Monday, November 09, 2009

Guest - Victoria Janssen

Good morning everyone! Grab your coffee and cinnomon bun because we've got a great post on world building today from author Victoria Janssen.

Victoria Janssen's second novel, The Moonlight Mistress, is set during the early days of WWI and includes paranormal elements. It's due out December 2009 from Harlequin Spice, a trade paperback line of erotic novels. She's recently sold two more novels to Spice. Find out more at

She blogs on writing, reading, and genre here: and twitters here:


Multi-Purpose Worldbuilding
By Victoria Janssen

In The Moonlight Mistress, werewolves are an important element. However, the world they live in is much like our world; the werewolves exist as "secret history." Though several of the characters know about the existence of werewolves, and one finds out about them in the course of the novel, for the most part they exist out of sight.

The setting of the novel is World War One Europe, so the primary worldbuilding for the novel consists of historical detail. Also, it's an erotic novel, so sexual relationships are also very important. But I wanted the paranormal elements to be inextricable from the rest. If any one of the three elements was removed -- history, erotica, werewolves -- the story would collapse.

I've always been told that every detail of a story should be relevant in more than one aspect, and that's even more important in speculative fiction, where so many more details are required. For example, a particular song and its topic tell the reader something about the world as well as something about the character who's chosen that song to sing. If the character is singing too loudly, he might alert his enemies and thus propel the plot forward. I tried to use duplicate or triplicate relevance whenever the werewolves appeared in the story.

First, the werewolves served a plot purpose. The main romantic couple in the story meet because the hero is trying to gain information about a secret laboratory studying werewolves; later, when he shares this with the heroine, it demonstrates that a level of trust has been established between them. Her reaction shows how she's come to feel about him. When they take action together (deepening their relationship) to save the werewolves, again the werewolves are propelling the plot. At the same time, the personal relationship between two werewolves comments on the relationship between the main couple; both couples are thrown together because of the war, and both pairs discover they have something powerful in common.

One of the soldier characters is a werewolf. He has werewolf problems which draw in his human friends and have consequences for them. Each time he acts like a werewolf, the plot is moving, his character is being reinforced, and the reader is being reminded that they're reading a fantasy.

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have!


As World War One begins, English chemist Lucilla Osbourne finds herself trapped on German soil. She and a French scientist, Pascal Fournier, escape and share a brief, intense affair.

They are reunited as Pascal investigates rumors of werewolves and the rogue scientist who abducts and tortures them.

Meanwhile, a group of soldiers, including Lucilla's brother, deal with forbidden relationships, little knowing that one of their own is also a werewolf.

-- Lynda Again
Excellent article! WWI isn't a huge 'romantic' period in our genre so it's great to see the boundaries of our genre being stretched to include it. The era held heartbreak and courage for many. It shouldn't be neglected. And since we here in the USA are honoring our vets this Wednesday, this is the perfect time to say Thank You for your service to us and the country.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Victoria, that sounds like an exciting book! I'll have to order it.

Lynda, thanks for the reminder about Veterans Day. My dad served in Vietnam and he still doesn't talk about it much. So, yeah, our men and women in the Armed Forces sacrifice a lot for our freedom. They deserve our thanks!


Victoria Janssen said...

I hope you enjoy the book!