Today, please welcome Linda Poitevin to the blog! She is sharing her delicious world-building details. Frankly, I love Angel mythology and it’s been quite a while since I’ve read any…
The Devil Is In the Details
(Along With the Angels)
When Ash asked me to write about my world-building process, I wanted to provide a serious, thoughtful answer. And I tried. Really I did. Remember that as you read this, okay?
Because the truth is, most of my world-building was done at the behest of my agent (bless her heart!), who saw the germ of a good story and believed in it enough to keep handing it back to me with repeated requests for “more.” Readers, she told me, want to know details. They want to see Heaven and Hell. They want to know what your angels can do—or what they can’t do, and why.
All good, you might think (being readers and all), but the truth is? I had no freaking idea…about any of it!
So in keeping with how I tend to accomplish most of my projects (if you don’t believe me, read this post about my bookmark saga!), I set aside the book I had already written and dived into the research I should have done to begin with. Lo and behold, I discovered a whole host (no pun intended) of world-building possibilities: names, hierarchies, obscure stories…a veritable wealth of creative fodder. All went into my subconscious brewing pot, and I began to eke out details surrounding my Heaven and Hell, the angels and Fallen Ones who inhabited those realms, and what their impact would be on the mortals who encountered them.
Because I wanted the novels to feel as “real” as possible, I decided to keep as much of the familiar, well-established mythology surrounding angels as I could. Because that mythology is also inextricably entwined with one of the world’s major religions, however, I wanted to tread lightly. Significant mulling and tweaking ensued.
Revision by revision, layer by layer, I built a world around our own, taking the time to decide whether my version of God, a female One, would be omnipotent or not (that storyline is still playing out in the series), and setting rules about what the angels could and couldn’t do. (Turns out they can do pretty much anything and they’re impervious to mortal attack of any kind…so yeah, without at least some of them on our side, we’re screwed.) On the purely physical end of things, I gave each of the angel choirs, or hierarchies, different wings and its own color of robe. Heaven became a place of knowledge, history, and natural beauty; Hell…well, didn’t.
When it came to character-building (an essential part of world-building, in my opinion), I imbued the angel characters with human traits that make them more relatable…more “real” in their own right. By drawing the fantastical elements into our world (where mortal characters would react to them) and putting recognizable motivations and characteristics into my supernatural beings, I hoped to pull readers so deeply into the story that they truly believed in angels—even if just for a moment.
The One herself became a mother figure rather than a father one. To me, that made sense from a creation perspective and it allowed me to explore a whole other side of our relationship with a higher being. I also took the idea of humans being created in God’s image beyond the purely physical by asking the question: if we were created in God’s image and we’re this imperfect, what does that say about God? Making the One imperfect gave me the freedom to deepen her character and make her motivations more believable.
So there you have it: my rather backward approach to world-building for the Grigori Legacy—fully in line with my approach to most of life. I hope you have as much fun reading the series as I’m having writing it!
Meet Linda Poitevin
Linda Poitevin lives just outside Canada’s capital, Ottawa, with her husband, the youngest of three daughters, one very large husky/shepherd/Great Dane-cross dog, a cats, two rabbits, and a bearded dragon lizard. Turned down in her pursuit of a police career after a faulty height measurement, Linda vicariously lives out her dream of being a cop through her characters. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found in her garden in the summer, hugging the fireplace in the winter, or walking her dog along the river in any season.
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