It's not too difficult for me to invent a world. I did that before with Fractal Fiction. But weaving a narrative into a real time and place requires an entirely different modus operandi. Historical details really do matter. The research behind Salamander and the Unscarred Mind has been extensive and difficult, considering the source materials I looked at were in several different languages. Even where translations existed, certain words like Uhlan and Komitadji have no perfect translation and just have to be learned.
There’s logic behind my selection of this time and place for the story, I promise. During the first half of the twentieth century, Vienna, Munich, and the other European locales in the novel are exotic enough to be magical. After scratching the stylish surfaces of these cities, it’s easy to see the relatable, modern machinery of western civilization at work. So there’s a touch of magical realism at play, a delicious struggle between the reality we’ve come to accept and the fantastic elements of our dreams. This makes the perfect atmosphere for the titular Salamander, a holy man who seems both magical and painfully human. Salamander and the Unscarred Mind is a story that could have happened.