Today I’m participating in a blog hop to celebrate the release of Janeen Ippolito’s new writing craft book: Irresistible World Building. Janeen gave those of us participating in this blog hop some questions that showcase what is awesome about our world building.
So, please allow me to share some background and insight into Ariboslia, the world I created for my (soon-to-be) three book series, starting with Astray. To give you some context, here’s the back cover blurb:
After a lifetime with no knowledge of her parents, troubled seventeen-year-old Fallon Webb receives a necklace once belonging to her mother. The amulet leads her on a life-changing journey to a foreign land where she encounters unusual creatures, shape-shifters, and something she’s always longed for—family.
In Ariboslia, she learns her mother is alive. Vampire-like creatures have her and many others captive. Most distressing is the prophecy that devastated her family. Can she trust it? Because if it’s right, Fallon must destroy the vampires’ leader—her uncle—to rescue her mother and free her people from the threat.
Unprepared and afraid, Fallon sets out on the journey with no skills to assist her quest and no other way home. In her travels, she learns about the One True God and how desperately she needs Him. Perhaps, with His help, she’ll find the way to fulfill her destiny.
1. Name your spec fic subgenre!
2. Why this subgenre? What makes it awesome?
The best part of fantasy is the other-worldly feel. When I read, I prefer not to be transported to another world entirely. An unusual place where I never know what might happen next. Where I never know what’s lurking around the corner. I love being surprised by an author’s imagination.
3. How is your world building just as cool as in these books—if not cooler?
I wouldn’t say my world is cooler than Narnia. But one of the things I love most about Narnia is the explanation for all the worlds as mentioned in the first book: The Magician’s Nephew. That’s what I love most about Ariboslia—the explanation. As I was researching selkie and other gaelic myths I thought to myself, “What if such creatures weren’t made up? What if they were real? What if humans revered them as gods (as was the case much of the time). How would God respond? Would He wipe them out? Possibly. But what if He decided to put them somewhere else? What if He created another realm for them and transplanted them? And voilà—Ariboslia was born. And I couldn’t stop visiting…
4. What is fresh and different about your world building that hasn’t been done before?
I think the way I handle vampires (fasgadair) is different—but you have to read the book to find out how.
5. What universal feelings do you explore in your world building—and why?
A need to belong and be loved. Much of the purpose of this book is to share the answer to that need.
6. What cool superpowers does your character have related to your world building?
I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read Astray. But let’s just say: She was created for such a time as this. I have an explanation as to how she came to have these abilities as well. But it goes back to her grandparents which I don’t think I’ll get into in the stories. Someday I’d like to write a prequel. I may be one of the few, but I love explanations.
7. What are three favorite aspects of your story’s culture?
There were a few things I wanted to do with this story:
- Share Biblical truth in a fun, palatable way. The underlying message in my story is that you are loved. But I sprinkle other nuggets of truth throughout the story.
- Put vampires in their place. I confess: I loved Interview with a Vampire, Twilight (books…not the movies) and Vampire Diaries. Such stories were my guilty pleasure. So, I can relate to those who might entertain the idea of becoming one (if they existed). But they’re demons. I felt compelled to write a story that put them back in their rightful place.
- Share redemption. I know…this could go under number 1 as it is a major Biblical truth. But I really wanted everyone to know that anyone can be saved. There is no one who is beyond God’s reach. Basically, I wrote a story I wish I’d had when I was a teen.
8. Tell us about an aspect of your world that causes problems for your characters. Any dangerous weather patterns or geographical complications?
The weather and geographical complications show up in book II (which is still in rough draft form). For book I, the biggest issues are racial tensions and the fasgadair. They’re vampire-like creatures. Again, I have an explanation for their existence: During the clan wars, two women decided to help their cause and resurrected Morrigan, the battle queen. But only God can fully resurrect life. So, when she returned from the ashes, she was half-dead. The first fasgadair. Since then, the fasgadair have spread. By the time Astray opens, Ariboslia is plagued by them.
9. Are there any cultural or racial tensions? What are they?
Yes. There are a few different races in Ariboslia:
- Pech. To put it simply, they’re short people who have abilities with stone. They were the original race.
