Today, please help me welcome author Philippa “Pip” Ballantine to Preturnature. Pip is stopping by today as part of her virtual book tour celebrating the release of her book, Weather Child. Weather Child is the first book in Pip’s The Awakened Epoch series and was published on March 1 by Imagine That! Studios.
New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author with her husband Tee Morris of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, and a Sir Julius Vogel. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a furry clowder of cats. You can learn more about Pip by visiting her website, on facebook or by following her on twitter.
ABOUT WEATHER CHILD: Never alone. Never apart. They are the Awakened, a unique breed of people in a remote corner of the world. Faith is one of these gifted carriers of the Seraphim; and in return of her unconditional love, her Seraphim grants her powers of incredible potential. But not all carriers embrace their blessing. Jack loathes being an Awakened. He never asked for it, his Seraphim keeping him alive even in spite of his desire to die. Not even a great war could rid him of this curse. Now a magician of incredible ability and a walking dead man must find a way to work together to save the Seraphim. Someone covets the power of the Awakened, and will not stop until that power belongs to him.
And now, let’s hear from Pip…
World Building with historic blocks
By Philippa Ballantine
When I write fantasy it is usually starting from the ground up, but when I write historical fantasy, it is in many ways harder.
With epic fantasy, you can create mountains, cities, whole nations of people that no one has ever heard of, and as long as you keep some kind of consistency, then that whole world is yours. You invite readers in and if you’ve done well they populate it with their dreams.
In Weather Child, I take the setting of New Zealand between World Wars, and I inject magic. Now despite most of the world-wide audience not knowing much about New Zealand history, there are plenty of New Zealanders who do, and despite the magic, they expect me to handle it with care.
I laid out the framework of the big picture first. The First World War is the setting for the first scene of the novel, and despite the New Zealand forces having magic on their side, the inconsistent nature of it meant that the war was shortened, but the horrors of the Gallipoli campaign were not.
This allowed me to maintain most of the cultural reference points for later on in the story.
The novel has four parts, and each of them hang on four historic events; two fires, a murder case, and an earthquake. Each of these events were big news in New Zealand, so I was able to find lots of old photos, newspaper clippings, and books on the subject matter. However, in my versions the causes of these events are quite different—magic changes everything after all.
In addition to all those historic landmarks, I also wanted to weave into the story some of the more personal history. The book is dedicated to my grandmothers, and my beloved great-aunt who taught me strength and kindness.
So I sewed their stories into Faith, Lily and Jean. No one character is one of them alone, but a lot of their stories and attributes turned up in them. So it was important to me that these women were full fleshed out.
Once I had the history, personal and national all laid out, the fun bit of weaving in the magic went on. The seraphim are mysterious creatures, who live inside certain New Zealanders. They are awakened when their host experience terrible trauma, and while they have no body, they give their host magic. There is naturally a cost, and I imagined all the terrible things that could be; coma, death, madness.
Once these magicians are put into the mix, I had to think about what the consequences of that would be. Would people fear the magicians, or want to join their ranks? Who would police them? Who would want to manipulate them?
That is the thing with world building, there is a cascading effect that flows throughout your writing, and comes to inform character and plot.
Then once all those big issues are tackled and laid out, you can add the embroidered detail. This is where working with an actual place starts to pay off.
I was born and lived most of my life in Wellington, New Zealand. I know how the wind can nearly sweep you off your feet, and almost cut through to your bones. I know the beauty of the harbour and how it reveals itself to you as you come into the city. These are the easy details to add in.
Once at the end, you have created something in historical fantasy, that is a mixture of the real and the imagined. A between state where anything is possible and your characters can play.
Thanks, Pip. Four three lucky winners, Pip is giving away your choice of print or ebook copy of Weather Child in association with her virtual book tour. In order to win, you must leave a comment and then enter below.