Serena Chase is the author of the Eyes of E’veria series. The Ryn (March 2013) and The Remedy (April 2013), are an expanded re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White & Rose Red and are available for Kindle and Kindle apps. You can connect with Serena by “liking” her on Facebook, following her on Twitter, and catch up with her book reviews, author interviews, and the occasional feature article at USA Today’s Happy Ever After or the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog. Her website is www.serenachase.com and she also has an Eyes of E’veria board on Pinterest featuring images that remind her of books 1 & 2 and continue to inspire her as she writes books 3 & 4.
Six Snags and Snares of Creating a Fantasy World
by Serena Chase
I am in awe of historical fiction authors who are passionate about researching the intricate details of a specific place and time. Maybe it’s my fear of screwing something up, or perhaps it is simply that my attention span for research could rival your average 6-year-old after inhaling a couple of Pixie Sticks, but . . . that sort of writing is not for me.
No, I would much rather invent the world, the details, the geography, landscape, and history of a place. That way, critics can’t question my world and its history unless I write something really stupid (which, unfortunately, can happen due to my limited knowledge base on subjects such as physics, among other things.) But even world invention can get dicey sometimes. Below, I’ve listed a few snags and snares an author of fantasy must try to avoid whenever possible.
- Geography & Topography
I cannot tell you how many roughly sketched maps of E’veria and her provinces I’ve drawn. (Nor will I show you any of them—because my sketching abilities pretty much hit their apex around third grade.) Numerous times, while writing The Remedy (Eyes of E’veria, book 2), I had to go back and count E’veria’s provinces, estimate travel times based upon journeys in The Ryn (book 1), and remind myself of where I was and what it should look like.
It is a hallmark of fantasy literature to have characters and locations with weird names. When minor characters reappear after an absence, they’re not as near-to-your-heart as the protagonists, so you have to make sure you get everything about them correct, including their voice, appearance, and the sometimes-odd spelling of their name. Mess something up, and a discerning reader will call you on it. Likewise, with names of buildings, nations, provinces, cities and villages, ships, bodies of water . . . the list of possible author-snags concerning how one names her world and those in it could go on and on.
- Societal Mores
To some extent, the setting of the novel will prescribe what sort of moral code, class system, and gender roles must be applied to the story, but there is quite a bit of leeway in the fantasy genre, simply due to world building, but whatever rules your society and characters live by must be consistent throughout the novel or the reader just won’t buy it. For example, The Remedy has much more violence and battle than The Ryn, but had Rynnaia all of a sudden been equipped to do battle alongside the knights, it would not have been true to her character’s journey. She was neither brought up to have those skills, nor was it expected of her. But as the heroine, she couldn’t be a fainting wallflower, awaiting the big strong men to come and save her, either, so I had to come up with a way that her contribution to the final victory was vital—but without going outside the scope of her ability.
- Religion and Belief Systems As Part of the World’s History
We know from our own world’s history that many “kingdoms” have been formed, lost, regained, and destroyed in the name of religion. Therefore, creating some sort of religious belief system is almost always an integral component in understanding the fantasy world in which we want our readers to “live.”
Religion is a tricky thing to bend to your writing will, even without renaming its heroes and refashioning its path to redemption. The religious system of the Kingdom of E’veria is based upon the tenants of Christianity, but with significant differences in the historical applications of that belief system and . . . I did not approach that aspect of the world lightly. There is always a certain amount of fear that a segment of readership in the “real world” will be offended when we, as authors, mess around with religions, and for authors working within a view of their own faith system, there is the added pressure that how you allegorize it could be a misrepresentation, possibly damaging a reader’s faith. “Inventing” a religion, even in an allegorical way, requires extreme delicacy.
Sure, this fantasy world is my creation, but if they clothe themselves in medieval fashion, travel in medieval ways, and operate (for the most part) under medieval societal mores, chances are, they aren’t going to have flush toilets. Yes, the little things matter and, although “magic” elements allow us to play a bit, we certainly do not want to annoy the physicists, engineers, and geniuses who happen upon our novels.
As with many fantasy novels, the Eyes of E’veria series occasionally references an ancient, entirely-made-up-by-the-author language. Personally, I am not a fan the common practice of including an exhausting glossary of terms at the beginning (or end) of a book. Yes, I have one for my own reference, but I prefer to use as few “foreign/ancient” phrases as possible—although I may use them many times throughout the text—and to insert them, usually, in the context of dialogue. When I do place those terms within narrative, it is with the hope that readers not only remember coming across the word or phrase before, but they instinctively know what it means due to context clues. Honestly, in the age of e-books, flipping back to look something up in a glossary is a pain in the neck. I prefer to help my readers continue moving steadily onward with their disbelief suspended—to immerse them so fully into the story that they just “know” to what or whom I am referring because it just makes sense.
There are many possible pitfalls to navigate around when creating a fictional fantasy world, but there are also reasons for celebration—the most awesome, of course, being that you are the only resident expert concerning that particular world! It gives freedom to imagination and allows authors (and readers) to live beyond our own world’s limitations. When we grasp on to the hopeful excitement imagination provides, it gives us the impetus to discover paths around or through the snags and snares as we help our characters toward a beautifully believable ending.
DESTINED by prophecy. GUARDED by deception. PURSUED by Love.
Centuries ago, an oracle foretold of the young woman who would defeat E’veria’s most ancient enemy, the Cobelds. But after two centuries of relative peace, both the prophecy and the Cobelds have been relegated to lore—and only a few remain watchful for the promised Ryn.
Finally, a child is born who matches the oracle’s description, but a Cobeld curse accompanies her birth. Led to believe they succeeded in killing the prophesied child, the Cobelds emerge from hiding with plans to overtake the Kingdom.
But the child survived.
Secreted away and called “Rose” for the first nineteen years of her life, Rynnaia E’veri has no idea of her true identity until a chance meeting with an injured knight reveals not only her parentage and true name, but the task assigned her by the oracle: discover the Remedy that will destroy the Cobelds’ power.
Now, her time has come.
Offered the assistance of pirates, scribes, storytellers, a young woman who died centuries ago, and the knight who is quickly working his way into her heart, Rynnaia is fortified with friends. But if the Ryn is to complete her task, she must come to terms with not only who she is, but for whom she must be willing to die. For the kingdom’s survival depends on her.
Having come to terms with her long-hidden identity, Princess Rynnaia E’veri is ready to take her rightful place. But before she can join her father at Castle Rynwyk, she must endeavor to fulfill a 200-year-old prophecy and defeat the Kingdom’s ancient enemy, the Cobelds. Joined by her faithful knight, Sir Julien de Gladiel, and a gifted group of friends, Rynnaia must trek a dangerous path through canyons, forests, and into the very depths of a mountain where, if the prophetic scrolls prove correct, she will face an unknown foe, alone. Treacheries will be discovered, sacrifices will be made, friends will be lost, and love will be tested, but if even one line of the riddled prophecy is misinterpreted, Rynnaia will fail . . . and the Kingdom will fall.
Beginning at the point THE RYN ended, THE REMEDY concludes an epic re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, SNOW WHITE & ROSE RED. But the Eyes of E’veria series is only beginning . ..