- Gachen (an anagram for change). They’re shapeshifters who God transported to Ariboslia because people revered them as gods. The pech didn’t appreciate their arrival.
- Selkie. Gachen who transform into seals. Gachen and selkie can’t be together. They will have more of a presence and tensions among their race will be revealed in book II.
When the gachen were transported to Ariboslia, they were all believers in the One True God. They knew what happened to them and Who was in control. But, over time, some of the clans drifted away and began delving into dark arts and worshipping false gods. This led to the clan wars which brought about the fasgadair. Tensions continue between the clans, but they’re attempting to work together against the fasgadair.
10. If you could take any part of your world building and make it into a giveaway item, what would it be?
I would love to have stuffed animals of my characters that turn inside out and become their animal totem. I’d never thought of that until now. But how cool would that be?
11. Name at least two aspects of your world building that you want in the Real World RIGHT NOW?
The two things I love most about my world both stem from the same thing, Ariboslia is undefiled due to the lack of technology. Why is this good?
- People actually communicate…with each other…in person.
- They don’t live in a toxic environment like we do. Their food and air are pure. No chemicals. Nothing processed. I allude to this in small ways, such as Fallon’s normally acne prone face being clear. Despite what she goes through, she’s healthier than she’s ever been in her life.
12. What are two aspects of your world building that you never want to see in the Real World?
- I would never want fasgadair to exist among us.
- I would never want fasgadair to exist among us.
Yes, I did that on purpose…
13. Is there any physical item from your world building that would make a big splash in our world?
Drochaid—an amulet that interprets language so that the wearer can communicate with people of other languages. It also allows for travel through the megaliths between realms and, when God uses it, acts as a GPS. So, the second two abilities might not work here, but a communication device would be a big deal.
14. What is your favorite made-up creature from your world?
I personally like the fur dragon. He’s basically a furry lizard that quacks. He has no real purpose other than to remind readers they’re not in Kansas anymore. But there is an incident that arises in book II that involves a fur dragon…sort of.
15. If you could fix anything about your world building (something that is broken “on purpose” for plot reasons), what would it be?
I would break down the racial tensions and have everyone follow God. But then, although it would a fabulous place to visit, there’d be no story.
16. Share a short excerpt from your story that shows off really cool world building.
While I awaited the mystery girl’s return, I inspected the sea-blue and ivory room. A candle chandelier hung from the lofty ceiling. The canopy bed, bedecked in luxurious ivory bedding, nearly touched the ceiling. I wanted nothing more than to snuggle up on it and sleep for hours.
A fish swam past the window.
“What in the world?” I peeked out into what I had mistaken for a blue sky to find many multicolored fish in varying shapes and sizes. Was I under the sea? Was this one of those underwater cities? Was the girl a selkie? I opened the door she’d gone through and found a long empty hallway. Where had she gone?
17. Tell us about a worldbuilding element you’re proud of even if it doesn’t make it much into the story itself.
I love that there is a ridiculous amount of backstory that explains all that I’ve come up with. It helps me keep everything straight. Also, even though the reader might never know it all, it makes the story more believable. And that’s part of the goal, to get readers to suspend their disbelief so they can enjoy a fantastic journey to another realm.
Thanks, Janeen, for allowing me to participate in this blog hop and share the most enjoyable aspect of writing: world building.
I received a free copy of Janeen’s book: Irresistible World Building. Her book includes some great tips for building a realistic world. But what I enjoyed most was the way her ideas and questions sparked my imagination and revealed a few changes I want to make for book II. Here’s more about her book:
Write stories with worlds that create lifelong fans and fandoms!
Irresistible World Building for Unforgettable Stories contains key methods and tips on how to weave your world building into every aspect of your story, from theme to plot to character arcs.
-Use writing prompts and exercises to jumpstart your creativity
-Get ideas on how to refresh world building genre tropes while still hitting reader sweet spots
-Learn to embrace your inner geek and passions to connect your world building with readers
Vivid world building is great. Vivid world building that sells? Even better!
Get your copy!
More about the author:
Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She creates writing resources and writes urban fantasy and steampunk. She’s also an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, and the editor in chief of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, food, and making brownie batter. She believes that words transform worlds and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her website: janeenippolito.com
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