Yes, I realise occupation is a better word but I already have an O word lined up for this A-Z blog challenge which is, for all of you who don’t already know, themed around my WIP ‘Prophecy of Innocence’ – a children’s fantasy adventure novel featuring a tribe of beings called elflings who live in an underground world. Across this challenge I explore and reveal various aspects of the story, its world and its inhabitants.
Part of world building means you have to pay a lot of attention to detail and although much of that detail may never make it explicitly into the final story you as the author have to have a very clear idea about basic stuff. For example: what food do the inhabitants of your world eat? What traditions do they uphold? What are their clothes like? And of course what do they do for a living?
Although I knew very early on in creating Trelflande (the place where the elflings live) I wanted them to be an innocent race, free from the trappings money brings into a society (though the quest for wealth and power can often serve as useful plot lines), I knew they would still need to have jobs. Primarily because Trelflande society is built on the exchange of skills rather than money and are a race who are interdependent on each other. They do not make money or even trade with each other. They share their respective skills for the good of all. So even though the main protagonist owns his own Toadstool factory where he makes products from fungi he does not expect payment of any kind for his work. He does it for the challenge, and the love of his craft (I suppose a little like writers do) and because he knows his work is an integral aspect of a functioning community. This is the very bedrock of Trelflande societies. They work together and share their skills.
I also knew the characters may need an occupation to help define their character although some occupations become more necessary for plot development and others still were simply incidental (though this is for minor characters.)
So when thinking about occupations for a race of tiny beings who live under the ground I had to put on my thinking imaginatively hat. I bet I could have come up with some really quirky occupations if I wasn’t such a realist, but I’m thinking someone who designs umbrellas made of fungi is fairly imaginative.
So other than a toadstool design-engineer what other jobs do elflings do in Trelflande? Well, mostly the sort of jobs we would have done in the past to survive and thrive. More traditional occupations necessary to keep a society running. The following all appear in the first two books:
Crafts-elfling: Elflings who craft furniture and homes from the tree roots and other natural materials found underground.
Miners: Elflings who mine the precious gems which make crystonal as well as mining for metal.
Surgeon/doctor: Self explanatory. Doctors in Trelflande use natural medicinal cures such a salicin from the bark of the willow tree for pain relief. I happened to chance upon this piece of information not via Google but on an information board next to Loch Lomond in Scotland. I remember taking a photo of it and thinking the info might come in useful at some point and so it did.
Foragers: The foragers are the elflings who look primarily for food sources from their surroundings. Then of course there are those who can cook it, the chefs.
Hunters: Like foragers but they specifically locate dead animals such as moles, not for eating, but for their fur to make clothes. Elflings are herbivores or vegetarians by nature and they do not kill for the materials they need, instead only use what they find. Hunters also hunt for fireflies which are needed for light in Trelflande. Clothes are then made by tailors and are sewn using the spun webs of spiders.
Cartographer: A map maker. Otterton Craydon is Treebay’s resident cartographer and it is his job to map out the network of underground tunnels and build on existing maps. Maps are written on parchment which is made from a mulch of dried plant matter with a special dye from the Greenweed plant dipped onto the sharpened end of a tiny twig.
Archivist: There is only ever one keeper of the Trelflande archives at any one time and it is a job passed on through each generation. The current keeper of the Trelflande historical archives is Shaftsbury Trailstar, Edingworth’s father. Edingworth, as well as being a vet to creatures such as moles, (which the elflings use as transport) is in training to become the keeper of the archives once his father passes away.
Alchemists: The main role of the alchemists of Trelflande is to understand the complexities of the crystonal compound which gives longevity to the life of the elflings and to develop its uses. They also work to develop and make medicines from the natural materials available to them.
Teachers: Teachers in Trelflande teach the skills they have to the younger generation and so by nature every elfling is a teacher in their own particular trade. Elfling children do not go to school to learn. They learn from the adult elflings around them, mainly their parents.
And that’s it, in a nutshell!
If you have any inspirational ideas for jobs my elflings could do in their underground world, I’d love to hear your ideas. I’m sure there are plenty more ideas to enrich my world.