In this first of a series of three things, I've asked author S.L. Dunn to share three things he learned from placing a story in both a fantasy and real world setting. Without further ado, here's S.L. Dunn!
Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.
Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine.
S.L. Dunn is awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. Tour dates can be found here: Goddessfish Promotions Blog
S.L. Dunn's Three Things
Three things I learned from setting Anthem’s Fall in both the world of Anthem and New York City:
1) Setting is a pivotal element to any story.
Where would Bilbo Baggins be without Middle Earth? Where would Harry potter be without Hogwarts? Or Luke Skywalker without his particular galaxy from a long time ago and far, far away . . .
All of the most beloved fantasy and science fiction stories lean heavily on the unique places in which they take place. In some cases the setting, not character or plot, is what can define genre fiction. When I set out to write Anthem’s Fall, my goal was to steep the calamitous plotline in rich imagery and relatable scenes. I had a special opportunity to present a world familiar to the reader in New York City, and one that was altogether new in Anthem.
What I learned along the way was that this layout presented a unique opportunity to deliberately juxtapose and relate one seemingly dissimilar place to another. The fantasy of Anthem could strengthen the scenes in New York City, and the stripped down realism of New York City’s streets could anchor the fantastical vision of Anthem. Combined, they could coalesce fantasy and reality to form a sweeping and dramatic setting for an epic action adventure.
2) World Creating
The task of creating an entire world was a heavy burden in the initial phase of my writing.
It was my hope to breathe life into a futuristic world that looked more like an ancient society than a world one might normally associate with science fiction. Anthem is futuristic, and home to advanced technology, but I wanted the world and its people to be more reminiscent of an ancient barbarian society than any advanced dystopia. It’s a society controlled by a dynasty of brutal warriors, and despite the long history of Anthem, it is very clear to the reader that Anthem is more barbaric than New York City.
As I developed the world of Anthem, I learned how many rules a made-up world still require. Ironically, I found myself catching more glitches and flubs in my own constructed reality than the mistakes I made with the streets of New York. I never would have imaged how strict a writer’s own rules have to be in order to achieve believability in a made-up world. My rules for Anthem became more constricting than the rules of writing about a modern NYC.
Simultaneously introducing readers to a familiar world along with one that’s utterly new to them is a special task. A writer can play an extraordinary game of tug of war with a reader’s imagination—grounding it with normalcy on one page and then lifting it up to thundering heights when the time is right.
However, when “world creating”, there are so many factors to consider. What is this world’s history? How do its people think, and what ideologies do they cling to? In order for the reader to care about Anthem’s fall (as in, Anthem’s Fall) he or she first has to care about Anthem.
Forming the backstory of a world and its people is an incredibly enjoyable experience, but one in which I had to be very careful. Long exposition spent describing a world’s history could kill the story flat. I learned that divulging the backstory of an entire world is an exercise in subtlety. Because you are writing a novel, not a history book, you have to allow the reader to connect the lines and draw their own inferences from hints and suggestions in the text.
An Excerpt from Anthem's Fall
The sharp knife of apocalypse struck without warning, burying itself into the unsuspecting skies of a sunswept afternoon.
In the northernmost continent of Anthem, the remote city of Municera abruptly reported massive and inexplicable reports of rioting and hysteria. The limited transmissions that came out of the city were fragmented and unclear. Imperial Army regiments were at once dispatched to restore order to the city of Municera, yet all troops lost radio contact within minutes of their arrival. Powerful reverberations shook through the surrounding lands, reaching miles in every direction. It felt as though the gods themselves were hammering the very world with furious impacts. From a distance, billowing black pillars of smoke could be seen reaching high into the sky above the smoldering city. When the smoke and cloud of ash dispersed in the northern winds, the glimmering skyscrapers that had long been an icon of the elegant Municera had vanished from the skyline. Their steel and glass splendor was replaced with a blanket of alarming ruin. By midafternoon, the once prominent city was nothing more than wreckage against the horizon.
Most disturbing were the spreading rumors that a number of Imperial First Class soldiers had flown into the chaos of Municera and had yet to return.
The migration out of the region—an anticipated exodus for which the Imperial Council had quickly prepared—never arrived, and as a disquieting sun set on the remaining cities of the Epsilon empire, the truth became increasingly clear. There were no survivors.
Municera had been home to seven million Primus.
About S.L. Dunn
S.L. Dunn is the debut author of Anthem’s Fall, a novel he wrote amid the wanderings of his mid twenties. He has written while living intermittently in St. John USVI, Boston, Maine and Seattle. Raised on big screen superheroes and pop science fiction, he sought to create a novel that bridged a near-sci-fi thriller with a grand new fantasy. He currently resides in Seattle with his girlfriend Liz and their dog Lucy, and is hard at work completing the next book of the Anthem’s Fall series. Get in touch at www.sldunn.com.
Angela Shelley, herself.
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