My guest today is debut author Amanda Bonilla. The first book in her new Shaede Assassin urban fantasy series, Shaedes of Gray, just launched on December 6, 2011. Please join me in welcoming Amanda here today to Dark Faerie Tales. You can read the first chapter of the book here.
Thanks to Amanda, one lucky commenter will have a chance to win a copy of the book. As always, details are listed at the end of the post.
First of all, thanks so much to Dark Faerie Tales for hosting me today! You are awesome!
World building can be one of the toughest obstacles for any fantasy writer. Not only do the rules for your world have to make some sort of sense, but you have to pull it all off in a way that allows the reader to suspend his or her disbelief for the duration of the novel.
When I wrote Shaedes of Gray, it was a 100% from the hip endeavor. I’d never plotted a novel before and I embraced the pantser style of writing, letting the story unfold as I typed the words. But as my amazing agent later pointed out, I’d left holes in the world building that needed to be filled. My foundation wasn’t quite strong enough and it took a couple of tries before those building blocks were solid enough. Since writing the first book in the Shaede Assassin series, I’ve become more of a plotter. It becomes necessary when outlines need to be turned in before the novel is written. And along with embracing the plotter’s way, I’ve learned to be a more comprehensive and thorough world builder.
I have a pretty over-active imagination. I built my Shaedes, Lyhtans, Jinn, and Oracles from the ground up, giving them their own creation myths, abilities, and weaknesses. When I plot, it’s not a restrictive endeavor. I craft a very loose outline to give myself a little breathing room and the first thing I work on is the world building. I usually use poster board, but my husband bought me a nice white board for Christmas last year that I use as well. I get funny looks from guests and repairmen when they come over and see the large white cardboard hanging on various walls. I have two in the den, one in my bedroom, and I used to have one in my dining room (I get antsy and have to walk to think, sometimes). One board is completely devoted to world building. This is when I break out the color-coded sticky notes. The top row of colored notes represents the characters. Under each character’s name, I add new notes (different colors of course) that list what creature the character is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and what its relationship to the other characters is. After that, I’ll make special notes about the character’s diet, job (if they have one), how they live or make money (if they don’t have a job), if they speak another language, and how to best kill them (my MC is an assassin, after all).
The toughest thing about world building is forgetting that there are no restrictions. As the author, I’m in charge of each creature’s heritage, physique, diet, hair and skin color, language… In the first draft of Shaedes of Gray, my Shaedes didn’t eat. Anything. Not at all. And as I started writing the second half of the novel, I realized that I’d restricted my character’s personality by not allowing her to eat. So of course, I went back and revised. With my Lyhtans, I knew they ate, but I never thought about what. That is, until my agent asked, “What does a Lyhtan eat, anyway?” It ended up being the million-dollar question. In crafting a response, I realized that I didn’t know nearly enough about these creatures. And from there, an entire tragic backstory was born.
There are some pretty basic questions that should be answered right away in establishing the world-building in an urban fantasy. The first and most important is: What is the supernatural community’s relationship to the human population? In Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, the supernatural world has been exposed to the human populace, and part of the story arc deals with how the two factions learn to live harmoniously. In Richelle Mead’s Succubus series, the supernaturals live in secret, perfectly happy with the rest of the populous not knowing of their existence. Personally, I’m a fan of the whole keeping-the-supernatural-world-a- secret. Next, you have to establish a societal structure. Do your supernaturals govern themselves in a democracy? Monarchy? Dictatorship? And how does each faction or kingdom exist in relationship to one another? Do they live in the world as we know it today? Or in a fictional city like Kalayna Price’s Nekros City. Once the societal structure is set, you can move on to each individual creature or species and go from there. World building in fantasy is like constructing a pyramid. You have to have a sturdy base in order to build up.
What are your favorite books in terms of world-building? Do you prefer your supernatural creatures “out” living in the open? Or would you rather have them hiding their existence from humanity?
Thanks again to Dark Faerie Tails for hosting me today!
Amanda Bonilla lives in rural Idaho with her husband and two kids. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves the outdoors, black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.
Want to read more from Amanda Bonilla?
This giveaway is provided by Amanda Bonilla
One winner will receive a copy of Shaedes of Gray: A Shaede Assassin Novel
by Amanda Bonilla
Available on December 6, 2011 from Penguin/Signet Books
About the Book:
In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.
When Darian’s next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she’s taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished…
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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