A Whole New World
by Alexandra Rushe
Every writer is a world-builder, spinning tales that transport the reader to a different reality, no matter the genre. I write Southern-fried paranormal romance about demon hunters in the Deep South under the pen name Lexi George, and fantasy under the pen name Alexandra Rushe—two different genres that involve world-building.
So, how do I build my worlds?
Step one: the setting.
The demon hunter series is set in the fictional small town of Hannah, Alabama. I grew up in a small town, so the setting, the Southern cuisine, the pea soup humidity and blast furnace heat of the Deep South are organic with me. So is the Southern crazy—I love my family, but they are bonzo. The demon hunter series is paranormal, so I added a heaping dash of magic and supernatural critters. The demons in my books—djegrali, as it were—are amorphous wraiths that crave physical sensation. The djegrali have a nasty little habit of possessing unsuspecting humans and going for a joy ride. They party hard in their borrowed bodies until the hosts are spent, then move on to the next victim. Think dementor locusts. The natural result of their debauchery while in human form? A new species called demonoids, half human and half demon with supernatural abilities. The demonoids in Hannah live side-by-side with the unsuspecting “norms.” Little do the norms know, but Hannah is a mecca for the weird and wonderful.
The fantasy series I write is set in the alternate world of Tandara, a place where magic and monsters are real. Raine, the heroine in A Meddle of Wizards, is a sickly young woman who gets swept through a portal to this other world.
Here is the blurb:
Raine Stewart is convinced she’ll die young and alone in Alabama, the victim of a chronic, mysterious illness. Until a man in a shabby cloak steps out of her mirror and demands her help to defeat a bloodthirsty wizard.
Raine shrugs it off as a hallucination—just one more insult from her failing body—and orders her intruder to take a hike. But the handsome figment of her imagination won’t take no for an answer, and kidnaps her anyway, launching her into a world of utmost danger—and urgent purpose.
Ruled by unpredictable gods and unstable nations, Tandara is a land of shapeshifters and weather-workers, queens and legends. Ravenous monsters and greedy bounty hunters patrol unforgiving mountains. Riverboats pulled by sea-cattle trade down broad waterways. And creatures of nightmare stalk Raine herself, vicious in the pursuit of her blood.
But Raine isn’t helpless or alone. She’s part of a band as resourceful as it is odd: a mage-shy warrior, a tattered wizard, a tenderhearted giant, and a prickly troll sorceress. Her new friends swear she has powers of her own. If she can stay under their protection, she might just live long enough to
find out . . .
Step two: add characters.
The heroes in my paranormal books are the Dalvahni, immortal demon hunters. Handsome, relentless, and lethal, the Dalvahni are impervious to drugs, alcohol, and pesky human emotions—until they meet my heroines and fall in love. The Provider, an incorporeal super computer/translator/encyclopedia/travel agent/guide, aids them as they travel from world to world in pursuit of rogue demons. I decided the Dalvahni were too perfect, so I gave them a flaw: they discover, much to their chagrin, that they are susceptible to chocolate. Voila! They have an Achilles heel, which adds vulnerability to their character and comic relief. Imagine Thor, if you will, drunk on a Hershey bar. Bwahahaha!
In Meddle, magic permeates the world of Tandara. But, instead of wands, the wizards in Tandara channel magic through wizard stones. Unchanneled magic is dangerous and lethal, and Raine, a neophyte wizard, has a series of magical misadventures. Fortunately, she has a tutor, a wizard named Bree, to school her in the ways of magic, and a textbook called A Beginner’s Guide to Mastering the Glow: Incantate—Don’t Incinerate. The Beginner’s Guide is part how-to manual, part history, and contains cautionary tales of wizards who lacked a healthy respect for magic. Like Dorfus the Doomed, for example, who accidentally turned himself inside out.
Step three: keep a bible.
When writing any kind of series, it is imperative to keep your stuff straight, so I maintain an index of character names, places, and terms I make up—like djegrali, Dalvahni, and demonoid. I also make notes about the physical characteristics of my characters, and their quirks. (For instance, Mullet Woman, a secondary character in the demon hunter series, has a fondness for the exclamation “mother trucker” when she gets upset). When I first started writing, I put everything on note cards and kept them in a box. Now, I keep a running index in a separate Word document, though a spread-sheet is another option, and I know some writers are fond of sticky notes, Scrivener, and flow charts.
Do whatever works for you, and happy writing!
More About the Author
Alexandra Rushe was born in South Alabama, and grew up climbing trees, searching for sprites and fairies in the nearby woods, and dreaming of other worlds. The daughter of an English teacher and a small-town judge, Rushe developed a love of reading early on, and haunted the school and local libraries, devouring fairy tales, myths, and tales of adventure. In the seventh grade, she stumbled across a worn copy of The Hobbit, and was forever changed. She loves fantasy and paranormal, but only between the pages of a book—the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz give her the creeps, and she has never seen The Exorcist. In short, Rushe is a world-class chicken. Connect with her here: