Searlait Nitschke, the creator of Roawenwood and the sponsor and sim builder of Mourningvale Thicket, shares with us how it is to build Fairelands, her reasons to relay, her reasons to build and the depth behind the story of Mourningvale Thicket.
This is not the first time you have created a Fairelands sim — a fantasy world — out of nothing in a short span of months and nerves. How does it feel like? What made you return and do it all over again?
It can feel overwhelming but it’s a thrill at the same time. Picking a concept, an idea… then hoping that you can bring it to life or give it justice. Sometimes it can get a little frightening feeling if I can’t find the hook or the way to bring it all together the way that I want in my head. The ideas and concepts float around trying to take root and until that one little piece that you’re looking for starts to work it feels like it’s just floating and I need to find the anchor. Frustrating in that sense and right beforehand no one sleeps, we’re all working trying to bring it all to life and that is part of why I came back to do it again. The team, the camaraderie, the cause… RFL is very important to me. Being able to bring a small world to life, to try to convey a vision.
How many Fairelands have you built? Tell us about them, is there something that ties them together as a theme, as a development?
This is my second. The first had a lot of trees without leaves too but a lot of evergreens and such as well. It was a wintery themed sim. Tree city type thing, everything raised up off of the ground with platforms, ribbons, crystals, velvet and such. Snowy, and beautiful. I tend to dedicate my RFL builds to someone or something or an idea. It was for a few reasons… which I wrote up last year.
Probably easier to link it than try to explain it all again, it is far too easy for me to get wordy. The winter has a special meaning for me as do the trees and forests. The thing that ties them together, I’m not sure. That I try to convey feeling in my builds, a sense of wonder perhaps. Until I can find the sense of wonder it doesn’t feel quite right.
How did you begin building in Second Life? What inspires you to create?
I began building in SL almost as soon as I joined it. Not really on purpose but I couldn’t stand not having a place to ‘live’ so within a week or two I had purchased land through Anshe Chung, very big name at the time, on the side of a mountain on a Gothic zoned sim. So of course then I needed to get a house, furnish it, and most of the time I am not entirely happy with the things that I find. I’m particular, so I figured out how to do it myself. Before I was in SL I was in chats that used webpages for their backgrounds and learned all sorts of web design, paint shop, how to run a website, a database and tons of other things to create an immersive type place to live there. I had also been in a 3d platform called Activeworlds, we had a world for awhile because I just don’t like to do things small. I ‘built’ there too, creating an interactive environment so when I found Second Life it really was not a shocker that I was really really intrigued to figure out building and to take it up a notch. I felt like I could really create more in Second Life and give it the life that I wanted.
I’m inspired by almost anything. Feelings, desires, passion… the way the light filters through the leaves or the sound of the wind blowing. People can inspire me. An idea, a thought, wanting to give back and make their experience more enjoyable. I love seeing what people come up with when they use something I created. You never really know where your things might end up in here and the stories can be quite interesting, or the environments. From one end of the spectrum to the other what people can come up with can be truly amazing to watch. I love seeing it. When I am in a truly creative place and I’m making something that feels ‘inspired’ whether it is a furniture set or a piece of clothing I tend to try to place myself or the creation within a scenario of my own making and then get that feeling across. There’s a difference when I feel like I am making an item because it is expected or part of someone else’s plans and when I have that little thrill that runs through me when it just feels right. Finding that thrill is partly what inspires me, it’s fairly addicting. Almost like a drug.
What are you bringing to the Faire this year?
Mostly… the sim. As I create the environment I tend to make pieces that will be given in the hunts, or sold at the auctions. This year for the hunts I’ve placed a couple items, a wagon you won’t see on the sim and some decorated lanterns.
And for the Silent Auction I’m adding the jail scene from the sim. It won’t be resold or placed in the store after this more than likely. A nice little souvenir for someone if they want it.
My RFL items are a few things at the moment but I intend to place at least one more before we’re all said and done. A set of shoes that weren’t released before: (though the black had been part of an event back in Nov. I almost kept them out of things due to that but decided it was too nice a color to do that. The rest are brand new and not released before)
A set of wagons and then a decorated jeweled belt. As you can see I’m fairly all over the place, whatever I like I make so I make a lot of different things.
What calls you to fantasy? When was the first time you encountered the genre and realized you enjoyed it?
I’ve always been called to fantasy. I remember my first book of fairy tales when I was 3. I remember in 6th grade writing and illustrating my own fantasy tales with dreams of creating worlds with words to share and bring people into them. Wanting to give back the feelings that authors created for me when they wove a spell drawing me into their fantasies. Almost any genre, I wasn’t picky really but fantasy. Myth. Things where gods were created and creatures you couldn’t imagine caught my attention so I think that I have always been fascinated by it… the idea of things bigger than me, that nothing really is unreasonable or unreachable if you can imagine it. If you can let it live, breathe, and not be afraid of it then it is all possible. Fantasy allows us to dream, and to create dreams.
What are you looking forward to most this year?
The sharing, the environments, the people, the coming together. I think I am hoping that people ‘get’ what I tried to do with my sim too. I’ve already had some amazing feedback and in one instance…. a profoundly personal look into someones feelings, things that are tough to deal with on any level. The faire to me isn’t about the shopping. It isn’t even entirely about the sims though they play a big part. It isn’t about the profits made, or anything like that. It isn’t about the outfits, the accessories, it isn’t about the money though the donations are of course very important.
