It’s the last day of winter and not quite 4 weeks since I resubmitted my story to a publisher. This is by no means a long time in publishing timescales, but I’m now allowing myself to think about the possibility that the next time I check my inbox there *might* be an email sitting there with a publishing contract attached to it. (Hey, I’m an author. Imagining nearly impossible things is what I’m good at!)
As we all know, keeping busy makes the time pass faster, and the way I’ve been keeping busy is by working on two new novels.
One is set in the Australian bush, which is quite straightforward to describe and easy to research. Going for a bushwalk and looking, listening, smelling and feeling the atmosphere/texture of plants/different surfaces beneath my feet should give me enough material to draw on when I design the backdrop of my novel. This is known as world building. Even if a story is set in the present day in a familiar setting (which this one is), there are other things to consider when building your world. The mood of a character affects the way they perceive the world. The time of day changes the appearance, sound and activity levels of wildlife. Some regions of the world experience larger daily temperature variations in summer, whereas in Brisbane, where I live, this happens in winter. If you’re writing about real places, it’s important to get this right. If you don’t, the locals will know and they won’t appreciate it. They may even stop reading your book and vow never to read anything you write again!
The other story I’m working on, like many recent and popular young adult novels, is set in a dystopian future. (Dystopia is “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”) While I enjoy reading these novels, I get the feeling if they’d been sent to my commissioning editor, they may have been sent back to the author with a request for better world building. Not all of them are clear about what immediately preceded and caused the unpleasant state of things, and although some do make mention of “the war”, details about the nature of the conflict and the catalyst for it are completely lacking. I’m determined not to make the same mistake in my novel, so I’m doing a lot of research on climate science and human causes of global warming. It’s very interesting, and makes me not want to drive anywhere or eat fruit that I haven’t grown in my own backyard (which would mean I would go very, very hungry). It’s a serious issue, and I hope that the finished product will not only be entertaining but thought-provoking.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a world to build.