Creating a Setting for Your Characters
Thanks so much for inviting me back to your blog, Heather. I really appreciate your topic suggestions for my guest posts. Gives me structure, and gives you what you want. Pretty much a win-win!
I’d love to say I use the same process for every book I write, but I don’t. Many of my books begin with an image, or series of images, that form the basis for the book. I occasionally being with an empty world and it tells me what kind of characters it needs. I’ve only rarely begun with a character and formed a world around them.
In Earth’s Requiem, the world came first. It’s a dystopian landscape on an Earth that’s become a battlefield for alien gods and other dark creatures. I needed gutsy, self-contained characters to survive in such a challenging environment, and they came to me.
Aishlinn is a twenty-two year old who’s lost so much she scarcely cares what happens to her next. Rune is a wolf whose last human bondmate was killed by the enemy. Fionn is a Celtic god. Like many of his kind, he withdrew from the world, waiting to see if the current mess would blow over. Bella, his raven bondmate could pass for a sharp-tongued harridan. She cares about Fionn, but not much else. The story arc reunites the characters with their basic humanity, but it’s a long, tough journey.
One of the things I love about urban fantasy, as opposed to high fantasy, is it’s set in the “real” world. No odd names for things. No triple moons transiting the sky. My favorite urban fantasies feel so real, they could actually happen. That hunk living next door could be a closet Celtic god, who’s really been alive for millennia.
I’m also wretchedly old-fashioned. I think we lost something when our lives got very easy. There’s not much challenge left anymore, unless we create it. I think that’s why I’ve had a lifelong love affair with traveling the backcountry with a pack, where I have to rely on my wits. I’ve been cold, lost, and out of food, but I feel ever so much more alive when I get back to civilization.
I give my characters similar challenges. They need wits, creativity, and courage to survive to the next chapter. That their worlds hold surprises, ups the ante.
How about the rest of you writers out there. Do you create characters first, or worlds? Or do they come to you as a unit that refuses to be separated?
Resilient, kickass, and determined, Aislinn's walled herself off from anything that might make her feel again. Until a wolf picks her for a bond mate and a Celtic god rises out of legend to claim her for his own.
Aislinn Lenear lost her anthropologist father high in the Bolivian Andes. Her mother, crazy with grief that muted her magic, was marched into a radioactive vortex by alien creatures and killed. Three years later, stripped of every illusion that ever comforted her, twenty-two year old Aislinn is one resilient, kickass woman with a take no prisoners attitude. In a world turned upside down, where virtually nothing familiar is left, she’s conscripted to fight the dark gods responsible for her father’s death. Battling the dark on her own terms, Aislinn walls herself off from anything that might make her feel again.
Fionn MacCumhaill, Celtic god of wisdom, protection, and divination has been laying low since the dark gods stormed Earth. He and his fellow Celts decided to wait them out. After all, three years is nothing compared to their long lives. On a clear winter day, Aislinn walks into his life and suddenly all bets are off. Awed by her courage, he stakes his claim to her and to an Earth he's willing to fight for.
Aislinn’s not so easily convinced. Fionn’s one gorgeous man, but she has a world to save. Emotional entanglements will only get in her way. Letting a wolf into her life was hard. Letting love in may well prove impossible.
About the Author
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Several paranormal romance novellas are available in e-format. Three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search, and Psyche's Promise are small press publications available in e-format and paperback. Look for two more urban fantasy novels coming this summer and fall: Fortune’s Scion and Earth’s Requiem.
A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.