Building a World

Many of you know Laura DiSilverio from her mystery series. I got a chance to catch up with her recently, and was fascinated to hear about a new series she is working on, a YA triology. Welcome back to the Wickeds Laura! Tell us about your new series!

My oldest graduated from high school last May and her gift was a family trip to Universal Studios in Florida. Our actual destination was Hogwarts and the wizarding world of Harry Potter, because those books captivated Lily from the time I read The Sorcerer’s Stone to her as a bedtime story. As we walked into Universal’s meticulously detailed version of Diagon Alley on a hot, muggy Florida morning (is there any other kind?), Lily paused in the middle of the cobbled street, and teared up. “I grew up here,” she said, voice quavering with emotion and wonder.

That simple statement brought tears to my eyes and convinced me the outrageous price for a couple of days in the theme park was worth it. It also made me think about the worlds writers create and how, if we’re lucky or good (or both) they become real and meaningful for readers.

I had my first go at building a new world while writing my young adult dystopian trilogy. 41aHr-pDYWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_(The first book, Incubation, is available now on Amazon.) It took a lot of thought and research, a lot of pulling at ideas to examine all the ramifications. My world is North America at the end of this century. A flu pandemic has killed off the birds and decimated the human population to the point that survival of the species is at risk. The United States and Canada have merged to form Amerada; there are fewer than three million people alive on the North American landmass. With the demise of the birds, insect populations exploded, and swarms of locusts created famine and made it impossible to grow food outside. (I had great fun thinking of ways that the government and scientists might have tried to get rid of the locusts once they grew resistant to pesticides: they engineered spiders with extra sticky silk, hoping they’d trap more locusts, they created bigger bats, etc.). That’s what I mean by “pulling at ideas.”

The government that rises to power in Amerada is called the Pragmatists, or Prags. They’re all about being practical, rebuilding the population by any means necessary. Wombs are in short supply, so women are pressed into surrogacy service. The nation can’t afford to feed people who can’t contribute to its rebuilding, so scientists manipulate DNA to implant embryos that will be scientists, doctors, engineers . . . people capable of rebuilding the society. Artists of all kinds are devalued, and people with disabilities are a drain on society, so . . .

I had to think through things like “What is the role of religion (if any) in this society?” “How does this society feel about homosexuals?” “Do they allow women in the military?” It was a grand and exciting undertaking to try and make this world as internally consistent as possible. I will definitely be doing this again.

What books have swept you away to new worlds (even if just “new to you” and not fantasy or sci fi)? Do you look back on any childhood books and think, “I grew up there?”

Here’s a quick blurb about Incubation:

Bio-chemistry whiz Everly Jax wants one thing: to know who her parents are. Raised with other repo kids in InKubator 9, she has pinned her hopes on Reunion Day, the annual event where sixteen-year-olds can meet or reunite with their parents. When her Reunion Day goes horribly awry, she and he pregnant friend Halla escape the Kube, accompanied by their friend Wyck who has his own reasons for leaving.

In a world where rebuilding the population is critical to national survival, the Pragmatist government licenses all human reproduction, and decides who can–and must–have babies. The trio face feral dog packs, swamp threats, locust swarms, bounty hunters looking for “breeders,” and more dangers as they race to Amerada’s capital to find Halla’s soldier boyfriend before the Prags can repo her baby and force the girls into surrogacy service.

An unexpected encounter with Bulrush, an Underground Railroad for women fleeing to Outposts with their unlicensed babies, puts them in greater peril than ever. Everly must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to learn her biological identity–and deal with the unanticipated consequences of her decisions.

Want a free PDF of Incubation in return for an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? Email me and I’ll send you one! ldisilverio at gmail dot com

DiSilvero_0097_RetA retired Air Force intelligence officer, Laura DiSilverio is the national bestselling author of 15 mystery and suspense novels (including the Swift Investigations series, the Readaholics Book Club series, and the Mall Cop series). Her standalone suspense novel, The Reckoning Stones, was a Library Journal Pick of the Month and is currently a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. A Past President of Sisters in Crime, she pens articles for Writer’s Digest, and teaches writing in various fora. She plots murders and parents teens in Colorado, trying to keep the two tasks separate.

19 Thoughts

  1. Love that! I find it interesting how writers come up with unique terminolgy for their world. One of my favorite series is the Dune series. I was so into the books that the bibliography at the end of the book was frustrating that it was not real. Now Frank Herbert’s son and Kevin J. Anderson are writing about the events in the bilbiography, back history of the events leading to the first book Dune by Frank Herbert I also love the Mallory series by Johanna Lindsey.

    Childhood….The Black Stallion and Flame series and Lad a Dog.

  2. Laura, this sounds great. It’s more than the story. The ideas I would want my children to struggle with are all there connected to, if not contained in, your story. I would have loved it as a YA reader and expect to as an adult.

  3. Thanks for visiting Laura! When I was a child there were a couple of series that took me to entirely engrossing places. The first was the complete Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read and re-read those books so often that they almost felt like my own memories instead of those belonging to another.

    The second was The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. One of my beloved sisters bought me a 25th anniversary copy of The Book of Three and it is one of my most treasured possessions. It sits in my office where I can see it and remember every day why stories are worth writing.

    1. Jessie–I’ve never heard of the Prydain series. I’ll have to look it up. I was never much into the Wilder books, but my youngest read them voraciously and, in fact, Little House on the Prairie feature prominently in Incubation. It’s the only item her parents left with her when they abandoned her at the InKubator. She cherishes it and tries to figure out why they gave her that specific book. She finds out at the end of Incineration, the second book . . .

  4. Incubation sounds amazing and I love the peek into your imagination! I think any good book takes me to a different world — that’s why I read. I read a lot of historical fiction as a kid because I was fascinated by the “olden days”.

  5. I am always amazed at the detail and thought that goes into creating a new world. I think if I tried it, it’s not little details that would trip me up. Thanks for a peak into how it is done.

  6. Incubation is an amazing book — I loved it and cannot wait for Book 2. I also read all the Chronicles of Prydian in 5th grade (thank you Mrs. Naylor!)– it’s a wonderful and awesome series that I really want to read again and again~

  7. Welcome, Laura! I read a lot of sci fi as a younger adult and particularly loved the worlds of the female authors like Ursula LeGuin and Madeline L’Engle. And later the world of Harry Potter with my younger son, of course. And now I hope to transport others into the world of an 1888 Massachusetts mill town much like Jessie (and me, of course) was transported to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s world.

  8. This sounds really interesting! I am astonished at the way creative people spread their wings and try new things!

    I loved the Madeline L’Engle books with Meg (A Wrinkle in Time, etc.), the Little House books, the Borrowers, Narnia, and many others when I was a kid. As an adult reading Harry Potter, I remembered how good those kids books could be- I also really loved the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins of Hunger Games fan. In fact, I probably liked Gregor more.

    Edith- I’ve never made it to Ursula LeGuin- added to the TBR- thanks!

    I just bought this for my Kindle app on my iPad- looking forward to a new read!

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