Mark T. Barnes lives in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of the epic fantasy Echoes of Empire series, published by 47North. The series includes The Garden of Stones (released May 2013), The Obsidian Heart (released October 2013), and the forthcoming third and final volume in the trilogy, The Pillars of Sand (out May 20, 2014). You can find out more at www.marktbarnes.com, his Facebook page, or follow Mark on Twitter as @MarkTBarnes.

Five World Building Tips for Aspiring Epic Fantasists

by Mark T. Barnes

Mark Twain once said, “The difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction has to be believable.” As readers we’re sometimes more inclined to believe the most incredulous things in the world around us, but are less forgiving about what happens in fantasy.

As a writer, the chance to start with a blank canvas and speculate on everything is one of the best parts of my job. But Mark Twain was right: our fiction needs to be believable, and that starts with the worlds we build. In building my own epic fantasy universe, these were a few of the core principles I found useful:
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Amalie Howard grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie’s poem “The Candle,” written at age twelve, was published in a University of Warwick journal. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was selected as a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. She is also the author of the Aquarathi series from Harlequin Teen (Waterfell, out now, and Oceanborn, available August, 2014), as well as The Almost Girl from Strange Chemistry (available now) and Alpha Goddess from Sky Pony Press (coming March 2014).

Science Fiction and Science Fact
World-building in THE ALMOST GIRL
by Amalie Howard

According to the laws of physics, time travel and inter-dimensional travel are both possible. Having been a science fiction fan for most of my life (Star Wars, Dune, Aliens and The Fifth Element all grace my top 10 movie list), when I wrote The Almost Girl, I knew the world-building and the concept of jumping between universes, had to be complex but relatable, especially for a young adult market. As a fiction writer, any world has to have rules, and those rules have to be consistent or the world falls apart. So step one was definitely research.
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Michael J. Martinez is a novelist, a title which still takes him by surprise now and then. He’s the author of The Daedalus Incident (one of Library Journal‘s best of SF/Fantasy for 2013) and the novella The Gravity of the Affair, now available in ebook and Audible audio. The next novel in the Daedalus series, The Enceladus Crisis, is due this spring, and there’s a third book in the trilogy that he should really finish soon. He lives in the greater New York City area with his incredible wife and amazing daughter. He blogs at http://michaeljmartinez.net and Tweets at @mikemartinez72.

Building Out Worlds, One Piece At A Time

by Michael J. Martinez

One of the things, I think, that make science fiction and fantasy so popular is the immense possibility of the settings authors create. Done right, the reader knows that they’re reading a snapshot of time within an immensely complicated, rich world. George R.R. Martin gives hints as to the massive history of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Star Wars Expanded Universe keeps, well…expanding. J.K. Rowling is going back to the well for more stories set in her Harry Potter universe.

When you build a setting – and you’re doing it right – the reader gets a mere taste of all the work that went into making a living, breathing world. You can’t fake that sense of depth. It’s either there or it’s not. That often means simply alluding to details, rather than spelling things out. And that leaves a lot of stuff on the cutting room floor.
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Nina D’Aleo wrote her first book at age seven (a fantasy adventure about a girl named Tina and her flying horse). Due to most of the book being written with a feather dipped in water, no one else has ever read ‘Tina and White Beauty’. Many more dream worlds and illegible books followed. Nina blames early exposure to Middle-earth and Narnia for her general inability to stick to reality. She also blames her parents. And her brother. Nina has completed degrees in creative writing and psychology. She currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, George, their two sons, Josef and Daniel, and two cats, Mr Foofy and Gypsy. She spends most of her days playing with toys, saying things like share, play gentle, and let’s eat our veggies and hearing things like no, no way and NEVER! She is the author of The Demon War Chronicles, comprised of The Last City and The Forgotten City.

Worldbuilding in Sci-Fi & Fantasy

by Nina D’Aleo

An idea has sprouted – a character has breathed their first breath – a place has jumped from monochrome to colour in your mind. A story is born!

Now what?

The answer will always differ between writers, but for me – it’s time to build a world!
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Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not planning Shadow Campaigns, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts. Visit him online at djangowexler.com.

The Thousand Names Blog Tour: Launching The Shadow Campaigns
Training: Using History to Build a Fantasy Society

How important is it that fantasy be ‘historically accurate?’
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Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing. She kindly sat down to an interview with me. I have no idea if she was knitting while answering my questions.


Paul Weimer: Who is Leah Petersen?

Leah Petersen: Leah Petersen’s a bit of a rebel and likes to shock people. She hides this behind her secret identity of good wife and mother with an accounting job in the conservative Southeastern US. She’s less successful at hiding it than she thinks. She’s a bit likely to express her opinion…whether she’s asked for it or not.

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