We’re so thrilled to have author Jenny Martin on Fangirlish today with a guest post promoting her new book – Tracked. We asked her to talk about the complexities of world building. We hope you enjoy –
When it came to writing Tracked, I’m often asked, which came first, the characters or the world? Honestly, I’m never quite sure how to answer. Because for me, they are inextricably linked—on the page and in the heart, impossibly entwined.
Okay, you got me. I confess. Technically, the premise came first. I was binge watching TV, and I came across the remake of Death Race: 2000 and a documentary called Hot Coffee, which focuses on corporate control and civil rights. But then my science fiction-loving brain went wild. Suddenly, the ‘what if’ questions began spinning out, whispering in my imagination. What if corporations colonized a planet? What if they settled it through claim-staking races? What if racing became the national sport? What if these companies grew too big, too powerful, too out of control?
Who could possibly defy the odds and take down that system?
Right there, in that moment, I met Phee, my main character. To find her, I had to understand her world. To understand her world, I needed her lens. It’s this tension, this dynamic between character and setting, that drives my entire book. And for me, that’s the heart of world-building. The real secret to painting the backdrop of every single scene.
To put it another way, have you ever read a book where the world-building didn’t work? Maybe there was too much of it, and your eyes glazed over as you skimmed over page after page of dry history or meaningless backstory. Or maybe there was too little of it, and you put the book the down, because the characters seemed to be moving across a blank, generic canvas and you just couldn’t dig in. Either way, the root problem is the same. The author failed to pull you under the character’s skin. As far as setting goes, they might as well have delivered a detailed news report—when they should have interpreted a unique experience.
In my case, I tried to deliver Phee’s experience. I tried hard to get into her psyche and see the world through her eyes. To filter everything through her jaded mind and her impulsive heart. The second I made that decision, her home—Planet Castra—came sharply into focus. I knew how the desert heat kissed her skin, how the bright gleam of the Spire intimidated her, how the roar of the speedway crowd nourished her spirit. I understood which parts of the planet’s history she’d have learned in school, which politicians she’d trust, which corporations she’d most despise, and let’s not forget–which spit-shined rigs she’d most want to drive.
Phee—my spitfire heroine–became my compass. In every chapter, I detailed the things she’d notice, as she’d notice them. No more, no less. Yes, there were times I need to add a tidbit or two, for reader clarity, but everything was written in her voice, through her lens. And if I were writing Tracked from Cash’s point of view, or from my villain Benroyal’s point of view, or even from a third person, omniscient narrator’s point of view, the world would stay exactly the same, but my interpretation of it would be completely, perhaps even wildly, different. I think that’s important, and something to strive for, on every page.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that the magic of novels? Books are not movies. We’re not watching external shots of the landscape. We’re looking out, looking at the universe, from within. We’re dropping into a stream of consciousness and swimming around in it. And stroke by stroke, moment by moment, we conjure more than words. If we’re honest enough, and true to the lens, we capture an entire world.
About the Book
Author: Jenny Martin
Pub. Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
The Fast and the Furious gets a futuristic twist in this action-packed debut!
On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn’t stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It’s up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?
Jenny Martin is an author and librarian. Her first novel, Tracked, will be released on May 5th, 2015 by Dial, an imprint of Penguin Random-House. Jenny is also an experienced speaker, panelist and presenter who’s appeared at many state and regional conferences, events and festivals. She lives in Dallas, with her husband and son, where she hoards books and writes fiction. And yes, she’s still on a quest for the perfect pancake.
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5 winners will receive a finished copy of TRACKED and an awesome swag pack! US Only.
5 winners will receive a finished copy of TRACKED! US Only.
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