The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome author J.A. Jaken on the Through the Last Door blog tour. Enjoy JA’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for a chance to win an e-copy of the book.
My favorite part of writing a fantasy story is world-building. Figuring out the world’s history, its geography, its physical and political laws, its economics, its religion, its science. Is it going to have magic in it? If so, how is it going to work? Who will be able to use it? What is the government like? The military? What kinds of cities and villages are there? What does their architecture and general layout look like? What are the people of this fictional universe like? Their language? Are there any limitations on what can or should be done within this world?
Writing Through the Last Door was no different. Before I ever sat down to start plotting out the story, I had to have a world to start writing in. The very first thing I did was pick up a pencil and start sketching out a map. I needed to have some idea physically of what the country of Kazure was going to look like. That was going to be a major plot point, after all: I knew from the start that Kaori wasn’t going to be the type of monarch to sit at home and wait for things to happen around him. He was going to go out into the world and make things happen. He was going to investigate, he was going to explore. It followed logically that he was going to need a world to go exploring in.
I initially came up with the idea to make him a High Lord instead of a king, and to put a collection of lesser lords underneath him, to create conflict within the story. Especially for a young, newly inaugurated ruler who had a serious lack of confidence in his ability to rule, that seemed like a good way to highlight different parts of his personality by giving him opportunities both to doubt himself and shine as a leader as he interacted with the various lords who served under him.
I didn’t want to focus too strongly on magic in this story, to the point where it would save the day at every opportunity, but it was definitely a major part of this particular universe. I decided to make the magic more elemental in nature, and its practitioners would tend to focus on one or two aspects of it in their mastery of the Art: life magic, earth magic, fire magic, water magic, etc. Then there were more complex combinations: for example, the field of nature magic is a combination of both earth magic and life magic, and tends to be a more specialized area of study. I had detailed rules mapped out for how the magic worked and what types of things it could accomplish, even though we see relatively little of it in this story. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the sequel if I decide to write it, because of a certain character who is currently residing with Kaori at the end of this current story.
I think my favorite part of the world-building process was coming up with the history and politics of the eight lands of Kazure. Each of the eight Council lords has their own history, as do the individual lands they preside over. I didn’t get to include near as much of their story in this current book as I would have liked to, which is what makes me want to write a sequel at some point. This first book was more about Kaori coming into his own and learning that he really can be the ruler that Kazure needs and also be the man he needs to be to remain true to himself. It’s largely about his inner journey, as much as there are huge, world-changing events going on outside of him. A sequel would give me more of an opportunity to focus on a lot of those world-building details that didn’t get a chance to surface in this current book.
Now it’s just a matter of sitting down to write it. ^_^
Blurb: When Kaori Sansa’s father dies, he is forced to return home to claim the throne as the rightful heir of the country of Kazure. In the aftermath of his father’s death, he learns that the country he loves is riddled with corruption, and is hovering on the brink of war. Will he be able to hold the kingdom together despite the odds that are stacked against it, and somehow unlock the buried powers of Shinja, the Sacred Beast of Kazure?
About the Author: J.A. Jaken has been writing m/m fiction for more than ten years. She got her start in the profession writing slash fanfiction, where she has published numerous stories under the pen-name Rushlight. Over the years she has written short stories and novels in genres ranging from science fiction/fantasy to gothic horror to modern detective mysteries. Outside of writing, her interests include studying foreign languages, riding horses, practicing martial arts, and collecting medieval weaponry.
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