of religion on Pangaea is reflected by the central location of the main temple, the place where their religious leaders live and where the gods are able to come down and visit them in person.
I enjoyed thinking of the architecture and art of the temple, and about how this all would be affected by the fact that unlike most places of worship, the gods themselves could actually visit. This led to it having more of the presence of a palace than a temple, complete with massive halls and golden thrones.
“The whole of Zion lay before him like a carpet at the feet of a giant. Coconut and palm trees, waterfalls and rolling hillsides spread out beneath him, the gentle wind blowing the tune of a lullaby and making the blades of grass and river water sway to its touch. Theo’s eye caught every precise dancing movement. This was his paradise.”
Zion is the Sleep Realm, where the God of Sleep Theo lives with his Minor gods and the Duppies, who are the souls of the dead. It is inspired by Jamaica and is named after the Rastafarian concept of heaven. Because of this, it is very tropical and relaxing.
Whenever I pictured Zion the first thing that came to mind was the colours, the luscious greens of the grass and forests and the deep blue of the eponymous River Zion.
“The twelve mountains of Os Pesadelos huddled together for warmth. Their peaks were snow-capped, jagged and treacherous, regularly sending avalanches of ice and rock to the bottom. The people had learned to live with this risk. If an avalanche took out their favelas, there was rarely anyone left behind to complain about it. Besides, a bit of snow was nowhere near the most dangerous thing in the Nightmare realm.”
Os Pesadelos, the Nightmare Realm, which is literally named “The Nightmares” in Portuguese, is the home of Torres, the Nightmare God, with his Minor gods and monsters. It is inspired by Brazil and specifically the Pico de Neblina mountain. The twelve mountains create a claustrophobic atmosphere in the realm, whether you’re in the bustling marketplace next to the crystal caves, or at the peak of the third mountain where the Nightmare God’s castle watches over the realm.
Anyone who has ever scaled a mountain will know how unwelcoming and difficult a landscape it can be, but once you get to the top the view is very much worth it. This is what the Nightmare realm represents; a terrible thing which becomes beautiful with just a simple change of perspective.
“Everything from the hot, unstable sand to the dry, heavy air was different in Dream Country. Even the sun seemed hotter and, when he risked a glance up at it, he saw that it was redder than it ever appeared in Zion. Although Theo knew it, had lived it, if anyone told him then that this strange, unwelcoming place had once been the same realm as Zion, he wouldn’t have believed them.”
Dream Country, is the realm of Dreams, inhabited by the Goddess Fanta with her Minor gods and wild phantelles. The name Dream Country is what is commonly used, but it is said that there is also another name, spoken only in Swahili between the residents of the realm. The Dream realm is Kenyan inspired, but it is all desert. The rolling brown sand dunes seem to go on forever and it’s only the nomadic permanent residents that seem to really know how to navigate this harsh landscape.
Writing about Dream Country, I definitely drew on my own experiences of camel riding through the Moroccan desert in the middle of a sandstorm. Not something I’m in a hurry to do again!
Thank you for joining me on this little tour through the settings of DREAM COUNTRY. I hope you enjoyed the journey!
Thank you so much for showing us through the places in Dream Country, Ashaye! Dream Country releases next week, on the 27th of April! Here is the blurb and be sure to add it to your to-read lists and pre-order it!
Dream Country by Ashaye Brown
A sibling rivalry to fuel your worst nightmares.
The dysfunctional triplet gods of Sleep, Dreams and Nightmares are kept separate by the deadly Gates of Horn and Ivory.
Only one fact keeps them tightly bound: each of them is a suspect in their mother’s murder.
Their knife-edge feud worsens when a mortal enters the world with astounding abilities that threaten to change the game for them all.
In this thrilling young adult fantasy, Ashaye Brown brings to life a visionary world infused with Kenyan, Brazilian, Caribbean, and Grecian cultural references. A story like no other with stakes as high as they come.