A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl

Returning to The Domes! (And to Podcasting!): Creating New Stories in Old Worlds

December 08, 2020 Megan O'Russell Season 1 Episode 52
A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Returning to The Domes! (And to Podcasting!): Creating New Stories in Old Worlds
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A Book and A Dream: An author’s adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl
Returning to The Domes! (And to Podcasting!): Creating New Stories in Old Worlds
Dec 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 52
Megan O'Russell

Ever wonder what it's like to write a new story in a well-established world? Whether you're an author considering a similar course, or a reader who loves delving into the details of your favorite worlds, you won't want to miss today's episode of A Book and A Dream.

Spoiler: Hope you like cats. There may or may not be a special guest appearance...

As mentioned in the podcast, Heart of Smoke is now available for preorder.

And Girl of Glass can be found at your favorite online retailer by clicking here!

Show Notes Transcript

Ever wonder what it's like to write a new story in a well-established world? Whether you're an author considering a similar course, or a reader who loves delving into the details of your favorite worlds, you won't want to miss today's episode of A Book and A Dream.

Spoiler: Hope you like cats. There may or may not be a special guest appearance...

As mentioned in the podcast, Heart of Smoke is now available for preorder.

And Girl of Glass can be found at your favorite online retailer by clicking here!

Megan: [00:00:02] How does the government...

 

Mo the Cat: [00:00:03] *Mewing and Meowing*

 

Megan: [00:00:10] Should I take it from the beginning of that?

 

Announcement: [00:00:16] Welcome to A Book and A Dream with Megan O'Russell: an author's adventure in writing, reading, and being an epic fangirl.

 

Megan: [00:00:27] Hello, my name is Megan O'Russell and welcome to episode fifty-two of A Book and A Dream. For those of you who are super observant, you might have noticed that there was no recording released last week.

 

Megan: [00:00:40] I could lie and say I was really busy with edits for my agent for something he wants to submit and also proofing the audiobook for The Dragon Unbound, which is now available on all non-Amazon/Audible retailers. Or that I'm working on a new project, and all of those things would actually, technically be true.

 

Megan: [00:00:59] But the honest truth as to why there was no recording out last week is because I had bronchitis that turned into a 10-day long asthma attack because there had to be COVID tests. And I'm fine now. But honestly, it got to the time when I should record a podcast and video for last week. And my husband was like, are you going to do that?

 

Megan: [00:01:16] And I was like, no.

 

Megan: [00:01:19] No, I'm actually not, because sometimes self-care looks like saying no, and I try to be honest with you all, and it would be really wrong of me to be like, "and I was really fancy and important." No, I wasn't. No, I wasn't. I was refusing to put on real clothes because I didn't feel good. And honestly, even today, I almost recorded this lying on the floor. In fact, if we had been able to figure out how to place a mic in such a way that wouldn't have risked chipping my teeth if it fell, I would have. I would have just laid on the floor to record this. But I didn't want to risk chipping my teeth, so here I am.

 

Megan: [00:01:55] And the truth is, I have been super busy and very productive. And it's 2020, and if you are still breathing, you're doing a great job. Like, to anyone out there who's like, "I'm a failure. I accomplished nothing in 2020." No, if you're surviving, that's like every other year's equivalent of thriving. Like that's, that's the bar, that's the standard right now. But I have gotten some things done, a lot of things done. Many muchin things have been done. I've been working on the first book in a new series, the series currently called Heart of Smoke, and I ended up changing the series title. But the first book is definitely called Heart of Smoke. It's actually already available for preorder on most major retailers. Kobo won't let me do that sort of thing. But it's there.

 

Megan: [00:02:39] And I'm really excited about this new series because it is very challenging and it takes place in the world of Girl of Glass. And I know, like most authors, you like write one book in the world and then you move on.

 

Megan: [00:02:53] But I don't want to do that. I'm also terrified of becoming like the Family Guy version of that Star Wars band where they're like "Play that same song again. Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo." But I don't want to do that.

 

Megan: [00:03:05] I don't want my readers to be like, "And you're writing another book in the same world. Good for you." And the whole point of building the world of Ilbrea was to create a lot of different series that fleshed out this whole massive world. So it's this huge thing. By the end, when I wrote Girl of Glass, I was not intending on ever writing another series in the same world.

