I recently reviewed Melokai, a harsh and intriguing story in an unusual world with animalistic humanoid races. Author Rosalyn Kelly was kind enough to agree to be interviewed!
What inspired your world building process?
I thoroughly enjoyed the world building process for my In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy and spin-off novellas (The Sand Scuttler, The Fall of Vaasar) and short stories (Peonhood, The Tunnel Runner, Ruby’s Return). The world is now so alive in my imagination that I have more standalone stories and a second trilogy set in the same world planned.
There are a few key things that inspire me when it comes to creating my own rich worlds. These are:
1) Travelling – I’ve actively ‘designed’ my life so that I could spend long periods travelling. I would work like crazy, save money and then go backpacking for months on end. I’d make my savings last as long as possible by being super frugal and staying in hostels, taking the cheapest transport option and making my own food rather than eating out etc. I have travelled all around the world, experiencing new places, cultures, people, food and landscapes. All these memories and first-hand experiences simmer in my brain and then pop into my mind when I’m imagining places, races or customs.
2) Reading – I’m an avid reader. Not just of fiction but of non-fiction, magazines, newspapers and blogs. I like to consume written content in all forms. In this way I’ve built up a bank of weird and wonderful information that I can draw on when creating new worlds. Sometimes it’s the smallest details that bring a story to life.
3) People-watching – people are so interesting! I can spend hours on end watching life happen around me, hearing snippets of conversation, seeing how people interact with others. Understanding that not one person is the same as another and that we each have such intricate personalities really helps when building realistic characters. It’s easy to fall into clichés and generalizations when writing people, especially fantasy protagonists and antagonists. But remembering that characters are shaped by the world you create for them is an important part of world building.
Who are you writing for and why?
I’m a devoted reader of fantasy fiction. I like the lighter stuff, but predominantly my tastes skew towards more grimdark fantasy. I enjoy fantasy with fair maidens, wizards with pointy hats and a dashing hero who saves the day, but too much can get a bit tedious. Give me a grey character, realistic setting, high stakes and unpredictable outcomes and I’m much happier. My absolute favorite is to be surprised and challenged when reading.
As I love reading this kind of fantasy, my writing tends to be on the darker and grittier side. The characters aren’t always likable or take the actions you’d expect, there’s no guaranteed happily-ever-after, the world can be bleak and the story is realistic. People die, shit happens and the ‘goodie’ has a nasty streak.
What do you do to recharge your creative energy?
I’ve always been very drawn to water. Being around it, whether a river, lake, pond, sea, canal etc. always seems to soothe me.
Currently, I’m very lucky to live near to the sea. When I need to take a break to recharge I often go for a walk on the beach. Looking out at the great expanse of ocean and endless sky helps to clear my mind. I like to sit and watch the waves lapping at the shore. The constant motion is relaxing and motivating. It seems to say to me, “keep going,” and so I always feel refreshed when I get home.
I also love going on long treks up mountains! There’s something very inspiring about being surrounded by nature. Following a set path up the mountain and then back down allows my mind to wander freely as I don’t need to worry about anything other than putting one foot in front of the other. The idea for my trilogy came when I was trekking in Nepal’s Annapurna sanctuary.
What reactions do you hope to inspire in others?
I hope that readers of my writing will enjoy the vivid descriptions and deep world building. I like to take them to new worlds, where they can understand a character’s actions in the context of that world, rather than our own. My aim is that some of the customs in the strange worlds make a reader think, “What if?” and prompt them to use their imagination.
One reviewer recently described Melokai as “intensely interesting” which I really appreciated. My goal is for readers to find my world intriguing, and perhaps a little strange, rather than generic or dull.
Where is your writing taking you?
At the moment I’m working on book two of the In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy. I wrote it in late 2017/early 2018 but then changed my mind about a couple of things, so am in the process of a rewrite and heavy editing.
There’s a short story planned, set in the same world, called The Clash at Jagged Canyon which should be out in an anthology in early 2019. There are more short stories and novellas in the pipeline, as well as one standalone novel and another trilogy all set in the same world. That’s quite a few years of writing… but I’m game!
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