I’m not your typical fantasy writer in that I sit and dream up worlds, then write within them. I start with characters, situations, and then flesh out the world as my characters explore it. In writing my fantasy romance series, the Madion War Trilogy, I was faced with a few unique challenges when it came to worldbuilding.
Issue #1: The whole Island Thing
First and foremost, the biggest issue to worldbuilding was trying to describe a world before we got shut off from it. In The Island, my characters Theo and Galian are marooned on an island at the end of chapter two. That gave me one whole opening chapter to set the stage before making it disappear.
While I did some preliminary worldbuilding up front, I left a lot of the nuances in the world to later dialogue. I like to think of The Island as a book of conversations. I mean, let’s be real: there’s not much else to do when you’re stranded on a deserted island. Within the phrases and perspectives that Galian and Theo have, the world becomes even more fleshed out. And then, when we finally get to see the worlds in person in books 2 and 3, it’s somewhat familiar.
Issue #2: Perspectives
One of my favorite aspects of this series is the idea of perspective. Two people can look at the same event and have wildly different reactions to it. Even in the opening chapter, Galian refers to the war as their colony uprising and Theo describes it as the war of independence. The hardest part for the two of them is to come to agreement on these basic perspectives. And that makes for a challenge.
Just as in real life, fantasy worlds are rarely exactly as our protagonists thinks they are. I love fantasy books that build themselves as utopias, only to pull the curtains back and showcase the undercurrent. Theo, in particular, goes through this realization in the second book.
Issue #3: Countries, Borders, Oh My!
After I’d finished The Island, I had some fun making a map for the trilogy. I envisioned Kylae being a giant continent, overshadowing Rave in size and wealth, but equal to Herin and Jervan. I ended up using pieces of a camouflage pattern to create the continents themselves and some mapmaking paintbrushes to add mountains, rivers, and forests. Add on some texture and voila!
Creating the map was helpful when I started writing the second book because it allowed me to look at the big picture. Lakner is more north than Veres in Rave, but much like London is the beneficiary of warmer weather than, say Massachusetts (as the early European visitors found out), I decided to devise a warmer weather stream that brings up warm moist air. When Theo and Galian go to Lakner, they both comment on how much warmer it is than Rave and Kylae.
Want to know more? Check out the Madion War Trilogy by clicking on the covers below.
The Island is now a free download on all eBookstores, and The Union (Book 3) is now available for preorder.