2013 RT Awards Nominees Celebration: Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding

Every year, the review staff at RT Book Reviews reads and rates more than three thousand books. And when each year draws to a close, we pick the best of the bunch for our readers to enjoy — the Reviewers’ Choice Awards. For the next few weeks, leading up to Thanksgiving, we’re going to be celebrating the nominations for many of these awards, across genres. We hope you’ll join us in congratulating all these wonderful authors, and, hey, if you find a great new book to read, all the better! Today, we'll be taking a look at the nominees for Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding!





Jennifer Estep, Heart of Venom

What's your approach to planning and creating a new world before you start a new series?

I usually start with my heroine and think about who she is, what kind of magic/power she has, and how that magic/power can grow and change. After I have my heroine in mind, I’ll start writing and creating the world around her. I’m a panster, so I write multiple drafts of a book, figuring out and filling in more and more details of the magic system with every new draft until the world building is complete.

Who's your favorite secondary/supporting character in your Elemental Assassin world?

Finnegan Lane, Gin’s foster brother, is one of my favorite secondary/supporting characters in my Elemental Assassin series. Finn is a shameless, greedy womanizer who says outrageous things all the time. He’s just a lot of fun for me to write, and readers really seem to like his character.

Diana Pharaoh Francis, Blood Winter

What's your approach to planning and creating a new world before you start a new series?

If it’s set in a real world setting, I start with a lot of research about the place. If I can, I’ll visit. Then I start skewing off and making changes, according to the story I want. For instance, what if this mountain really hides a witches coven inside it? How would a coven survive in the real world? As I start answering those, more crop up. Eventually I reach a tipping point where I know the world well enough and it feels tangibly real enough, that I can start writing.

Who's your favorite secondary character in your Horngate Witches world?

You know, I love my secondary characters in these books. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is to pick just one. I even love the bad guys. They were all so fun to write. But if I have to pick just one, I’m going with Tutresiel. More than anything, it’s because he comes into the story so angry and full of himself, and while he still stays totally full of himself, he develops friendships he’s never had before and it’s really fun to watch him flounder with these new feelings. 

Kristen Painter, Last Blood

What's your approach to planning and creating a new world before you start a new series? 

You mean people plan for this stuff? Hmm. I guess I do to some extent. I spend a lot of time thinking about my world and my story. A LOT of time. When an idea gets into my head, it's in there 24-7. I wake up thinking about it, drift off during conversations to think about it, fall asleep thinking about it ... it becomes my personal obsession. Then the notes begin. I write down whatever seems the stickiest. Sometimes that's a character sketch, sometimes it's a few lines of dialogue that intrigue me — it could even be a piece of a scene that keeps playing out in my head like a movie clip. Once I get to that point, it's time to start writing and hope it gels. 

Who's your favorite secondary/supporting character in your House of Comarrï world?

I loved so many of them! But there was one who stuck with me — Augustine, the mixed blood fae with a dislike for responsibility and a love for all the pleasures of the flesh. I barely scratched the surface of who he was and I knew he had a story to tell. Fortunately, I'm getting to do that in my new series out this May! It's a spin-off, set in the same world, but this time I'm shifting the focus to the fae in the Haven City of New Orleans. And Augustine is the hero! I'm well into writing book two and I'm happy to say Augustine is every bit as fun as I thought he'd be.

Diana Rowland, Touch of the Demon

What's your approach to planning and creating a new world before you start a new series? 

Step one: Get a neat idea. Step two: Engage in a lot of "what if?" dialogue with myself and come up with some basic concepts. Step Three: Bounce the ideas off of people whose opinions I trust. Step Four: Throw out half of my original basic concepts because they don't survive scrutiny. Step Five: Do more "what if?" stuff with the remaining concepts. Step Six: Brainstorm with other people. Step Seven: Write that thing! Step Eight: Realize that some concepts might not survive the writing process, and be willing to change and adjust accordingly. Steps One through Nine: Keep careful notes!

Who's your favorite supporting character in your Kara Gillian world?

My absolute favorite supporting character in the Kara Gillian world is easily Special Agent Zack Garner. He's had to make some very difficult choices (some of which are revealed in Fury of the Demon), and he's one who understands the impact of everything that's happened to Kara and to the demonic lords. Developing his arc over the course of the series has been challenging because it's fairly complex, but it's also been a great deal of fun.

Jeff Somers, Trickster

What's your approach to planning and creating a new fictional world before you start a new series?

It always starts with an image, actually. Sometimes its a burning bush, sometimes it's something more mundane, like a grilled cheese sandwich. Which often means I just want a grilled cheese sandwich and doesn't have anything to do with writing novels. In the case of Trickster that image was an old man, dressed in rags, levitating in an empty parking lot while a kid in pajamas stared at him. Everything else gets built on top of that, but the process itself is very chaotic — there's never any plan. Just like the rest of my life, which is lived in a state of sweating panic at all times. Because of incompetence.

Who's your favorite secondary/supporting character in your Ustari Cycle world?

If I say any name other than Pitr Mags, fans of the book will show up at my house with pitchforks — but he *is* my favorite. Mags is the heart and soul of the story, a being of pure good, really. He began life because I wanted to show that the use of magic in this universe had nothing to do with how smart you were. If you could bleed, you could cast. And also because I've been told repeatedly that I am not allowed to make myself a character in my own books. Mags is based on me, though, down to his immense physical strength and dimwittedness, so I win!

Eileen Wilks, Ritual Magic

What's your approach to planning and creating a new fictional world before you start a new series?

A lot of day-dreaming. I think about characters, magical systems, life after death, what it would be like to live for hundreds of years, cataclysms, burial customs, history, brain science, sex ... actually, these are things I think about, period. And read about. After awhile some of them come together into a possible new world to explore.

Who's your favorite secondary/supporting character in your World of the Lupi universe?

Grandmother. I want to be her when I grow up.

Many congratulations to these authors and their books on their 2013 Best Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding nominations, and check back tomorrow as we celebrate another set of award nominees. For the full list of 2013 award nominees, click here.