Imaginary Countries, or are they?
So I think what we're really doing is visiting my 'imaginary' countries – only the two main ones. The earlier was Koura, which is a republic with an Atlantic coast, population around 10 million, 94000 km2, a monarchy until the 19th century, upheaval during the 1970s ... remind you of anywhere? Portugal perhaps? It’s also about the same shape if you turned Portugal on its end and flipped it side to side. (P’gal remained a monarchy until slightly into the 20th but never mind. The language situation is also different). I think given the timescale, me having invented it during the mid-70s, when Portugal would have been in the news due to the Carnation Revolution, basing it on that fine country makes sense.
The other one ... now this is more complex. In the 1990s I wrote a story called “Loving the Alien,” set in a wartorn and mountainous country and specifically in the city of Serimban. My friend and fellow-writer Gus Smith pointed out that it was clearly referring to the Yugoslav Wars.
Later on this little state found its way into somewhere called Kazlar, supposedly a former Soviet state in the Caucasus, a small country remarkable for its open border policy, mountainous and riverine, full of strange legends. Except that its being in the Caucasus doesn't really make sense. There's nowhere for it to be.
But if you put it in the Balkans, i.e. the former Yugoslavia, and you look for a small country full of mountains, a new state opening itself to the world -
well, you have Montenegro.
The Kazlari flag is white over black over green, the black and green symbolising mountains and forests. The name 'Montenegro' refers to the forested mountains being so dark green they look black. (the white in the flag either references snow or completes a rebus: “Peace over mountain and forest.”). Closer and closer.
There's a third which is ill-defined, a sort of attempt to move Koura eastwards so it's a kind of enlarged and more urban Kazlar, but it doesn't really work. It was also supposed to be Catalan-speaking. If you had a Catalan takeover c. 14th century of an area of Northern Serbia or Southern Romania – possibly the Banat Republic around Timisoara – then that would be it. Definitely post-Austro-Hungarian Empire, everybody's favourite entity who likes olde worlde Europe. I can't see where that country would be, possibly the Czech Republic; like I say, it's ill-defined.