I am fortunate, as a starting author, to have such great support from everyone I have shared this story with. Since the book has officially been available for over a month, there has been a trickling in of reviews, comments and questions – I love it, keep them coming! And of course, thank you.
Artwork by Nikki Grimm.
While many questions are probing for more worldly information on Radiant Heroes and when Episode 2 will be released, others are about the process of being an author. Questions particularly about creating worlds, races, magic and languages that coexist and those are the questions I want to dive into.
Before receiving any feedback, I was sure a reader could see which parts were inspired by greats like Tolkien, Rowling, Martin, etc. I was sure you could see glimpses of dungeons and dragons and maybe even some influences from anime or scenes that play out like a movie. There might even be some with such foresight that they could predict the subtle foreshadowing of a character’s mistake and maybe even know what parts were deleted and re-written over again to setup an evolved plot. However, I heard something different.
I heard that it became a world of it’s own and I couldn’t have hoped for more. As a reader, I was always looking to be immersed in an experience. I want to follow the characters on their adventure – sure, but that’s not all that’s going on this fantasy world, is it? What kind of magic exists and what can it do? What do these creatures eat and how do they live when they are off the pages? Not everyone believes in the same gods, worships the same dragon or has the same traditions and holidays – do they? Of course not. So why not take advantage of the beautiful chaos that is present in any world and make it real?
When creating a world I think of it like an old video game I used to play. You could zoom out so far that you had a world view that you could spin it to see the other side of the world. Look at these fantasy worlds and ‘zoom out’. Spin it slowly and what do you see? There’s a map, ocean currents, mountains and dark spots where light has never touched. How do they work into the story? For me, even if they aren’t relevant right now, they may be important later.
Now that I have a geography in mind for this world I think of fantastical creatures that live within it. Of course you have your regular monsters; vampires, werewolves, dragons, orc, minotaur, elves, dwarves, ghouls, goblins, chickens – they can be formidable creatures too! Every play Ocarina of Time? There are many creatures that have their own myths and legends that have had very little ‘screen-time’ in the fantasy world. Take a Djinn, more commonly known as a genie. Their myth is not based on granting wishes like in Aladdin, but rather creatures that tend to have more of a trickster nature. A story about slaying a dragon is entertaining, but what of a story where heroes encounter a Djinn – curious?
What else can be there? Maybe we can make this world have roses, tulips and daisies. Or, if we’re feeling very creative, we can make our own flowers and scents to fill the air and cover the landscape.
Once we have started to fill the world with creatures, both monstrous and sentient, take yourself through a day in this world. Where is it safe enough to live – if anywhere? Other than conflicts with nature and beasts, is there rivaling kingdoms or clans? There are infinite possibilities to generate plot and conflict, but keeping to a steady pace will make me (as a reader) care about the story and the characters. I think we all expect to have an annoying character somewhere, but if they are all insufferable – no one will want to spend time with them. Make some of your characters someone who anyone would want to spend time with.
It was most simple for me, while writing Radiant Heroes, to draw a map and give names to all my cities, rivers and empires. From there I had a visual, a terrain, and once there was a glimmer of heroes – there was motive and drive behind them. If a character is ever to be loved or hated, they must first be. If your characters are from all over the world, what brought them here and why are they together?
I hope the ranting about the struggles of a fantasy author will both inspire and intrigue you, my favorite reader. After all, this is for you and I am grateful you are checking in.
Want to know more about the wild creatures and beasts in Radiant Heroes? The first two chapters are available right here on mcgrimm.blog and will introduce you to something known as Vetala. If you want even more you can pick up your copy on amazon, at barnes and noble, and by checking here often for exclusive behind the book content.