In my ongoing blog series to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the publication of Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers, I’ve talked about the heroes, the antagonists, and the inspiration for the overall idea. Today’s topic is the setting.
Just like many of the characters in the book, the setting of the story went through a significant transformation. Originally, I had called this place where the tiny folk lived the Land of Tween. This was because they lived “Between Here and There.”
However, this was over ten years ago, and the term “Tween” was quickly being taken over by the media as a reference to those kids who weren’t quite kids anymore—but weren’t teenagers either.
I decided I need to change Tween to something else. This was one of those cases where the simplest decision became the easiest! I chopped off the first two letters and called it the land of “Een.”
Originally the inhabitants of the magic land in the story were going to be all manner of fairy-tale characters such as pixies, gnomes, and elves. This is demonstrated in the early drawing of Winter Woodsong shown below.
As you can see, she was originally a fairy, complete with star-dusted wings. Because of this starry appearance, she was first known as Summer Starlight, but eventually it seemed more appropriate to change the name of the “Eldest of the Elders” to Winter Woodsong.
Certain locations within the Land of Een also went through some changes as I developed the story.
Below, you can see a concept sketch of the Elder Stone.
As shown by that drawing, there is a time when I thought the home of the Council of Elders should look more like a towering castle, with flags and ornamentation.
Eventually, I decided I wanted it to look more like a natural rock, as is shown in the final illustration:
The idea is that you might walk right past it and—unless you were really looking closely—you might not even notice it. Interestingly, I revisited the idea of the Elder Stone as an opulent castle in Books 4 and 5 of the series.
The Box of Whispers also established the Magic Curtain, which is the border that surrounds the Land of Een. In the original publication of the book, there was no overall map of Een, though you could see part of its border in this map from Professor Bumblebean’s notes:
The idea of the Magic Curtain, this boundary that guards and hides Een from the outside world, came to play a major role in future Kendra Kandlestar books.
In the next post, I’ll discuss some of the inspirations for the visual design of the overall book.