 

Megan: [00:03:26] I created that series because I specifically wanted to look at a dystopian environment from the point of view of the upper one percent who has been chosen to survive. And that's great. And I love the Girl of Glass series. I'm very proud of it.

 

Megan: [00:03:39] But it got to the point where I really wanted to explore another point of view in that world. It may be the actor in me. When you're an ensemble member, you see everything from, like, six points of view per show. So I can see like, "oh, hey, you're a good guy in this scene and oh, hey, I'm going to murder you in the scene." You know, it's...you want to explore things from different angles because that's what I've done for my entire adult acting career. So that's how it feels normal to me. And sometimes it doesn't feel worth it.

 

Megan: [00:04:12] I'm like, I don't need to do this. Like in my head, it's cool, but not worth writing a whole book about.

 

Megan: [00:04:18] But with Girl of Class, it seemed like it was worth it because it is a big world. And there is so much to explore and we haven't really seen the apocalypse happening from the point of view of someone who's hungry. Who is thirsty, who is dying because, you know, lots of people are trying to stab them because, you know, evil men try to kill people, it's just like a thing.

 

Megan: [00:04:45] So I decided that I really wanted to write another series in the world of Girl of Glass, which is where Heart of Smoke comes into play. And it does not interfere with the Girl of Glass series. There are many different sets of domes within that world. It was established that they existed early on in the Girl of Glass series before I ever really thought I'd write another set of books in that world. But it's...it's separate. It's not going to mess with the Girl of Glass canon. I've been very careful about that, but I wanted to see the end of the world from a different part of the world. And that is where one story comes into play.

 

Megan: [00:05:21] Now, there are some really great things about going back into a world that you already know so well because the world is built, and when you're writing a new series, a lot of the time that comes into writing that book one is just building the rules of the world.

 

Megan: [00:05:39] It's is there a government?

 

Megan: [00:05:42] How does the government...

 

Mo the Cat: [00:05:43] *Mewing and Meowing*

 

Megan: [00:05:50] Should I take it from the beginning of that?

 

Megan: [00:05:54] Let's try that again. One of the really great things about revisiting a place that you've already been in a book is that the world is already there.

 

Megan: [00:06:02] The world has been built. A lot of the time that goes into writing a book, one when it's not like a contemporary fantasy where, you know, we know how the government here works and then you kinda twist it a little.

 

Megan: [00:06:14] But if it's in a...a different world, then building the rules of that world. So how does the government work? Like how do they enforce their laws? What weapons do they have to enforce their laws? How does their class system work? All of those things take a lot of time. So when you're revisiting worlds, all of that work is really done for you. All of that governmental, structural building is there. The other nice thing is that you already have some readers in place. There are people who already read Girl of Glass who have been actively asking me for another series. So there is sort of that comforting nature of, oh, I'm writing a book with a built in audience. That's a great idea I've had. 

 

Megan: [00:06:59] There are some...drawbacks to writing another book in the same world that you've already finished a series in. One of the biggest problems is to not screw with the canon of what you've already done. You can't be like, "oh, and the people in the old series didn't know that the people in the new series had already killed all the bad guys. And there was really no problem the whole time." Like, well, I mean, you could. You could do that. It would kind of suck for you to do it, but you could. So really you have to be very careful about not messing with the things you've already done.

 

Megan: [00:07:39] You also have to be very careful about introducing information. So the Heart of Smoke series is different from the Girl of Glass series. You should not have had to read Girl of Glass to read Heart of Smoke. Cool. In concept, that's very easy. It's...it's easy to be like, oh yeah, two different things. However, introducing information has to happen in a very specific way. So if you'd never read the Girl of Glass series, which for those of you haven't, it takes place...well, it starts in a set of domes, which think like biodome, greenhouses. That's where they live. They're built as like an ark to protect people at the end of the world. So people who have read the Girl of Glass series, if I was like, yeah, the people who live behind glass in Heart of Smoke would be like, "Oh, she means the domers."

 

Megan: [00:08:31] But if I just say the people who live behind glass in Heart of Smoke, they're going to be like, wait a second, there are terrariums? No, no, it's like an isolation ward. Wait a second. Those people have really big windows in their houses? Hmm.

 

Megan: [00:08:46] It's not going to be clear, but I also can't be like, "oh, and here's how this entire system works to make sure you are entirely caught up in one scene. So here is these five pages for the sixth time about the rules of Quidditch."

