The World Weavers By KELLEY GRANT
A Whole New World
I don’t live entirely in this world. My entire reading life has been spent exiting this world for new, more exciting ones. My whole childhood I had one foot in a different world a writer created, but one ear listening for Mom’s voice telling me to clean my room. I have been to so many fascinating places: to crazy worlds where dogs go and have a tree party, to magical places with dragons and princesses, to the segregated world of the 1930s with Jem and Scout.
There are many beloved literary characters in fiction but often what makes them so treasured is the world they grew out of. The places that molded and shaped their lives are essential to the characters. We think of world building as a fantasy novel device – creating a whole new world for dragons and monsters and heroes to live in. But world building is just as essential in mainstream novels, in romance and in memoirs. We read to escape into a new place, a new life, a new way of looking at the world. When the world the characters live in isn’t fully fleshed out, it shows. It feels incomplete and we can’t lose ourselves as readily in the story.
How do you create worlds that feel as real as your own? When you set your character’s world in a real life setting, you must research. Things to think about: how do people in that setting think about themselves and the society around them? Do they drive certain cars or eat certain foods? What were the prevalent religious ideas for that time or region? Even if the smaller details never make it into your story, knowing all the details of the time and place, the attitudes of the people living there, and the limitations and privileges will flavor the decisions your characters will make and set a realistic tone.
World building in fantasy is an even more extensive process. Before starting my Desert Rising series, I had mapped out the world’s religious system. I knew the history of the world. I knew the government and had mapped out the two territories. I knew the tragic backstory of my main character’s parents. I knew all her relatives, what the twins loved and hated and where and how they grew up. And when I began the story I began it in the middle of all the turmoil and trouble, with plenty of childhood struggles behind my main characters to guide their decisions.
“Write what you know” is commonly heard advice for writers. I believe that when a writer maps her world out until it feels like a place from her heart, then she truly knows where her characters come from – whether she’s ever lived there or not. Any character living in that fully realized world will come to life in the imagination and the heart of the reader. And then the reader will be transported to a whole new world, and become the character you have brought to life.
It has been a year since Sulis Hasifel fled to the desert, narrowly escaping death at the hands of a vengeful god. The time of the final battle, the final confrontation with the deities of her world, is nearing. Lured by the call of their long-trapped powers, the deities will descend upon the Obsidian Temple, where the Chosen await.
But the war between gods and humans has enveloped the entire land. Sulis’s twin, Kadar, joins forces with the nomadic warrior tribes of the desert. Little by little, the desert armies draw the deities away from their stronghold in the north, towards their doom.
In the face of a battle that will reshape mankind’s destiny and the earth itself, old friendships will be tested and new alliances forged. In this spellbinding denouement to Desert Rising and The Obsidian Temple, Kelley Grant brings her epic trilogy to a thunderous and powerful conclusion.
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I grew up in the hills around Sugarcreek Ohio. Living around the Amish community created a fascination for religions, both living and dead. I read everything I could about Greek and Roman gods, which influenced the deities in the Desert Rising series. Living out in the country surrounded me with critters and the cats in my childhood inspired the feli in Desert Rising.
Tell us your latest news!
The World Weavers will release in paperback on May 31st. I am working on a new series, set in the jungles of a new world.
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote for teacher’s assignments when I was a kid, and the teachers loved my stories and encouraged me to write more. My mentors in college encouraged me to keep writing. I love to write. I realized that I wanted to transport people to different worlds, the way authors I loved did for me. My first novel was a mainstream novel written through Nanowrimo. After I stuck that one in a drawer, I decided I wanted to write fantasy, which was my first love. The result of that was Desert Rising, the first novel of my trilogy.
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (and all her novels) influenced me as a kid. I’ve always loved John Steinbeck’s lyrical novels, which are windows into the souls of his characters. I love Anne Bishop’s darker worlds, and Mercedes Lackey’s brighter fantasy.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
Sulis started out as the villain of my novel. I wrote five chapters with an MC called Raine and realized I despised her and was fascinated by this troublemaking desert girl. So I let her speak and discovered her twin, Kadar, and her amazingly strong grandmother and family. Raine disappeared, hopefully never to be heard from again.
With more minor characters Alannah is the calm, strongly faithful person I would like to be. Lasha is pretty much me – often confused, but wanting to explore everything and do it her way rather than toe the line.
What motivates you to write?
I love getting lost in the worlds I am creating. My characters have so much to say and do and I often feel like I’m just following them around, jotting down notes about their lives.
What is the hardest part of writing?
In the beginning it was just getting myself to sit and write, but I’ve trained myself now and that is easier. I would say now it is the promotion of the novels. It is difficult to for me to push my own writing and do the self-promotion that is needed to sell the series.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The World Weavers is the last of the Desert Rising trilogy. I am mostly a pantser while writing, but with this novel I had to learn to plot in order to weave all the storylines together into a satisfying conclusion.
Where do you get your ideas?
I wish I knew (cue hysterical laughter). I think everything I read and everything I’ve ever experienced joins together and suddenly there is a world forming in my mind. And out of that world pops these irresistible characters that I have to get to know. So I start writing about them. I read widely, go to museums, explore everything – I think that helps to create the diverse worlds I love to write about.
What does your family think of your writing?
They seem a bit surprised, but proud, and have enjoyed my novels. My husband is thrilled and is a fantasy and sci-fi reader like I am. The five cats are bored and not happy when I type on the laptop all day and don’t allow them to settle on the warm keyboard.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Believe in yourself now. If you write, you are a writer. If you doubt that, you will stick your novel in a drawer for years (like I did) when it could be in the hands of readers. And getting published won’t cure your insecurities and may make them worse, so you need to face and conquer them now.
What book are you reading now?
I just finished Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, and The Red Queen and The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. I’m reading John Scalzi’s The Android’s Dream, and I’m rereading Julie Czerneda’s Clan Chronicles because This Gulf of Time and Stars just came out and I like to reread the series before continuing with the newest one. I’m also reading a fascinating history of the Mayan people called A Forest of Kings by Linda Schele and David Freidel.
Kelley Grant is the author of the Desert Rising trilogy, which includes Desert Rising, The Obsidian Temple and The World Weavers. She grew up in the hills of Ohio’s Amish country. Her best friends were the books she read, the stories she created and the forest and fields that inspired her. She and her husband live on a wooded hilltop and are owned by five cats, a dog and numerous uninvited critters. Besides writing, Kelley teaches yoga and meditation, sings kirtan with her husband, and designs brochures and media.
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