As a kid ruins of old places (or even recently vacated places) struck a chord in me. I built miniature ruins in my yard from cinderblocks or rocks, whatever material I could find to elicit that sense of awe real ruins stirred in me. Even in my travels as an adult I couldn’t get enough of dusty Masada, the Acropolis in Athens, the Colosseum in Rome, or the time worn stones of Salisbury Plain. Even the more distant ruins I’ve wanted to reach but never visited, like the collapsed civilization of Easter Island, abandoned Angkor, and mysterious Nan Madol tug at my imagination today.
What were these places like in their prime? What were their people and their lives like? What secrets do they still hold that might bring them and their people to life again if we can tease the information out of them? Those questions burn in my mind even now, far away from the tiny ruins I made as a child.
In Fantastic America and Midwestern Magicians, you’ll get glimpses of ruins from a previous magical age. Those ruins and their people are unrecorded in human history, but they are no less real in the books despite their long silence. The loss of magic destroyed all of the previous magical cultures, but the return of magic brings a shadow of their former glory back to the world. They may be distant in time from the modern era, but the cultures who embraced magic long ago still influence the characters and events unfolding in the series. My childhood fascination has come full circle.