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The making of the Time Lurkers The Spookiest Valentine – Naonian City, Europe (2- EN)

Never had the characters of my stories ever spent as much time in Naonian City as The Time Lurkers in The Time Lurkers -The Spookiest Valentine. While the quaint European city was already featured in past stories (such as The Time Lurkers in Past Christmas or -albeit only at the very beginning and at the very end- The Greek Adventures of Chiara and Naima), it wasn’t the main focus of the adventure. The characters usually left it to go on a quest around the world.

Sure, I wrote lower-stakes stories (slice of life or adventure stories) mostly set in Naonian City. However, keep in mind that for the characters to spend a lot of time in Naonian City, there has to be a time-consuming reason. And higher stakes to boot!

High school being the main one, as well as… a shady menace coming from the sewers, a hermaphrodite cowlamari (male squid=husband + female cow= wife) and a murder that took place in the 1980s.

Enough with that, let’s talk about Naonian City in general.

First off, Naonian City is located in a fictional European country called Naonshire in English and LatAm Spanish (Naonistan in French and Russian, Naonian State –Estado Naon– in Castilian Spanish and Brazilian and European Portuguese, Naonscirr’ in Italian). It’s actually the capital of said country. The city’s official languages are Naonian and Pig Latin, two made-up languages nobody really uses outside of school. Then, what do people there speak?

Actually, its citizens are all native speakers of the following languages: Cantonese, English, Finnish, French, Friulian, German, Hungarian, Inuit, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Venetian. The language they speak depends on the version you’re reading. In the English version they all speak English, in the Italian version they all speak Italian, and so on and so forth.

Yet, Naonian City and its nearby area are actually based off a real area in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia: the province of Pordenone. You could’ve easily guessed that by reading “Friulian” and “Venetian” among the (oh so many) native languages.

Arlequins (Heartaquins) are actually more based on Yokai than on the actual Italian mask.

So why did you create a fictional country instead of having the story take place in Italy?

Because…you see.. First of all, my characters live in a 2D world. Which is similar to our world, but has a couple of things you won’t find in our dimension. First of all, talking animals (both bipeds – Zola- and pets – Hegel the ghost hamster) and humanoid creatures such as mutants (like Miss Ionic), superheroes, talking brains with a life of their own (McMeow’s brain…Brian) and even zombies (Christian, aka Minerva’s undead twin brother). Then, technology’s a tad more advanced, as people can teleport or travel through time or across dimensions.
Second of all, I didn’t want my story to be set in Italy. No, I didn’t even want the city to be located in France, Germany, Spain, the UK or any other European country for that matter. I didn’t want to set the story in North America because, while that could’ve been the best choice for me, I’m European. I’m accustomed to the Old World way of living. And so…Naonshire (or Naonscirr’, Naonian State or Naonistan…) was born. A fictional country that’s clearly in Europe! And it completely replaces the real-life Provincia di Pordenone in Friuli. The country Naonshire is located where that Provincia is in our… eeeeeeexciting (just pretend it is, okay, you guys?)… dimension (also known as “the real world”). Friuli- Venezia Giulia still exists but it has only three provinces (Gorizia, Trieste and Udine)

Not only are Naonian citizens native speakers of various languages, their country’s also located in three cool geopolitical European associations! Listed below from most to least important.

  • The Disunited States of Europe – an association comprising the European countries that aren’t part of the European Union.
  • The Tri-State Area – basically three nearby countries. Austria (all of it), Italy (the Friuli and Veneto regions) and Naonshire. (That’s also a reference to a famous Western animated series.)
  • Quaterveneto (English) /Quadriveneto (Italian) – if Triveneto is a way to refer to the Italian regions of Friuli, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige/Sudtirol both in our world and in our characters’ world, Quaterveneto/Quadriveneto is a word used in our characters’ world to refer to the aforementioned Italian regions and Naonshire.

What makes Naonian City European?

Well, first thing first, its location. Naonian City, much life its real-world counterpart Pordenone, is located in a plain under a “bowl” created by the mountains (Platehourse = Plateau + Horse, Piancavallo in Italian and the Dolomites) to the north. Distances in Europe are actually quite small compared to distances in North America, Asia and Australia. Naonians can get on their car and go to the mountains or to the beach, as both are equally distant (30 minutes) from the capital city.

Being in mainland Europe, people drive on the right side of the road in Naonshire. Cities and town in the state have a main square with a Church. Catholicism is the predominant religion, even though people worship Buddha, Chuck Norris and Spongebob alongside God, Jesus and Catholic Saints. People’re (which means= humans, humanoids, anthropomorphic animals and talking pets) also aware of mythical creatures. Weird creatures inhabit every corner of their planet, even though some are region-specific. Arlequins, such as the four Heartaquins, are yokai-like creatures who inhabit Southern Europe and are the offspring of Arlequin (the famous Commedia dell’Arte mask).

