I had been working on an action packed sword and sorcery story when I came across a call for submissions for a new magazine called Wyngraf. Its focus is on something they call “cozy fantasy.” As stated on their website, “Wyngraf was founded to promote and encourage fantasy stories that focus on the little things: friends, family, home, travel. Our authors create worlds that readers get lost in… and dream of someday visiting.”
I didn’t have anything previously written or in the works that would fit, so I figured I’d just keep it in mind for another time. But I am all about cozy. I love to browse the CozyPlaces subreddit. I love having a cup of hot Sleepytime Tea primarily because the picture on the package is so inviting. I love fireplaces and snuggling up under a blanket to read on a cold, rainy day. So the next morning I figured I might as well play with a few concepts and see if I could come up with something that could fit the bill.
I spent a bit of time that day thinking back on fantasy books I’ve read that had cozy scenes in them. There was Bag End in the Shire, Badger’s house from The Wind in the Willows, and bits and pieces from Redwall and The Name of the Wind and Narnia. But my biggest inspiration for the story came from Skyrim.
Skyrim is one of my favorite games of all time. The setting has everything I love. Cold. Snow. Forests. Mountains. And all of it is wrapped up in a medieval Norse inspired culture. I enjoy wandering around, exploring, taking in the view, and then ending the day in a warm, hearth lit tavern.
A year ago or so, since I couldn’t find any books that gave me that Skyrim feel I was itching for, I created my own world with all of its history and mythology. I took inspiration from the Sami, Inuit, and Norse cultures, drew up maps, created a few characters, and set it aside.
I figured this would be the perfect world to use for my story for Wyngraf. They were interested in a sub-genre of cozy fantasy they call “backpack fantasy”, which they describe as fantasy that “focuses on travels and adventures in the wild (hence the backpack!), as opposed to cozy fantasy’s traditional focus on the home community. The stories often involve some danger, but as much or more time is spent discovering wondrous landscapes, communing with nature, and getting to know one’s traveling companions.”
So I sat down and let it loose and did my best to write a story that felt like taking a trek in Skyrim, though a bit cozier and less dangerous. Whenever I went to write, as always, I’d put on a few videos for inspiration. The first was a video of winter themed ambience and music from Skyrim, and the next, which really helped me get in the mood for the setting in the second half of the story, was ambience for a cozy cave in a snowy forest.
If you’ve read the story, I hope you found it to be a decent enough little yarn that let you escape the world for a short amount of time and lose yourself in a cozy adventure.
(Quick side note: If you love Skyrim and haven’t yet heard of Shirley Curry, the famous Skyrim Grandma, take a few minutes to check out her videos. I promise it will make your day!)