I started my writing career as an elementary kid with a penchant for fairies. Young as I was, even back then I was writing a book series in which every book relied on the world-building I had created. I was a bit haphazard in my approach, after all I was a kid, but I took the lessons I learned and funneled them into the next project, and the next, and the next.
These days I write about fantasy adventures set in Norway, following a group of kids as they take on bad guys in their attempt to save the world. Each book builds on the last and adds new dimension to the world I’ve created. Have you ever wondered how to do that yourself? From my experience it takes time and patience, trial and error, research, and a willingness to explore the world as if you were the reader and not the author.
Let me take you through the journey of how Zaria Fierce came to be.
If you’ve followed me for some time, you may have heard the story of how I started the books with my main character, but I had no idea what to do with her. Zaria was an enigma waiting for me to puzzle out. I tried placing her in different places and with different settings, but nothing gelled. It was pretty frustrating because Zaria Fierce had become like a friend to me. She and I were on a journey together, but every start proved to be the wrong move.
Eventually, I had an eureka moment. Zaria and I landed in the middle of Norway. Immediately, the setting felt right to me. Zaria had a home. She didn’t have much else, but she and I had made progress. We were no longer searching in the dark for a place to start her story, we had found it and it was just right, as Goldilocks would say.
Next, came figuring out her antagonist. We had tried several things along the way in our search for the right setting, but nothing had panned out. I didn’t want any of those bad guys. They were too pedestrian. So Zaria and I wrote about going to school and seemingly out of nowhere a bridge appeared and then a troll! It wasn’t out of nowhere though. I have loved Norwegian folklore for a long time – one example of this is that my favorite ride at Epicot was the Norwegian ride when it was Maelstrom. I had a rich background to draw upon and I immediately followed up by reading other folktales.
It’s been a few years and a few books later from those humble beginnings. Zaria and her friends have encountered a lot on their adventures. We have seafaring trolls, giants with whale pods, wyverns that can fly, wyverns that can swim, ellefolken princes who transform, a witch in the woods without a name, and a changeling who wants to be human.
Speaking of that changeling, Aleks Mickelsen is going to be taking on the mantle of storyteller in the next three books. We’ll be seeing the world through his eyes. It’s been so much fun to dive back into the world Zaria and I created together. Aleks’ stories will plumb the depths of the world and bring out new facets. We’ll meet troll kids and befriend new creatures and face new bad guys. I hope you’ll join us on the next Fierce Adventure – Aleks Mickelsen and the Twice-Lost Fairy Well!