Hello and welcome to a different kind of post today, which is a chat with an author I have come to admire a lot over the time I’ve interacted with her. This is the first Q&A kind of post on this blog and I feel fortunate to have her on here. This post is part of the blog tour for the book A-Zs of Worldbuilding (all links are provided at the end), which I got to read a very early copy of and critique. I’m very excited about the final copy and its release, so without further ado, let’s get into the fun part!
Worldbuilding can be a tough subject for authors to handle, and especially daunting for authors of speculative fiction. It can enhance the storytelling or fall flat for readers. To help navigate this tricky road, author Rebekah Loper has explained the process in her comprehensive guide that focuses exclusively on this topic, the A-Zs of Wordbuilding. It started as a series of blog posts and snowballed into a full-fledged book. Here I present to you its creator, Rebekah.
N: Hi, Rebekah, and welcome to Unputdownable Books. Could you introduce yourself for the readers?
R: Hi everyone! I’m Rebekah. I’m practically an Oklahoma-native (I’ve lived here since I was one year old) and I’m a farm girl at heart that is stuck in the city (at least for now). I have a dog, cat, several chickens, and a husband (our 10 year anniversary is in January). I like to garden, read, and write. I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember.
N: Since this book is all about worldbuilding, I’m curious to know, how did it pique your interest?
R: It started pretty early in my life. My sister and I loved to play make-believe, and we had one world we would always play in. It was really my sister’s creation, but that was definitely where my interest started.
When I moved on from just telling stories to keep myself and my siblings entertained and started writing with the intention of writing books (eventually), I gravitated towards fantasy. Reading The Lord of the Rings (and all of Tolkien’s works, really) had gotten me through some pretty rough patches in my teen years – things like multiple near-deaths of family members, not as much of the self-esteem/normal teenage-drama issues. As I learned more about how Tolkien created those stories, I became more and more fascinated with the concept of worldbuilding. One day, I sat down and Googled ‘world building’ and down the rabbit hole I fell!
N: Haha, it is quite a deep hole, to be sure! That’s a sweet story. That got me wondering if you think that world-building is restricted to SF&F authors or do authors writing outside of those genres need to pay attention to it as well?
R: I’d say that worldbuilding applies to every writer, just to varying degrees. Worldbuilding is, at its very foundation, creating the world and setting for a specific story. Even someone writing contemporary fiction has to know the setting for their story, particularly if they’re writing about a location or culture that they don’t have personal experience with. Ultimately, the expectations that readers have based on what the author has ‘promised’ through their character and story set-up, as well as the actual physical setting is what creates the world for the story. Worldbuilding is what helps a writer establish that setting and keep it consistent within the story.
The amount of worldbuilding depends on whether the setting is in our world or a fictional one, or if it’s a historical, modern, or futuristic story. The stories in completely fictional worlds and/or futuristic settings are always going to require the most worldbuilding simply because they don’t take place in our reality.
N: I agree with you on the variation in the amount of detail for different authors. That brings me to my next question. How do you know when to stop world-building and start writing?
R: This ultimately depends on the scope of the story, and on the writer’s own quirks, I think. But for me, I usually need to set the worldbuilding aside when I’m finding reasons to work endlessly on only worldbuilding, when I’ve lost sight of the story and gotten lost in just the world.
N: I’ll make sure to remember that when I’m working on my novel. Can you tell us what does your future writing plan look like?
R: I have a fantasy novella I’m revising right now, in the hopes of entering it in the Writers of the Future contest before the end of the year. I’m also working on revising a fantasy novel I drafted in 2012 that’s gotten positive feedback in contests and from some agents and editors, but it needs some work. National Novel Writing Month is also coming up in November, and I need to start figuring out my project for that this year. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I need to flesh it out – both plotting it, and worldbuilding it!
And, tentatively speaking, I’m probably going to start working on a second book for The A-Zs of Worldbuilding. I’m still trying to decide between focusing on magic systems or religion, since those are two topics I didn’t really get to go as in-depth on as I would like in this book. I’ll probably be aiming for late 2018/early 2019 for publishing that.
N: All of that sounds very exciting, especially the second book on worldbuilding. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Rebekah. It was a fun and informative conversation and I’d love to have you back here again.
For those of you who are curious about the book, below are all the details you will ever need.
About the book:
Worldbuilding is the ultimate act of creation for speculative fiction writers, but how exactly do you worldbuild? You ask ‘what if’ and use each answer as a springboard to more questions and answers about your fictional world.
In The A-Zs of Worldbuilding, that ‘what if’ process is broken down into 26 themed chapters, covering topics ranging from architecture to zoology. Each chapter includes a corresponding set of guided exercises to help you find the ‘what if’ questions relevant to your story’s world.
Fair warning, though: worldbuilding is addictive. Once you get started, you might never put your pen down again.
Where to Buy It:
About the Author:
Rebekah Loper loves to create worlds – whether they are magical and fictional, or a productive farm in her suburban backyard where she makes futile attempts to curse Bermuda grass from all existence. She blogs at rebekahloper.com, and is also a contributing blogger at Fantasy-Faction.com and The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society (fictionalferrets.wordpress.com).
Where to Connect:
Get the ebook of The A-Zs of Worldbuilding for only 99 cents (USD) now through September 30! (Regularly $3.99)
Sign up for Rebekah’s newsletter by September 30 and get a 25% off coupon for The A-Zs of Worldbuilding paperback when you purchase it from RebekahLoper.com!