Perhaps the best thing about writing spec fic (fantasy and science fiction are just two flavors of speculative fiction) is the freedom to create a new world that follows your own rules. From completely second world high fantasy, to something closer, like a near future sci-fi that is firmly grounded in this world but has just a tweek or two, authors spin worlds as much as they spin plot and character. World building is no lesser a pillar of a good story as a strong character.
I asked Gail to give me some thoughts on World Building in her Deadly Curiosities world.
Book Title: Inheritance
Author: Gail Z. Martin
Building a World to Share
By Gail Z. Martin
One of the many things I love about writing urban fantasy is that the stories happen in our own, recognizable world—but with the addition of magic and supernatural elements. On one hand, setting the stories in the real world means readers can picture landmarks and may be somewhat familiar with a region or city’s history. When you add magic and the supernatural, however, that well-known landscape becomes different, strange—even spooky.
I write three different urban fantasy series under my Gail Z. Martin name—Deadly Curiosities, Night Vigil, and Spells Salt and Steel (co-written with Larry N. Martin). And I write three more urban fantasy MM paranormal romance series under my Morgan Brice name—Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail. All happen in various real-life cities, with plenty of magic and creatures.
What makes it especially fun for me is that all six series cross over with each other, so the characters know each other and show up in each other’s books, and ask each other for help. One reader dubbed it the ‘MCU—Martin Cinematic Universe’ (apologies to Marvel). But as with the Marvel movies, there are little in-jokes and ‘Easter egg’ comments that show up in the books for those who have read across the series.
Although the stories are set in the real world, there’s still a lot of worldbuilding that goes into each series and book. I draw heavily from the local history, urban legends, ghost stories and culture of each of the cities where the books are set—Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Pittsburgh, Cape May, as well as Northwestern Pennsylvania. And in the Witchbane series, each book takes place in a different city. So part of my preparation for writing a book is delving into that lore so I can make the location a character and assure that the story wouldn’t happen the same way anywhere else.
I joked that I couldn’t keep six different universes straight, so they had to cross over, but that’s only partially true. It’s a lot more fun for me (and from what I hear from readers, for them also) to run across old friends, hear from characters they follow in other series, and most importantly, see the characters as having a network of friends and allies they can rely on when things get rough.
I’ll be adding a crossover Morgan Brice series that connects with our Iron & Blood steampunk world, as well as two Morgan Brice connected series that extend my Assassins of Landria medieval adventure series. Stay tuned—there’s more crossover fun to come!
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About the Author
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, SOL Publishing, Darkwind Press, Worldbuilders Press and Falstaff Books. Recent books include Convicts and Exiles, Sellsword’s Oath, Inheritance, and Night Moves. With Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of the Spells Salt & Steel, Wasteland Marshals, Joe Mack and Jake Desmet series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance including the Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail series. Recent books include The Rising, Flame and Ash.
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