Fantasy World-Building: Guest Post by S.Kaeth

52161281. sx318

I’m delighted that I’ll be having S.Kaeth for a guest port for my blog! I’m reading her new book Between Starfalls and absolutely loving it so far. The world building is rich with cultural nuances and traditions that make it feel so real. You can find the book on Amazon and Hakea Media.

This guest post is part of the #HiveReadsOnTour. If you still haven’t checked my first impressions post, click here.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!


World-building

I love world-building. I love reading it, and I love doing it. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to world-building, as well! Because there are so many great resources out there on how to do world-building, I’m going to focus more on how I did mine. Remember, use the method that works for you–but don’t forget to also write the story!

I started off with just mashing various cultures from history together and grabbing this from this one and that from that one. The issue I realized that made me change my system was that my story could cause harm to real people with that style of world-building. So I went back and I read a ton to find a better way for my story. This of course, resulted in significant changes to said story, but that’s ok with me. I’m not an efficient writer at the best of times, so I’m used to re-writing and re-working things a ton. 

One of my greatest childhood inspirations in reading was Ursula K LeGuin, and it shows I think, in my writing. I figured the chances of my heroes being brown skinned due to their environment and lifestyle was high, and why should heroes tend to be white anyway? I went with a Stone Age society because I felt it was an under-used technological era, and I wanted to do something different. Not having metal shouldn’t make my heroes any less heroic. 

I came across an old presentation by NK Jemisin on her “iceberg method of world-building” and I loved it. Basically, it went along the lines of: instead of mashing up real cultures, why not use environmental factors and social decisions and build your world from scratch? I’d already started, so I continued on with what I had. 

My world had Stone Age technology, so farming would be difficult. Hunting and gathering with supplemental agriculture made more sense. But if I had hunters and gatherers, that meant the area would run out of resources after a time. So that both limited the number of people in each community as well as driving me to make them semi-nomadic. I figured if they aren’t staying in one spot for a long time, and if they’re making this sacred journey twice a year, they probably won’t have a lot of personal possessions. I went with community possessions instead, and mostly just the necessities. 

So I went, with each choice interacting with other choices and cascading down possible results in social order, community relationships, etc. I wanted a somewhat egalitarian society, so I balanced the male Storytellers with female Great Mothers, and then balanced both of them with the priests and priestesses. But since I wanted the religion of my people to be very individualistic and mystic, I figured the priests and priestesses would be more like therapists and counselors in modern day, which created an interesting (I think) system of government, run by someone who keeps track of the history along with someone who focuses on healthy inter-community relationships, along with the community members who specialize in mental health. 

Another thing that was both a headache and added to this is that I wanted to really embrace having a second world fantasy (a fantasy clearly not set on an Earth), with its own non-Earth creatures (for the most part). This led to new idioms, new parallels being drawn by the characters, and also a steep learning curve (which I wanted anyway, as I like books that throw the reader in the deep end of world-building). Obviously this won’t work for everyone, but I spent a lot of time trying to make things sensical without using Earth equivalents and without straight up saying “alright, guys, so tailosaen are monkeys, and Rinaryn language pluralizes with “n” and not “s”, by the way.” It was very much an aim-for-your-target-audience and do your best sort of thing!

By layering in these various societal traits with environmental factors, I was able to create a deep world, especially as I filtered in in the writing through each character’s voice and how they feel about their society. Taunos’s irreverence, Kaemada’s fear of being on the outside, Ra’ael’s firm belief in being absolutely right, and Takiyah’s eagerness for adventure, all these come from their personalities interacting with their society. Even the flaws in the system, where things don’t work as intended, all came from the bits and pieces interacting with each other. 

One more thing to watch out for in world-building is that just because you love a part of the system doesn’t mean you get to show it. Only the pieces that add to the plot of the story should come through. But by having the world-building stack on itself like this, it leads to a world that feels deep and comprehensive even though you only get to show a little bit of it. 

For more information on NK Jemisin’s technique, see: http://nkjemisin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/WDWebinar.pdf


About the Author

S.Kaeth is an author of sci-fi/fantasy stories, as well as a dreamer, reader, writer, character interviewer, and worldbuilder. Writing is an integral part of who she is. Creative expression in some way helps her to get through the dark times and celebrate the bright times, making sense of the world and dealing with life in general. S has always been, and always will be, a storyteller. She can be found on Twitter and Blog.


Thank you for the guest post SK!

FTK 🙂

Between Starfalls: Blog Tour

Last but not the least, welcome to my stop for the #HiveReadsOnTour for S.Kaeth‘s Between Starfalls.

This amazing tour was organized by none other than the brilliant Kriti (seriously go check her blog) and do check out the other blog stops on WriteHive!


Blurb

Never leave the path. It’s sacred law, punishable by exile.

When her son goes missing in the perilous mountains, Kaemada defies the law to search for him. She enlists the help of her hero brother, a priestess berserker, and a fire-wielding friend. But the law exists for a reason. When the search party is captured by the mythical Kamalti, they learn that Kaemada’s son was sent to an ancient prison city.

