I was reminded again today why fantasy works so well when I write about cross-cultural interactions: they are both full of arbitrary rules. Just full of them. I live overseas, as you may know, and I have been calling a medical lab since 6:30 this morning, trying to get my results sent to me by email so that I don’t have to drive into town and pick them up. And while I am waiting, I’m distracting myself by reading The Wicked King by Holly Black (a fabulous series, by the way). Her world building is really fantastic, and as such, the faeries have all sorts of intricate rules that must be followed.
And I laughed at myself, because I realized that I’d been trying to talk to faeries like a human…I’d been asking the people at the lab to please send my results, when what I needed to do was ask when they will be done. If they’re done, they’ll be embarrassed enough to send them. If they’re not done, they will likely lie about it and then get on it to meet their own deadline.
In The Ex-Princess, when Abbie crosses the Veil for the first time, she’s disappointed by how anti-climatic the experience is. But crossing cultures is just like that for me: you cross an invisible line that someone painted over the earth, so arbitrary it’s amazing that anyone respects it, and yet, you don’t even notice when it happens. One of my beta readers complained as well, to which I replied, “So the last time you crossed into this country, were you aware of it?” She reddened a little and said, “No, I was on an airplane.”
Arbitrary rules. They’ll get you every time.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call to make.