Wednesday 11 September 2013

Beth Fred on World Building

As part of the A Missing Peace Blog Tour Hosted by Itching for Books I talked Beth Fred into telling me all about how she built her fictional world around A Missing Peace. Check it out:

A turbulent, emotionally charged YA novel that breaks down barriers and challenges the status quo...
Angry, seventeen-year-old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, populated with spoiled army brats like Caleb Miller. 
Caleb has much to be angry about too, including Mirriam who turns him down flat in front of everyone. Eager for retribution, Caleb agrees to a dare that will see him take Mirriam to the prom and regain his pride. 
But their relationship soon moves beyond high school antics. Mirriam and Caleb are bound together by more than location, and as they are forced to work closely together on a school assignment, they start to uncover an explosive story that has the potential to ruin lives — and both of their futures. One single truth changes everything and strengthens their bond. 

When Mirriam's family discovers their relationship, they decide it's time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Caleb must convince Mirriam that he is in it for forever — or risk losing her for good.

About the Author
Meet Beth Fred! A full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. Beth likes her tea hot, her romance sweet, and her guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma'am, make promises they keep, and aren't afraid to profess their undying love. It's not breakfast if there aren't carbs (at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just a few of Beth's favorite things. Bet you can't guess where she's from.

Hi Vickie, thanks for having me here today to talk about world building. I like talking about world building because it was one of the few things I was good at from the beginning. (Plotting was not LOL). I think that one reason I started out good at world building is because I like to write about settings I’m familiar with. I don’t know if I’m one of those writers that think setting should be another character in your book, but I do think it’s important.
Here’s the thing. Setting is more than just place. It dictates culture which shapes characters. Even a character who is resistant to his/her culture is impacted by it. Without, they wouldn’t be rebelling against it. Setting dictates the clothes your characters are wearing, what they have for dinner, and a lot of their day to day life. Killeen, the army town A Missing Peace is set in, is somewhere I’ve been numerous times. I used to live in Austin. My little brother was stationed in Killeen. My husband and I went at least once a month. So writing a story there was very easy.
Writing a story about the son of a fallen soldier and a war refugee was also very familiar to me. My grandpa, brother, and cousins were all in the service and my husband is from an Eastern culture. I know culture clash. But I didn’t even know what language Mirriam would have spoken. I learned it would most likely be Iraqi Arabic, so I researched things like how to say Mom and Dad and what kind of food would an Iraqi girl like to eat. Still, I had a lot of personal connection to this story and I think that’s why it’s so strong.
There is an old saying, “write what you know,” and I’ve seen a lot of writers bash it saying they wouldn’t be able to write fantasy, or paranormal if they listened to this. But I think you have to modify what you know. You need a real personal connection to your story. You need to draw off of life experience, but don’t regurgitate it. Use research to fill in the gaps, invent a new world, paint it like a picture. But so much of who we are comes from our experiences don’t ever be afraid to use that. Your books can be shaped by your experiences without being autobiographical.


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