Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post: World Building 101 | The Violet Fox by Clare C. Marshall

The Violet Fox (The Violet Fox #1)

Clare C. Marshall

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Publication Date: October 13th 2012

Publisher: Faery Ink Press

Genre:  Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 288
That’s what instinct told me.
But in order to save the secrets of my people
and to protect my brother
I have to become the enemy.

There are two kinds of people in the land of Marlenia.

The Marlenians, who live on the surface,

and the Freetors, who are forced to live underground.

The war between them ended two hundred years ago, but the Freetors still fight for the right to live under the sun. Fifteen-year-old Kiera Driscoll embodies the Freetors’ hopes as the Violet Fox. In a violet cape and mask, she sneaks around Marlenia City stealing food and freeing her people from slavery.

Then the Elders task her with a secret mission: retrieve a stolen tome that contains the secrets of Freetor magic, something the Marlenians both fear and covet. Kiera must disguise herself as a noblewoman and infiltrate the Marlenian castle before the Freetor-hating Advisor finds out her real identity, before her brother is imprisoned because of the secrets he hides, and before she falls any more in love with the prince she’s supposed to hate.

More is happening in the castle than she realizes, and Kiera is faced with a difficult choice. Will she be loyal to her people and their fight for freedom, or will she be loyal to her heart?
When I read The Violet Fox, it's not surprising that I found myself entranced by the world Marshall had created. World building is something that I find vital for books that delve into something more than just contemporary and especially so in Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. Here is Marshall's advice when it comes to trying to create a world of your own.

World Building 101

Not only am I an author/publisher, but I’m a professional editor as well. And one of the things I notice when I’m editing (especially a new author) is the lack of world development.

But what does this mean?

Where you grow up influences how you turn out. I grew up in a rural town in Nova Scotia. When I’d visit the streets of Halifax in my teen years, I would freak out at huge buses whizzing by. Why? Because we didn’t have buses where I lived. It’s not that I didn’t know about buses--it’s because I wasn’t used to being inches from them rushing by me. It just wasn’t in my sphere of experience, so I’d react badly. Now I’m used to it, but only because I’ve lived in many other large cities since.

In The Violet Fox, the people who live on the surface of Marlenia have a lot of prejudice and hatred against the people who live underground, because there was a big war 200 years ago. Even though it was so long ago, this prejudice and hatred is passed down through the generations. This means that my protagonist, Kiera, who lives underground and steals from people who live on the surface, was basically taught that people who live on the surface are unfeeling, hateful bastards who would kill her people without a second thought. Throughout the book, however, her perception changes, because she has more experiences that change her perception.

So, how can I improve world building for my own books?

Here are some questions I ask myself when I’m developing worlds, and specifically, the world of Marlenia, where The Violet Fox and its upcoming sequel, The Silver Spear, take place.

1) Starting wide: what is the history of your world?

This seems like a daunting task, but just start with one fact. Just one.

Mine was: even in the earliest drafts of the book, the ruler of Marlenia is called the Holy One.

Why might that be, I wondered? It was originally just a cool title that popped into my head! I had to come up with a reason that made sense within the world, because there’s not a lot of religion in the world currently. So I came up with this: Marlenia is a lapsed theocracy. That means the society used to be heavily religious, but over the generations, religion became less important, but remnants of that earlier time remain, because the tradition is hard-wired.

Try it! Pick one obscure fact about a character and ask: why?

2) Starting specific: what is the backstory for my main character?

Sometimes you might just have characters, and no place. So look to your character’s childhood. How did he or she grow up? Was there an early childhood tragedy that influenced his or her development? Is there a specific pass time they enjoy?
Now take it wider. If he or she had a terrible childhood, why would that be? Did they grow up on the streets? Which streets, where? Why are they so terrible? If they grew up in a stable household, what did his or her parents do? Are their professions considered respectable in your world? Did they make a lot of money? Economic standing in society plays a big role in what we have access to, and our decisions in life.
Then, take it wider. Compare your character’s experiences with other potential characters in the world. Is your character’s experience typical or atypical in the world? Connect the dots. The idea is to keep asking questions until you have every detail sussed out.

3) Going deeper

This is getting beyond a 101, but if you’re developing fantasy, you need to ask yourself why specific cities develop in the way they do. Study the history of your own country and notice when and how towns develop. Here in Canada, the east was developed first, and then people migrated further west, and inland. The east was settled by Europeans first because that’s the patch of land that was closest to them. Some of the oldest cities in Canada are next to the water, be it rivers or the ocean. Why? Fishing was (still is) a big industry, and cities by the water can trade by boat with other cities accessible by water (mutually beneficial). This is overly simplistic description, but it should get you thinking about your fictional city’s infrastructure, and what kind of jobs your character or your character’s family might have.

Keep going backwards in time, keep going deeper. And remember: the actions of just one person can change the course of history--and change how your world develops.

Happy world building, and don’t forget to check out my book The Violet Fox, and the crowdfunding campaign for the upcoming sequel, The Silver Spear, at

About the Author 
Clare C. Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She is a full-time freelance editor, book designer, and web manager. She enjoys publishing books through her publishing imprint, Faery Ink Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.

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