Thursday 16 May 2019

Blog Tour: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

Today I am one of three bloggers kicking off the blog tour for Kingsbane by Claire Legrand, who I keep wanting to call Claire Legend and how striking do the covers look? As part of my stop on the tour, Claire is sharing with us how she (re) built the world in the Empirium Trilogy.


(Re)Building the World of the Empirium Trilogy

by Claire Legrand

The world of the Empirium Trilogy wasn’t always what it is now. Originally, the story took place not in the fictional world of Avitas, but rather in our own world. Rielle Dardenne—one of the story’s protagonists—existed in a forgotten past, her era concealed from historical record by various dark forces. Empirium’s other protagonist, Eliana Ferracora, lived in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic version of the southern United States and grew up in the city of New Orleans.

As the years went on, while my original vision for the story remained essentially the same, the world in which it took place evolved. Several years into working on the trilogy, and three versions into the book that would become Furyborn, I followed the sound advice of my agent at the time and decided the trilogy should be a second-world fantasy—that is, a fantasy story that takes place in a world that’s not our own. (Think Middle-earth, rather than the wizarding society of the Harry Potter universe.)

Suddenly, the work I’d done to build the world of the Empirium Trilogy needed to be thrown out and re-engineered. Certain elements remained the same—the nature of the empirium itself, for example—but now I had to construct an entirely new world for Eliana’s side of the story in particular. Gone were the streets of the French Quarter, the mansions outside Charleston, South Carolina, and the dusty paths of Providence Canyon near Eufaula, Georgia (where a pivotal scene from the book that would become Kingsbane took place).

Instead, New Orleans became Orline. The Charlestonian mansions became the glittering coastal city of Festival, in the kingdom of Meridian (a location readers will first see in Kingsbane). And Providence Canyon became a wooded field outside the fictional city of Karlaine, also in a country called Meridian. New Orleans’s Garden District became Orline’s Garden Quarter. A cult of fanatics in the nuclear wastelands of Missisippi, led by a tyrannical woman named Mama Goody, became the fanatical angel-loving cult called Fidelia.

Spooky, right? The story felt so different back then, even though the actual plot points were largely the same, simply because the world was so different.

Something that helped me refocus my vision for the trilogy was spending a lot of time on Tumblr and, later, on Pinterest, searching for illustrations and fantasy art that struck a creative chord with me. When I found an image I liked, I jotted down notes about why I liked it and to what part of this slowly forming new world it might belong. I’m slowly revealing some of these images on my Empirium Trilogy Pinterest board, if you’re interested in following along.

Another thing that was hugely important as I began the mammoth task of rethinking my story world was allowing myself plenty of time to play and explore. Beginning this process almost felt like being dropped down in the middle of a faraway, unfamiliar land, and having to stumble through the painstaking process of mapping it. I made pages upon pages of notes that ended up

getting scrapped, which was okay (though occasionally frustrating at the time), because every scrapped page brought me one step closer to realizing how I wanted this world to look and feel.

If you are also a writer, and find yourself having to rethink the world of the story you’re writing, try not to despair. Take your time to redesign your world with intention and curiosity. Listen to music. Browse images. Revisit beloved books featuring world building you admire (one of these, for me, is Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; another is Libba Bray’s The Diviners).

In real life, the best way to become acquainted with a new place is to explore it at your own pace, while paying attention to the food, the customs, the clothing, the quirks and oddities. It’s the same when you’re getting to know a story world. And for me, allowing myself years to explore and experiment made it possible for the Empirium Trilogy to be reborn as a smarter, sleeker, more purposeful version of itself.

Part of the Kingsbane Blog Tour

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