Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PR Special Edition (40): Amalie Howard Guest Post!

Poisoned Rationality Special  Edition

Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition!   Today we have Amalie  Howard, author of Bloodspell discussing with us her writing!

The spell was simple …

Cruentus Protectum. Defend the Blood.

But what do you do if your blood is your enemy?

Victoria Warrick has always known she was different. An outcast at school, she is no stranger to adversity. But when she receives an old journal for her seventeenth birthday, nothing prepares her for the dark secrets it holds—much less one that reveals she’s a witch with unimaginable power.

What’s more, when she meets the dazzling but enigmatic Christian Devereux, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. Enemies will hunt her. Friends will turn on her. The terrible curse that makes her blood run black will stop at nothing to control her. And Christian has a sinister secret of his own …

Without knowing whom to trust, can Victoria survive her blood’s deadly desires? Or will she lose everything, including herself?


Creating the Confines of the World You Write In

Honestly, the stuff that goes on in my head on any given day is mind-boggling. I have an extremely active imagination, and my brain will go off on tangents even if I’m thinking about the most mundane thing. I invent whole alternate realities even if I’m doing something as simple as eating a sandwich. But of course, these scenarios make complete sense to me … but try explaining them to someone else! I’ve had this problem with every idea for a novel I’ve come up with – the minute I try to articulate my idea, it becomes so complicated and complex that it just ends up confusing everybody, me included.

This is why world-building is so critical. Think of world-building as the foundation of the story – you lay the groundwork and everything else rests on top of that. But it’s not like building a house, where you lay the foundation and then the exterior walls. In some cases, world-building starts inside the house in a room, and then branches out from there through other doors and other rooms. The latter is more in line with my approach.

The saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is very applicable to the world of Bloodspell. It’s not something that just happens, it’s more of an evolution. When I started writing Bloodspell, it was really character-driven, in that it was about Victoria – this girl who has this incredible magical power that can either destroy her or make her stronger. The real world-building then begins once I have that main character down because she is so central to the entire story. Who is she? What motivates her? What are her dreams or her fears? Who are her friends? Does she have a boyfriend? What is she most afraid of? How or why will she overcome it?

Think of Victoria as a dot, and then all of these successive elements as circles surrounding the dot. That’s how my world—and eventually my novel—gets built. Eventually, you have to tweak the circles so that they make sense in relation to the characters, the environment, and how they interact within that environment with each other. It all has to make some kind of cohesive sense. Of course, keep in mind that I am talking at a very high level. World-building can become extremely granular, especially when you’re working on the details of where a character lives, or where the Vampire Council headquarters are, or what’s the backstory behind the main character’s curse. Some of your circles then have to interlock with other circles, and connect to bring everything together.

I read somewhere once that when you’re creating a new world or a world that’s parallel to ours (as is the case with Urban Fantasy), it has to have structure and rules. These rules have to be believable to the reader, or otherwise everything will come crashing down. That makes a lot of sense to me because if I don’t believe something within the world of a novel that I’m reading, immediately, I start to doubt its plausibility, and then it’s like a house of cards and a big rush of wind. An example with Bloodspell is Leto, the talking cat. For some, a talking animal may introduce some skepticism, but to counter this, I made sure that I approached it from the point of view that “familiars” are very much a part of the witch/wizarding world, for example in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Therein lies immediate credibility. It makes sense in the world I have built when tied in to the worlds that other writers have created in other books or movies.

All that said, the most important thing in maintaining the confines of the world that the story is set in, is going to be the editing process. That’s why in my case, Bloodspell took 3 months to write, and over a year to edit! My first draft was six hundred pages, and the final novel is just about four hundred. The editing process is critical in really shaping the world that you have created – tying up loose ends, making things sharper and sleeker, and removing superfluous material that doesn’t contribute to the core story. My agent called that “trimming the fat.” This is obviously the hardest part of writing a book because it’s like getting rid of parts of yourself, and parts of the world that you created. But as hard as that is, your end-product will always be
better for it.

Hopefully the world of Bloodspell will be an interesting and compelling place that many readers will want to lose themselves in, at least for a few hours!


Want to know more?  Check out Amalie's website to learn more about the Bloodspell series!  And make sure to follow along on her tour with Teen Book Scene! 

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