 

Megan: [00:09:04] Yeah, nobody wants to read that, so you have to pepper things in, and it's really hard to make sure that you're getting all of the information that people need to the people as they need it. It is a very tricky thing that will make you go, "...I may, in fact, record this podcast from the floor today."

 

Megan: [00:09:23] And while you're maintaining the framework of the world and making sure that the new readers actually understand the world, you have to figure out how to fit a new story into that existing framework. So we know how the government works. We know how the bad guys can be defeated. We know how the good guys all end up dead. We know how this goes. So how do you write a new story that fits into that frame? How can you paint a completely different picture with a cat chewing on your microphone as you record...that is going to be interesting to readers? Because you can't just be like, "OK, well, in this world, I know that these things will kill the bad guys. So we're going to have somebody do this thing again."

 

Megan: [00:10:11] Well, yes, we've proven that if you do this thing, these people die. We know that. But you have to come up with a new concept that fits within the world you have built. It has to fit on the map, in the frame, in sort of the box. I mean, I hate boxes. Nobody wants to write inside the box, but you know what I mean. It has to fit the packaging that the world will allow. But at the same time, it also has to be worthy of your readers' time.

 

Megan: [00:10:39] You don't want to rehash the same story. You don't want it to be the same old thing but I gave them different names and hair colors so that I can sell another book. No, it has to be a different story. It has to create a different experience that is worth your readers' investment of their time and money.

 

Megan: [00:10:55] And so that can be really difficult because when you've built things so that there is a battle and the only way to end the battle is this, and these are the sacrifices we must make. Well, you can't use that again. If you use that again, why why would people want to read that same book? It's the same book.

 

Megan: [00:11:15] So it takes a lot of work to build a new plot line that will allow new loopholes for your characters to exploit so that they can be triumphant or at least die in a hopefully meaningful way. And a final lesson out there that's really only applicable to authors, for readers who are just trying to like, look at their authors, their favorite author's series and be like, "wait a second, you've used this trope in every book." I'm really sorry if I've ruined anything for you. I'm really sorry, because there are some people who will reuse the same world and the same trope. And once you know it's the same world and the same trope, you know who's going to end up married and who's going to end up dead within the first 10 pages.

 

Megan: [00:12:00] But, you know, sometimes we need comfort, so that's totally legit.

 

Megan: [00:12:04] And if that's that author's brand, go with it. That's not how I do things. 

 

Megan: [00:12:07] But something that is only specifically for the authors: if you have a series and you're writing a new series and you pick out the perfect way to title your series, you check through Amazon, you make sure no one has those titles, you check through Goodreads, you make sure no one has the titles, you check all the Amazon or all the Google CEO and you make sure that it is going to fit well and work. And it's on Brand. Post all the preorders right away.

 

Megan: [00:12:36] Because if you don't, you're going to get halfway through the process of working for...with your cover designer on book one and realize that someone's posted a preorder for another series with your title for book two.

 

Megan: [00:12:49] So you have to go back and rename everything. Which is another reason you want to record a podcast from the floor. So just, you know, like snag that right away, just grab it, grab that title before anyone else can get it, because they named their series that, too, so you really can't use it because that would be a bad, mean thing to do to a new author who doesn't have very many reviews. And you'd screw them over by doing it. And you're a good person.

 

Megan: [00:13:20] You are. You're a good person, and you're not going to do that to them, so, yeah, that's really where I am right now. Halfway to the floor. Most of a book written, some edits for my agent, some more audiobooks, lots of exciting things to come.

 

Megan: [00:13:38] And some, uh, wiggling in a pre-built world to create a new and magnificent story for you all so that you can enjoy Lanni's journey through the world of the domes with an entirely different take on the world and the Incorporation and the domes and how the vampires in her world work and all of those different things so that it is a new escape for all of you when we all need something new and fantastical to distract us this year.

 

Megan: [00:14:09] So thank you for sticking with me when I did not record last week. I will be back next week, barring disaster.

 

Megan: [00:14:17] Yeah, I'm going to be back next week with another video for you or podcast, whichever way you are absorbing this content. And yes, stay safe. If you have a moment to read a good book, take it. Take a breath. This time of year is stressful for everyone in the best of years. And love yourself. Be kind.

 

Megan: [00:14:37] And if what you need to do is lay on the floor and just not for a while, go with it, because if you're surviving, you are thriving.

 

Megan: [00:14:47] Happy 2020, y'all.