Portici are another important feature of Naonian City and nearby towns landscapes. Portici are “a covered walkway in the form of a roof supported by columns or pillars, especially one built on to the exterior of a building” (source: thefreedictionary.com)

Food in Naonshire ranges from typical regional food such as polenta (with osei=birds or mushrooms), San Daniele ham, gubana, cevapcici, Risotto with Radicchio and typical drinks such as Spritz and Prosecco, to European-wide food like dumplings, moussaka, Pizza (Naonians also like pineapple on their pizza), pretzels, ratatouille, roastbeef and International dishes (brownies, cheviche, kebab, kimchi, noodles, sushi, tandoori chicken to name a few…). Name any dish from any country in the world, and you’ll sure find it in a Naonian restaurant.

The architectural landscape is similar to the rest of Mainland Europe, which means, apartment blocks and independent houses can be found next to each other (unlike in North America, which has only apartment blocks downtown and single houses in the outskirts or more remote areas). Most people live in apartment blocks and independent houses, while a few of them live in semi-detached or terraced houses. Population’s not evenly distributed between the city and countryside, as most people live in the city or in its outskirts.

People’re mostly White. However, Blacks and Asians live there as well among the most important minorities. Not all Whites are European, as some of them came back there from South America (like Minerva – daughter of a Naonian man who moved to Venezuela with his brother). Foreigners in the story are based on actual minorities from the real-life Pordenone area. Their situation in Naonian City also mirrors Pordenone’s.

Pordenone – Naonian City’s real-life inspiration
  • There were several Ghanians in Naonian City from the 1980s to mid 2010s. They made the biggest foreign community (aside from Eastern Europeans) in the country. However, most of them later moved to the UK and the Black community in Naonshire (and in its real life counterpart) has people from all over Africa nowadays. Some Black people are Naonian-born citizens (Naonshire’s legislation’s based on ius soli -one of the few European countries to be based on it), and other Blacks are from North America.
  • There are people from other areas of Europe, mostly Eastern Europe, but some Austrians as well!
  • While most Latin Americans (Argentinians and Venezuelans) who live in Naonian City are White, a few of them are Mestizos (children of Native Americans and White Immigrants in South America).
  • Many Chinese people opened their businesses in Naonshire. Mostly General stores. Jordan (Giordano in Italian) even got to be Naonshire’s most famous cameraman, working alongside the Lusophone Scotman (also known as “the Portuguese Highlander”), Weege McMeow.
  • Unfortunately, like in the real world, there are some Naonian who hate foreigners (or, like scoffing McMeow would say, “extra-Naonians”). Many people love foreign cultures, myself included. However, it’d be irrealistic not to include racism in a fictional world. Xenophobia’s a serious disease and it should be used as a plot point (and have the good guys fight against it, overcome it and calling out racists).

As for McMeow himself, he’s not depicted as good or bad, he’s an ambiguous guy who can be either morally corrupted or who teams up with the heroes as his own will. He just does what he thinks is best…for him (and him only).

John Giovanni and Miss Haferflocken… well, their real-life inspirations, at least!

Naonshire has also two popular singers of children’s songs in… the Italian-American John Giovanni (not mentioned in The Spookiest Valentine) and his colleague Miss Haferflocken (a Naonian woman of Austrian origins). They mostly sing the Opening and Ending themes of kids shows set in a 3D world (which is actually… our world…where animals don’t talk and people have five fingers per hand). Miss Haferflocken also starred as Lucia in the Kill Me Lucia telenovelas.

Naonians, like their Italian cousins, are also very into Eurodance and Italodance groups and projects. This is clearly reflected in the story’s soundtrack (including Eurodance hits in English and Italian by Bamble B, Eiffel 65 and the Prezioso brothers feat. Marvin).

Last but certainly not least, the main reason for the Time Lurkers to stay in Naonian City for most of their adventure is… High School.

So, how’s High School like in Naonian City? Well, there are five things in Naonian City that’re actually based on North America (mainly, on the States).

  1. Cheerleading. Yep, cheerleaders exist in Europe as well, even though the sport itself is not as popular as in the US. Cheerleading is extremely popular among college students at Naonian City’s university (Medunaburg’s University/ Università di Borgomeduna), even though high-schoolers seem to enjoy it as well.
  2. Middle/Junior High Schools and High Schools are like their Anglosaxon/North American counterparts. With lockers in the corridors and teachers with their own class (Minerva has her Spanish class, Miss Ionic has her P.E. class and so does Pecan).
  3. The Naonian State Building near Naonian City’s train stagion.
  4. Thanksgiving Day, which is… a festivity dedicated to Math. On Thanksgiving Day (the 4th Thursday of November), students nationwide have Math olympics and eat fortune cookies. Fortune cookies contain a small piece of paper with an equation/Math problem written on it, which kids’ve to solve. Those who cannot solve the problem in time or made too many mistakes, will spend Black Friday locked in a room with all the lights off!
  5. The Presidents of the Disunited States of Europe … but that’s for another post. Let’s just say that… *copyright strike incoming* on January 20 2021, Harry, a scarred Koala with a scar on his forehead became President of the Disunited States of Europe, being sworn in at the Whiten House in the Alps.

That’s all for today’s post. I hope you enjoyed this insight behind the characters and their world. Next time on Naonian City Tales –

The Making of The Time Lurkers The Spookiest Valentine – Concept art and experiences(3)

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