I chose a different type of setting for my fantasy novels Shards of History and Fractured Days because while I enjoy pseudo-medieval settings, I didn't want something that evoked images of castles and knights. I wanted something that reflected the American Southwest. And I wanted dragons. What better place for fire breathing dragons than the high desert, rolling plains, and mountains of the Southwest? When I look at the Sandia Mountains that border part of Albuquerque, I can easily imagine the huge beasts roosting there, hunting there, and swooping down from the craggy granite mountaintop.
The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings inspired the Jeguduns' homes in the cliffs surrounding the valley where much of the series takes place. The Jeguduns are winged, wolfish, humanoid creatures that are sort of like gargoyles in appearance and function. Making their homes in the middle of a cliff makes sense. Only they can easily get to their homes, making them easily defendable (a magic barrier prevents the dragons from getting to them).
The Valles Caldera in particular inspired the setting for the Taakwa Valley. It's a valley situated in a volcanic caldera near Los Alamos, New Mexico. My fictional valley is much, much bigger than the real caldera, but it was formed in the same way and also has hot springs. The flora and fauna are similar, and the homes that the Taakwa people build are reminiscent of pueblo style homes, mostly because the building materials are handy and plentiful.
The Taakwa remain in their valley home rather than live a nomadic life. They plant crops, gather, and hunt the animals that come through their valley. They normally have plenty of water due to a large river that cuts through the valley, along with its many tributaries. A couple of villages even have llamas, which not only provide wool, but also act as guard animals.
Sounds awesome! And be sure to look for Fractured Days on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and any other online retailers!
~!~ Amanda, Novel Addiction ~!~