Fantasy Faire is, for me and to me, the one of the few times of the year that we end up feeling like something bigger than us is taking shape to help shape the lives of other people. It’s big. Epic in it’s own right. I meet and talk to more people within that week or two than I do any other time of the year and for the most part it is all because we come together to do something. To fight for a cause. To help each other. The sims are the backdrop, the background where the dreams and fantasies… the crazy avatars, all of the different things come together briefly in a way that just doesn’t seem to happen that often. We play, we laugh, we do things together… every year I look forward to that. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas and then I get to wander, eyes wide with wonder watching, listening, soaking it in. It’s phenomenal.
How was Mourningvale Thicket born? What inspired it, what is its story?
Before the faire started I wrote up something for my store blog talking about the sim. What inspired it, and how it came to be. Its story and its purpose. I’m going to paste that here and leave a link because I don’t think I could recount it much better than this.
“Fantasy Faire is just about here. It opens on the first of May to benefit RFL (Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society).
Each year for the past two I wrote up a little blurb to post on the blog about the faire after it was over. It is like a yearly peek inside what makes Sear tick, a cleansing, and some of what I am behind the screen along with a fair amount of theatrics as I describe the experience or inspiration involved. I don’t know if I will end up writing another snippet at the end of the faire this year… it seems to be something of a tradition since this time of year is very emotional for me. However I feel like I need to write already…. This year I want to share and reflect before the gates even open. As the faire goes on I’m sure there will be shifts and thoughts that come about but I want to share the inspiration and the dedication of the sim before we all get going in a whirlwind trying to experience every moment, trying to catch up and finish before it opens. With all of the stress, all of the anxiety, all of the expectations, and work I want to take a moment and I’m bringing you along with me. I know now is not the best time as we try to finalize everything but you never really know when that time might come again so I have learned to take life in the moment.
Mourningvale Thicket isn’t meant to be epic. It isn’t meant to be impressive. It isn’t meant to use the latest mesh or the latest greatest thing that SL has to offer in the way of shinies. It isn’t meant to push envelopes, it isn’t meant to make you catch your breath in awe or in wonder staring up at a magnificent build.
It is meant to make you feel.
It is chaotic in places. It is dark and raw. It is ruined, dead and has a sense of foreboding.
It also has life. Music, love, laughter and celebration.
From one extreme to the other Mourningvale Thicket is meant to take you on a journey. It is not just a shopping sim, I know this is a faire and I know this is meant to be a place to shop and spend your lindens but it is not just that, at least…. Not if I have my way.
In some ways it is understated and on purpose.
It is meant to on some level make you uncomfortable in spots. It is the sort of place that in some areas the darkness has overcome, the curse has taken hold… death and decay with ruins dotting the landscape of blackened earth and jagged rock are the things you will encounter.
There is hope.
Places where life has begun to spring back fighting back against the curse that has most of the land in its grasp.
There is regrowth.
There is celebration.
Depending on how you travel the sim there is a remarkable difference in what you will encounter first.
If you come from an adjoining sim you will be met with darkness.
If you travel in from a portal or landmark you will be met with life.
The extremes can be traveled as you walk along the paths.
Imagine walking from the sim next door met with dead trees, jagged rock, overgrown grass and ruins. Gnarled roots, black trees reaching up leafless to the sky… the sort of place that as a child you avoided your parents admonishing you that the creatures within might spirit you away into the darkness never to be seen again. Subdued one almost wants to whisper as you walk past the ruined buildings. Someone lived here once or it seems like they must have but their story has long been forgotten the cursed earth keeping its secrets locked in the darkness. There are times when you might be tempted to run back the way you came not wanting to travel further but if you keep going with a little bit of faith you will be met with hope. You begin to see renewed signs of life. Roses begin to grow amongst some of the ruins and craggy rock. The thorns are less dangerous looking. A people have decided to try to combat the darkness building their homes amongst the brambles and dead branches. Colorful and full of life they begin to beat back the darkness taking shelter on the outer edges of the cursed woods welcoming you to continue down the path.
If you keep moving forward through the darkness, through the ruins, through the thorns a clearing opens. Small flags sway gently in the breeze; trees have begun to regain their leaves even if still dark and grass is growing beneath your feet as you take in your surroundings. Laughter, celebration… Life. Firelight and campfires keep the shadows at bay, the night safe – the Thicket a place of warmth once more in this small pocket.
Mourningvale Thicket might mean different things to different people and it might mean nothing at all but when I decided to take on this design I wanted to create a world where even in the darkest corners there is hope and light, life amongst struggle, a balance… a journey.
I have been touched many times by cancer, loved ones struggling for life, some surviving… some succumbing to the harshness of it. I have watched a loved one slowly wither away from bone cancer crying out in pain, and I’ve seen a family member struggle for breath when his lungs were invaded by it hunched over powerless to help. I have also embraced and celebrated those who have survived and are still with us.
My sim this year is dedicated to those people.
The survivors, and to those we have lost. It is dedicated in loving memory to an uncle, to a grandfather, and to an aunt who has survived. It is dedicated to the journey that we go upon through our daily lives with the struggles, the darkness… the pain and the harshness… the light, the laughter and the music. To the lives we lead and the moments along the way that define us carrying us towards our journey’s end.
I invite you to join me this faire season in supporting a cause close and dear to my heart. To relay, and to make a difference in someone’s life.
Thank you, for sharing these moments with me and I hope you truly have a wondrous faire experience this year.”
Thank you, Searlait, for sharing your vision, your feelings with us and making them tangible within the Thicket.