Today, Mayandree Michel has stopped by A Backwards Story to share how she came up with the world for her debut novel, BETRAYAL, the first in THE DESCENDANTS trilogy. She discusses world-building, one of the most important components of any good, compelling novel.
BETRAYAL can be purchased as an e-book (for 99¢, what a steal!) or a paperback from sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Today’s blog tour stop also features an interview with BETRAYAL cover designer Samantha Oyola and a review of BETRAYAL for Mythological Mondays!
I wanted the fantasy world of the Ischeros, the descendants of the twelve Olympians, to come alive in the reader’s mind and be tangible and real. World building in fantasy is imperative because it allows a writer to bring a visual reality to the world contained in the novel.
My book is set is in the overlapping time periods of the western gold rush and the stylish and elegant Victorian era. In order to allow readers to experience the time and place I visualized, I studied the Victorian time period and how the standards of behavior influenced the culture and customs of people living in tiny western towns during the gold rush. Then I worked on the basics like climate and geography, and mapping out the fictitious town of Nickel City.
After the setting and premise is chosen, the actual world building gets trickier because detail is paramount. In creating the world of the Ischeros, I used what I knew of established Greek mythology as well as plenty of other folklore and myths to make their world magic-rich. This included each family of descendant’s individual powers. I had to make a decision about magic. How much is there? Who uses it? What are the rules governing it? How do the characters feel about it?
I set up all the rules and expectations for the Ischeros families, Apolluon shadows / vampires and mortals, which had to be consistent and coherent so that I wouldn’t confuse the reader. I was advised by a generous friend who is also a writer that all this had to be established before actually writing the story. Boy, am I glad I took her advice because once the rules were in place, it was still tricky keeping track of all the details at times. My memory is shot after having two kids, so I don’t trust myself to remember a thing. I kept a three subject spiral notebook close by along with organized notes tacked on a corkboard to stay consistent with the elements of the story.
Well executed world building adds a sense of depth to the writing and relevant details make the story tangible for the reader. Little things like the symbolic medallions worn by the Ischeros, the gods disguised as monuments, even the element of time travel, which unlocks limitless possibilities, enrich the story. Most fantasy writers will agree that world building is time consuming, but I enjoy creating magic that suspends the reader’s sense of disbelief while they are consumed with the story and elaborate cultures within historical settings. In my opinion, I think world building is one of the most fun aspects of fantasy writing.
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This contest will run until June 1, 2011.