Reader Girls welcomes debut author Becky McKinnon to our site today. McKinnon has written an intriguing and thought-provoking YA novel entitled Annexed, Book 1 of The Refuge Trilogy.
Desire or responsibility?
She thought she'd made her choice.
Now, finding herself trapped in a world splintered from her own, Narissa is determined to return home. Learning that the means of crossing between realities has been lost, she vows to find the elusive gateway.
Narissa doesn't plan to make friends. She certainly doesn't intend to fall in love.
Faced with the decision, will she choose the life she wants, or return to the world where she belongs?
We welcome Becky McKinnon.
Thoughts On World Building
One of my favorite parts of starting a new book is the world building. Whether the story takes place in the real world, or in a place that exists only in my imagination, it’s exciting to watch the city and landscape appear.
I thought I’d share with you some of the things I consider when creating a city.
Location, location, location.
First, of course, you need to choose your real estate. Will your city sprawl along the coast, or be nestled in the mountains? Will it be on a tropical island, or hide deep in the jungle?
The city in Annexed hides in a mountain. Why? Because that setting could naturally provide the locations I needed. Caves, a lake, cliffs, etc.
The location helps determine this one. If you’re on a tropical island, you won’t be having any ski chalets, any more than an open bungalow would show up in the Alps. How tall are the buildings? How close together? What are they made from? Do they have front porches, or balconies? Are there flower boxes or window shutters?
I chose to combine elements: narrow cobbled streets and dirt paths, log cabins and clapboard siding. I kept the buildings short so the narrow streets aren’t in constant shadow.
Are there open areas, or are the buildings piled together? Will you include fire hydrants, mailboxes and flagpoles? Is there a main street or square where people shop and gather? Is there plumbing, or do you need to include outhouses and public baths?
Symbols are very important in Annexed, and I couldn’t help pulling my love of Celtic knots into the fray. They’re very prevalent: on flags, carved into stone, etc. Each knot, or knot-like symbol, has meaning for the story. Those meanings may not be obvious, but I love that they’re there. I like to include little secrets like that into my worlds. Could someone figure them out? Sure, if they wanted to. But they don’t need to; it doesn’t change the plot. It just adds another level.
A city is rarely just a city. What types of areas surround it? This goes back, again, to location. There could be nothing but ocean, or ominous forests on every side. Farms. Sheer cliffs. How do the surroundings play a part to the city? Do they provide food and protection, or do they allow predators to sneak in?
I included a lot of different things around my city, because this community tries to be self-sufficient. There are farms and orchards, fisheries, a lake, an animal reserve, forests. Each thing provides something the community needs.
Unless you’re creating a ghost town, you need people. What kind of people live in the city you’re creating? Location plays a major part here. Again. You’re not likely to find high society in a swamp.
I’d like to claim that once I create a world nothing changed, but I don’t think anyone would believe me. They shouldn’t! Even though I had the story for the entire trilogy planned before anything was written, adjustments have had to be made. Details needed to be added or rearranged.
For me, that’s a good thing. It makes for a richer world. It also makes for more work when I’m editing and rewriting, because there are more consistencies to check.
Every author has a different way of approaching their world building. I hope you enjoyed a peek at mine!
Annexed, 296 pages, published by CreateSpace, is available now at Amazon (paperback/Kindle) and Barnes&Noble (paperback/Nook).
About the author: Rebecca McKinnon has spent her life in a world filled with books, which she devours at an alarming rate. Her best friends include Bekka Cooper, Lady Katsa, Will Stanton and Ron Weasley. The biggest compliment she can give a book is that it was impossible to put down. She currently lives near Salt Lake City with her husband, three kids and a cat.
We thank Becky McKinnon and will share our review of Annexed soon.