Today I am so pleased to welcome our own Kris T. Bethke back to Joyfully Jay. Kris has come to chat with about paranormal books and world building for Paranormal Week. She has also brought along a donation to our big Paranormal Week giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
The World We Live In
World building is essential for any story. And I’ll be bluntly honest and say, for me, it’s key to enjoying a book. No matter what words lie in the pages, I need to be able to fully immerse myself within, and in order to do that, world building is paramount.
In a contemporary story, the world building is 90% there. All an author has to do is take the real world, and paint the reader a picture for how their characters see it. That’s not to say it’s an easy task—we’ve all read books where it’s been done poorly. All I mean by that is that a contemporary world is already set and the rules for how it works are pretty well known.
In a paranormal, however, it’s a completely different ball game. Sure, if it’s a contemporary paranormal, a lot of the world building is built in. But it’s all the extras that are so important. For whatever supernatural creatures inhabit the world, I need to know how things work. How does society function? Are the supes known to the regular population or not? What laws govern them, if any? How do powers work, and are there consequences when things go awry? All of this comes together to give me, as a reader, a full picture of the story. Without it, something vital is missing.
As an author, I’ve mostly written contemporary. Up until recently, I was a little too nervous to try my hand at paranormal stories. I’ve always loved them, and they have a special place in my heart. But I shied away from writing them because, well frankly, all the necessary world building was a bit daunting. I know what I need as a reader, and if I wrote it, I would need to include all those things for anyone who read my books. But I’ve had stories in my brain with a contemp/PNR plot, so I finally gave it a go.
In fact, I’m currently writing two paranormal series.
In the Requiem Inc. Series, there are people who have the capability to temporarily die, and while they are dead, they can direct their movements on the spirit plane, interact with other spirits, and help lead the stuck ones on. Of course, my ghostwalkers don’t stay dead, and when they come back to life, they need an anchor to care for them. While things are mostly physical, there is also a mental connection…and some people can even develop telepathy. I spent a long time figuring out how things worked in this world, what the consequences would be if things went sideways, and what the rules and regulations were. I spent countless hours talking it out, trying to solve problems that came up, so that my world would be believable. The second book in this series, Lost Souls Found, comes out on Tuesday April 17th.
The Practitioners Series is something else altogether. Magic is the big thing here, and it took me a long time to put this book out in the world. I wrote it more than two years ago, and futzed and tweaked and edited a lot since. This world, in particular, needed to have concrete rules and consequences. Magic isn’t a fix all, and it has limitations. Especially when, like my MC Julian Thomas, a practitioner decides to tie his magic into one particular discipline. My MCs work for DEMA—the Department of Extranormal and Magical Affairs—and everything is highly regulated and overseen. Beholden hits shelves today!
In both my paranormal worlds, I spent an extraordinary amount of time figuring out the why and the how, and then sticking to those rules. I have so much information on how these worlds work, not all of it made it into the books. But for me, all that info is necessary, because world building is so vital. Without it, the stories wouldn’t work. And my goal as an author is to write stories that work.
Tell me what you think. Does world building play a big role in how you enjoy your stories?
Julian Thomas made the unpopular decision to become Beholden and focus his magic only on scrying. Because of it, he’s the best at his job and the top scryer for the Department of Extranormal and Magical Affairs. Which why Investigations Agent Wes Caldwell goes right to Julian for help locating a missing person.
When Wes needs to use his magic to boost Julian’s, they find a magical resonance between them that quickly leads to more. Julian doesn’t want to move too fast, but Wes knows Julian is it for him. He’s fine with waiting, as long as Julian stays close as they work through it.
But then Julian falls ill, and it’s clear there’s a magical reason. Wes will stop at nothing to find out what’s plaguing Julian, and when they realize just how deep the plot goes, they have more questions than answers. Magic is increasing in the world, and no one can figure out why. Julian and Wes have found love, but will it be enough to get them through what’s to come?
Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long. An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project. Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time. A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures. She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head. She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.
Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-T-Bethke/100014524539852 or on Twitter https://twitter.com/kristbethke
Kris is participating in our huge Paranormal Week Giveaway. It closes Saturday, April 14th at 11:49 pm ET, so be sure to stop by and enter!