GUEST BLOG World Building In Your Novel

Adventuring into new worlds with author Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh is a paranormal romance author whose new book Shield Of Winter came out yesterday

I love building worlds in my books.

For those who have never read romance, there is an assumption that romance novels are simplistic. Those of us who love romances know that nothing could be further from the truth—the genre spans a huge range, from deeply emotional stories that explore the everyday worlds of the characters, to stories of adventure, to those that take us all the way into space and to other planets.

In my current books, I don’t head off-planet, but instead reimagine our own world. What if we had incredible psychic abilities? What if there was a terrible cost to those abilities? What if they drove us mad? What would we do to survive?

These questions led to the genesis of the Psy-Changeling series. But as you can see, the questions I ask myself are based on character, rather than the physical surroundings of the world. I have friends who map out their world prior to writing, but I’ve always preferred to see it through the eyes of the characters, to explore alongside them. This suits me as a writer (though I’ve been told by writer friends that it would drive them insane).

Part of the reason it suits me is that I love the gradual unfolding of the world, of having new discoveries around every corner. As I walk with an angel through his home, only for him to open a door and step out into nothingness, I gasp and realize that of course a winged being would have a home at the edge of a cliff, or high in an aerie. They have no fear of falling, their wings snapping out to bear them aloft, or to take them soaring across the landscape.

It feels very organic for me to write this way, but it also means I have to keep a constantly updated “story bible” with all the details of the world and the characters. I don’t start with a bible when writing the very first book in a series – I build that bible as I go. It becomes more complex over time, and is a resource I refer to in relation to both the characters and the world. Because with each book, both the characters and the world change.

For example, in my Guild Hunter world, Beijing no longer exists. We saw it as a thriving city, then we saw it obliterated as a result of an explosion of archangelic power. In later books, it’s spoken of as a crater.

I’m thirteen books into the Psy-Changeling series with Shield Of Winter , and the world is just as fascinating to me now as it was with the very first book. The greatest challenge is to not wander off on tangents when the characters show me a glimpse of another fascinating aspect. I have to save those tangents for later books, or for short stories! I can’t imagine leaving this world, and for now, I don’t have to – I’m already at work on the next book, and the next adventure.

What are your favorite fictional worlds? Why do you love that world (or those worlds) so much?

Nalini Singh

The novel Shield Of Winter , a Psy-Changeling book, is published by Gollancz and is available now in hardback and as an ebook . The Psy-Changeling series are New York Times bestsellers. Nalini Singh was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She spent three years living and working in Japan, and travelling around Asia before returning. Discover more about her novels at www.nalinisingh.com .