Please join me in welcoming PAN author, Leanna Renee Hieber, to the FF&P blog.
I write series books. Considering I’m here on the FF and P blog today, I figure I’m in good company. Fantasy books formed my literary passions from an early age; all of them series books. When you start writing those series books, you better love the world you’ve built because who knows how long it will be with you. When I began The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker I didn’t know it was a four book series. When you plant fertile seeds, who knows what might sprout.
I want this post to become a discussion between authors, published and pre-published, of what we love about our worlds and why they become addictive to us.
Every author has their own process, mine begins with character. An idea of them comes to me and then I sit back and watch them as if they were actors in a film (sometimes I’ll cast my characters) and I write the movie that I watch in my head. Characters in my mind’s eye are placed within a setting, the details of which emerge as I think more about the characters. But the characters have to live somewhere. My lifetime love affair with ghosts and Victorian England of course drew me to make their world a “realistic” Victorian universe haunted by ghosts and mythological forces.
Once I build a world via character and a setting that’s compelling to me, things keep growing, people and ideas grow more complex, and that for me is the most rewarding part of writing, how the petals of the rose begin to bloom. So while I love all of the supernatural devices, mythic conventions and Gothic trappings I happily call upon, what actually keeps me falling more and more in love with my characters is watching them grow. Watching them grow up as I grow up and listening for them to tell me things I didn’t know about them. (I’m working on edits to book II, writing book III and IV right now, they’re all dove-tailing upon each other so I’m switching back and forth in my mind, whatever is calling to me wins. I’m learning a lot about my characters right now and every little piece informs the rest of the work and worlds.)
Here’s how I open the world of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker: The theme of this initial opening is something I find myself returning to as the series continues…
Prologue - London, England—1867
The air in London was grey. This was no surprise; but the common eye could not see the particular heaviness of the atmosphere or the unusual weight of this special day’s charcoal clouds: The sky was pregnant with a potent wind, for The Guard was searching for new hosts.
On to London they came, and that wind full of spirits began to course through the streets of the city; merciless, searching. Around corners, elbowing aside London’s commoners and high society alike, nudging their way through market crowds and tearing down dirty alleys, they sought their intended. A candle burst into flame in the window of a marquess’s house. The tiny cry of a young boy summoned his mother into the drawing room. Similar sounds went up in other parts of the city, confused gasps growing into amazed giggles before being subdued into solemnity. One by one the intended targets were seized.
Six. Five …Where is Four? Ah … Four.
Alone and unaccompanied, the children left their respective houses and began to walk.
Searching for the final piece, the greatest of the possessors paused, a hesitating hunter. Deliberate. And, finally … the brightest, boldest, most promising catch of the day..
One, and done! A sigh of relief. The city’s infamous fog thinned.
Only a bird above espied the six drawing toward London’s center; weaving through a maze of clattering carriages, stepping cautiously over putrid puddles, a sextet of children looked about the cluttered merchant lanes and sober business avenues with new eyes and saw strange sights. There were ghosts everywhere: floating through walls and windows, they rose up through streets and strolled beside quiet couples! One by one, each transparent form turned to the children, who could only stare in wonder and apprehension. In ethereal rags, spirits of every century bowed in deference, as if they were passing royalty.
Drawn in a pattern from all corners of London, the six children gathered in a knot at the crest of Westminster Bridge. Nodding a silent greeting to one another, or curtseying, the youths found each other’s faces unsettlingly mature. Excitement tempered only by confusion crept into their expressions as they evaluated their new peers, in garb ranging from fine clothing to simple frocks, their social statuses clearly as varied as their looks.
A spindly girl whose brown hair was pinned tightly to her head kept turning, looking for something, clutching the folds of her linen frock and shifting on the heels of her buttoned boots. It was her tentative voice that at last broke the silence: “Hello. I’m Rebecca. Where is our leader, then?”
A sturdy, ruddy-cheeked boy in a vest and cap, cuffs rolled to his elbows, gestured to the end of the street. “Hello, Rebecca, I’m Michael. Is that him?”
Approaching the cluster was a tall, well-dressed, unmistakable young man. A mop of dark hair held parley with the wind, blowing about the sharp features of his face, while timeless, even darker eyes burned in their sockets. His fine black suit gave the impression of a boy already a man. He reached the group and bowed, his presence magnetic, confident … and somewhat foreboding. In a rich, velvet voice deep as the water of the Thames, he spoke. “Good day. My name is Alexi Rychman, and this has turned into the strangest day of my life.”
(End of Excerpt) More details at http://www.leannareneehieber.com/ Where I hope you’ll join in the Strangely Beautiful Haunted London Blog Tour beginning 8/22 and Contest on 8/25!
Your turn to talk about what you love about your worlds!
Leanna Renee Hieberwww.leannareneehieber.com2009 Prism Award Winner: DARK NESTUpcoming from Leisure Books / Dorchester Publishing:THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER - the ghostly, Gothic, Victorian fantasy begins 8/25/09!