Tuesday, February 7, 2012

World-Building: Guest Post and Giveaway with Charlotte E. English

Special thanks to Charlotte for providing the guest post below, as well as the giveaway!

On Fantasy World-Building

I've been a lifelong fan of fantasy fiction. Perhaps that isn't saying much given that I've yet to reach my thirtieth year, but nonetheless I've read an awful lot of it. I still love it and read it very regularly, but there are some things about the genre that I stopped loving some time ago.

The biggest of those is traditional fantasy world-building. "Traditional" fantasy books are usually inspired by Tolkien, to a greater or a lesser extent, and tend to feature worlds based on Medieval Europe. The most advanced technology you're likely to encounter there is a crude ox-drawn plough; horses are the only form of transport other than walking; vehicles consist of farm carts and not much else. Everybody wears tunics, drinks mead and spends a lot of time at taverns.

I don't say this to disparage Medievalesque fantasy (or at least, not too much). I've read and enjoyed a lot of it. But for the last few years I've been searching, with limited success, for fantasy books that take advantage of the sheer possibilities of the genre. After all, it's fantasy; we can do whatever we want with it. The worlds we could build are limited only by the strength of our imagination.

This, then, was one of the first things I thought about when I began working on Draykon at the end of 2010. One of my favourite works of classic fantasy has always been Alice in Wonderland, and what I love about that book is the perfect illogic of the world. There are surprises around every corner; you never know what might happen next in Wonderland. If I was going to design a fantasy world, I wanted one full of whimsy and strange beauty, an unpredictable place where just about anything could happen.

In the end I created a few connected worlds. In Draykon, my characters inhabit a relatively stable "Middle Realm" which is nonetheless unusual: some parts of the world are always sunlit, other areas are always in the dark. Trees might be trees as we think of them, or they might be more like giant mushrooms. And why settle for rabbits and horses and dogs when I could have ortings and gwaystrels and whistworms? Creatures with candy-striped hides and vibrant personalities to match are quite common in the Seven Realms.

Alongside the Middle Realm lie the Upper Realm and the Lower Realm. The one is, correspondingly, always light; in the other it's always night. And they're unstable. The landscapes in those worlds change all the time; you never know quite what you're going to get if you're brave enough to visit. In rendering these worlds and my heroes' adventures within them, I can honestly say I've never had so much fun writing in my life.

I'm nearing the end of the Draykon series as I write this. The third book is almost written, which draws this particular story to a close. But it won't be the end of whimsical world-building for me. Having once abandoned the disappointingly predictable rules upon which many fantasy worlds are based, there's no going back to taverns and tunics!

Charlotte writes fantasy/science fiction stories which blend eccentric world-building, mystery, romance and humour. Born and raised in England, she now lives in the Netherlands with her partner and two mildly demonic cats. She’s also an avid reader, text gamer, seamstress and cook. Her first novel, Draykon, is now available as an e-book from Amazon and Smashwords.

Two winners will receive a digital copy of Draykon for their e-reader!
I liked this a lot, you can see my review here if you want to know more about the book.


Giveaway ends February 15, 2012.


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