Take it away, Sharon.
My first novel, The Charge, was an alternate history. So, as you can imagine, worldbuilding was a pretty big deal. I had to create a fictional historical timeline and fictional countries and cities, all within the parameters of real history.
Then, I started The December People Series, and actually wanted to accomplish the opposite. I wanted to show wizards against a very real backdrop, which meant that my worldbuilding was not about building a world that doesn't exist, but re-creating the real world. Back when I did the worldbuilding blogfest, I reminded everyone that worldbuiling was not just important for sci-fi and fantasy--ALL stories need good worldbuilding. But, I never saw how true that was until I created my own real world.
I think authors writing in the real world often gloss over worldbuilding. I mean, why not? Everyone knows what the real world is like. However, that's not exactly true. Settings are different. Some of the stories that stand out to me when it comes to worldbuilding, were not set in fantasy worlds, but in different countries or cultures. I loved getting to experience a different part of the real world. I also love getting to see my own home and culture highlighted with good worldbuilding.
Details are critical. In Destruction, I reference restaurants and stores. I talk about movies they've seen. However, worldbuilding is not just about places, it's about how the characters think and act. When the Vandergraffs find out they are wizards, they try to understand their new identity within their real world. They wonder things like: How are they like, or not like, the wizards from Harry Potter? How does this fit in to their Christian beliefs? Are there wizards in the Bible?
When David walked into the Oppenheimers’ home, he could tell right away they loved their children, Jesus, and slaughtering animals, hopefully in that order. David could hardly spot a piece of yellowed paisley wallpaper not covered by a family photo, wooden cross, stitched Bible verse, or hunting trophy. Their house smelled of bacon grease, bug spray, and a mild whiff of taxidermy chemicals. In time, this potpourri became a welcoming fragrance. This house would later become Me Maw and Papa’s house, a place his kids loved visiting as much as Six Flags.
More about Destruction...
Introducing a new dark wizard family drama, Destruction by Sharon Bayliss, Book One in The December People Series.
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David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.
Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.
Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.