As they battle for freedom, they discover a horrible truth that will change the future of both races forever. With their world in upheaval, Kaemada must find a way to peace if she’s to save her son—but tensions between the two races are leading to war.


First Impressions

The book instantly dives into the world in which Kaemada lives in. The culture and traditions are very well defined and you become instantly immersed in them. Even the characters names and places are well thought and give nuances to the the world shown.

SK’s voice is clear and writing flows smoothly. My favorite parts are the ‘journal excerpts’ at the beginning of each chapter, it gives insight in the world setting without giving too much at once.

Kaemada is a complex character who is a single mom, Her struggles and motivations are refreshing to have in a main character of a fantasy story.

I’m 15% into reading Between Starfalls and will post full review once I’m done, but loving it so far!

You can find the book on Amazon and Hakea Media.


About the Author

S.Kaeth is an author of sci-fi/fantasy stories, as well as a dreamer, reader, writer, character interviewer, and world-builder.

She was raised in the gorgeous Driftless area of the Midwest United States on a steady diet of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, mythology, legends of King Arthur, superheroes, and Doctor Who. As a child, she told stories constantly to family and friends, and she wrote some of the worst fan fiction and short stories that no one will ever get to see. As S got older, she was inspired a great deal by Andre Norton’s Janus novels, the Foundation series, the Ender’s Game series, Wheel of Time, Ursula K LeGuin, and Ringworld.

She’s an avid reader, and has been serious about honing her craft for about ten years, now. She finds writing necessary; it’s an integral part of who she is. Creative expression in some way helps her to get through the dark times and celebrate the bright times, making sense of the world and dealing with life in general. SK has always been, and always will be, a storyteller.

She can be found on Twitter and Blog


Guest Post & Mood Board

I got opportunity to have SK on a guest post and I’m super excited! She talks about world-building! The post goes live tomorrow so stay tuned! (EDIT: guest post is here!)

Meanwhile, here’s a mood board I made for Between Starfalls:


FTK 🙂

We Hunt the Flame: Review

41139487. sy475

I was finally, finally able to read this! I’ve been hyped for this book even before the book was announced.

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

I was sold on those two sentences alone. It has an assassin and a hunter. It’s Ancient-Arabia inspired political intrigue with Magic! I didn’t need to read more to know I’ll be reading the book as soon as I could.

The plot is interesting and unique. The story is told in Dual-POV of Zafira-The Hunteress and Nasir-The Prince of Death. The book is divided in three parts and the writing is lovely, it flows smoothly and vividly.

The characters are well written with their own fears and goals. I connected with each character and their interactions with each other felt genuine.

There is a lot of Arabic used in the book. This was a first, since other magical YA Fantasy books make up entirely new magical languages for the world portrayed in those books, I think the use of Arabic added an extra element to WHTF.

However, I felt the flow being broken every time something in Arabic was being said in the narration, even though I know Arabic. The Arabic spoken within the dialogue seemed more natural for the characters to say, but the narration was throwing me off. For those who don’t know the language could either feel more disconnected with the book or just take it as a ‘language set in the world of Arawiya’ but there is no glossary in the book, there is one on Hafsah’s site.

Hafsah is a master at foreshadowing and incorporating plot-twists. Some plot-twists were seen coming, while many others (some even felt forced plot-twists) took me off guard and I yelled into the void while reading.

Over all 4.5 out of 5 stars. Eagerly waiting for book 2.

Click here to download WHTF bookmark, designed by yours truly 🙂

When Wishes Bleed: Review

48654306. sy475

When Wishes Bleed was such a surprise to read. It had a great start and the plot progressed naturally without any drags.

It follows Sable, the Daughter of Fate, and is written in her first person. She is an interesting character but what I enjoyed most was the unique take on Fate. It was a character which drove the story without even ‘existing’.

Tauren, the crown prince, was a typical YA prince but wasn’t a bore to read either. The supporting characters, Arron, Brecan, Mira, etc. were all well developed.

The magic system “natural affinities” was easy to understand and the world building and descriptions were written vividly. The ending was satisfying and super cute.

Recommended for YA-witchy-romance fans. Overall 5 out of 5 stars.

An Enchantment of Ravens: Review

34997533. sy475

This was quite hyped when it first came out. I saw this on Kindle Unlimited and instantly picked it up.

The plot is simple and engaging but the writing is a bit – awkward, it kept disconnecting with me. The plot points are clearly there for the sole reason of giving an ‘example’ of the situation being explained.

For example, during the Barrow Lord fight scene, it depicts the sickness that has taken over the fairy courts. – and that was the only scene where ‘sickness’ is shown to exist. While the descriptions were vivid it didn’t clarify if was due to the ‘sickness’ in the fairy courts or that’s the way it’s always been like.

The characters were likable, but they also were not that well-developed. The ending was predictable yet satisfying.

Recommended for fans of The Cruel Prince and Uprooted.

Overall, 3.5 over 5 stars.