19 December 2011
A World of Our Own
Welcome to the world. Which world would that be exactly? Well, that’s the question isn’t it? We open a book, turn on a show, or sit back as the lights dim in a theater, and wait to find out which world we’ll be transported to next.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 10,000 years in the past, or 10,000 years into the future, we want the storyteller to transport us so thoroughly that we feel we’ve known this place all along. We recognize the elements, and the players, and like the lives we live every day, we wait for the moment of the extraordinary in the ordinary, and the mundane in the fantastic.
We fall in love with shadow governments, interstellar galactic battles, hidden paranormal subcultures, alternate historical records, time traveling archeologist, dimension hopping demons, immortal brooding heroes and prophecy defying heroines, all because someone makes us believe. We care about the people and we see how their world has shaped them, even as our world has shaped us. And there’s the interesting point, our world shapes us, but our world is not the same as the person next to us.
Everything we read and watch, absolutely everything, has built a new version of the world as experienced by the protagonist. A dying and broke chemistry teacher forced to cook meth in the desert, is as foreign, as an amoral vampire choosing a new beloved and changing a child to create an immortal family, is familiar. In the former, the worldbuilding is invisible, but crucial, due to it’s familiarity within the foreign decisions of the protagonist. In the latter, it’s obvious, the fantastical elements setting it apart, but it ultimately relies on its subtleties and familiar human story for its strength.
In a series, the challenge comes not only in building the world, but in showing it as both a constant and evolving concept from the protagonist’s point of view. My TherianWorld faces this challenge on two levels. Each of the paranormal romances deals with a different triad who relates to the shifter dominated world based on their own breeds and experiences. They are lighter and relationship focused, like many of our own lives. The urban fantasy on the other hand is darker, harsher and as they say, there will be blood.
But has the world changed? No, not at all. The perception of it has turned on its side, very much as my view of the world in day to day life is different from a soldier deployed overseas, or a police officer in the inner city of Chicago. We see the world from where we stand in it. As a federal agent specialized in retrieval and assassination, the world has a vastly different filter for Dante, than for any other hero or heroine I’ve written in the romances to date—and it should. But as the relationships in her life move to the forefront, her filter will be altered. The trick is to show that the world is constant and she is changing within it. I look forward to pulling it off. Wish me luck.