A conversation on world building from Alexandria Warwick:
author of the debut YA fantasy novel – The Demon Race
Genre: YA fantasy
Publishing Date: September 18, 2018
Goodreads synopsis of The Demon Race:
Hidalgo meets An Ember in the Ashes in this Middle Eastern-inspired YA fantasy debut.
A race across the desert.
An unimaginable prize.
It occurs once every thousand years: the Demon Race. A test of will and strength, it is a race across the Saraj, a fight for the prize of a lifetime. And it is the key to Namali Hafshar’s freedom.
When shy, seventeen-year-old Namali learns of her arranged marriage, she flees home and enters the Demon Race for the chance to change her fate. But to compete, she must cross the Saraj on a daeva, a shadow demon that desires its own reward: to infect her soul with darkness.
Namali soon learns the desert holds more dangers than meets the eye. The only person she can trust is Sameen, a kind competitor seeking his own destiny. As her affection for him grows, however, so too does the darkness in her heart.
In this race of men and demons, only one can win. But the price of winning might be more than Namali is willing to pay.
Worldbuilding 101: Mythology, Religion, and Culture
I am so excited to have the opportunity to discuss what is probably my favorite part of writing today: worldbuilding! I have been drawn to fantasy for as long as I can remember. Not only is it the genre that allows my imagination to run free, but you can basically write whatever you want, which is awesome. I believe there is no right way to build a world, as people place emphasis on various aspects. What I’d like to discuss are the parts of worldbuilding I emphasize in my stories, the parts most important to me. Namely: mythology, religion, and culture.
My worlds are based on real people, real cultures, real places. This gives me structure. A backbone, so to speak. Since I write what I like to read, I enjoy writing about worlds that are familiar enough to where I feel grounded, with uniqueness and fantastical elements that make them their own. When creating the world of Malahad, I did a lot of research on the Bedouin tribes in the Middle East, Zoroastrianism, and the mythology of Ancient Persia. I asked myself, What is important to this culture? What values do the people hold? Family? Loyalty? Respect? I think it’s important to identify these core elements when exploring what cultures you want to include in your story, as very often society will be built around such values, and these values will shape your characters in different ways. I then draw parallels and ask myself, What is important to my world? Things might differ based on the rules and systems I put into place. If something doesn’t work, I take it out. Or, if something needs to be changed, I do that too!
Honestly, mythology is actually what draws me to worldbuilding the most. Unsurprisingly, my stories have strong mythological overtones. I’m very interested in how mythology shapes a culture, and when brainstorming, questions centered around mythology often give rise to the plot, as I like the two to have somewhat of a mutualistic relationship. The ways people develop mythology to explain how phenomena occur is very fascinating to me, and I like to turn those beliefs on their heads. Generally, this is where the fantastical comes into play. In The Demon Race, I knew right away it would be centered around a race across the desert. This myth, as well as the mystery of its origins, was the driving force of the story.
Lastly, religion. I try not to go too in-depth with religion, but I do like to have a bigger picture. Zoroastrianism, for example, strongly influenced The Demon Race, as it ties in with the good vs. evil theme (I mean, what fantasy doesn’t have this theme? Pretty sure it’s a requirement). Going off on a little bit of a tangent here, but my favorite series EVERRR is The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. I first read this series when I was 12. Her writing had a huge impact on me, especially when it came to how I approach religion in novels. The deities very much have a hand in the lives of mortals in the Tortall universe, and this is also how religion plays out in The Demon Race. I like writing about the overlapping worlds of gods and men. Meddling, if you will!! At the very least, it creates problems for the characters. Which is to say, it keeps things interesting!
~ Alexandria Warwick
Go preorder Alexandria’s debut novel, which is scheduled to come out this September!! It will be a story that lovers of fantasy won’t want to miss!!
Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Demon Race is her first novel.
Amazon Pre-order Link:
Enter a giveaway for a copy of The Demon Race: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Alexandria’s Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/alexandriawarwick/
Alexandria’s Website: http://www.alexandriawarwick.com/