Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guest - Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Good morning all! Hope you're having a fine, bright day. Grab your favorite cup of morning brew, toast, croissant or bagel and take a moment to enjoy today's guest post. 

PS - Linda is offering a giveaway so make sure you read on to find the details!


Building a World within a World – with Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Hello Star-Crossed Romancers . . .

I'm Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, currently writing for the Nocturne paranormal imprint, here to wave, say hello, and connect with like-minded folks who read and write paranormal tales. What a club we are, eh?
Today's brief post is about one aspect of world building in a paranormal story. World building within this world. Our world. Showcasing what might either move among us, or in the shadows, on the fringes of our world.

I'm going to mention how I do this, and something about how my world within a world works.
When writing and creating paranormal stories, I prefer keeping to the ground I walk on. This is my "style." Familiar and recognizable surroundings is the goal. In all of my paranormal romances, from all three publishers, my characters walk this same earth with me, mostly in the present time. But of course, many of those characters in the recognizable world are tweaked.

The good creatures (non-mortals) might stroll the sidewalks, and I'd never know unless they wanted me to. The bad guys are much worse than anything imaginable in the news today, because again, they're here, among us, and they’re supernatural criminals.

In this way, using familiar surroundings, the world-building only has to happen in relation to the creatures/beings in the story, and how they relate/react in known surroundings. So, my main characters might be ER doctors (Wolf Trap), Cops (Red Wolf), District Attorneys (Blackout), or immortal Blood Knights evolved from the time of the Round Table (Golden Vampire & Guardian of the Night), but these main characters have to blend in with the mortal population somehow, keep their secrets from the rest of us, and make their unique twist on their genetics work here in the world their creator (me) lives and breathes in.

The most effective way to showcase this kind of world within a world is through conflict.

Here are just a few of those conflicts (there are always more than one in a good, suspenseful story, right?):

Familiar surroundings vs creatures/beings that may have to adapt.

Mortals vs other kinds of beings.

One supernatural species vs another.

Good vs evil.

Secrets vs exposure.

Relationships - where one person is mortal, and the other is not. Or one is a vampire and one a werewolf, etc.

A plot line that makes it both tough and dangerous for Otherworldy secrets to be withheld in our world, with a leak of those secrets to one or more people, due to an event at the center of the plot.

      Discrepancies in cast status within a species.

I think you'll agree that there is nothing better (juicier) than several of these conflicts, or all of them, in one story. The trick is to integrate them in a seamless way that draws us all in from the opening paragraph and keeps us hanging on to the end.

The possibilities are endless.

In my first novella for Nocturne, "Blackout," I use Miami as my familiar surroundings, with its heat, sounds and smells. Okay. You get this picture already. No more has to be said.

On top of that, I add the supernatural. A deputy district attorney on his way home from a club, hurrying on a dark side street and noting the full moon overhead. The full moon is another layer of conflict because Dylan Landau, already late in ditching the public, is going to change shape before he makes it back to his apartment.

He has to be alone, of course, to do the shape-shift, since most of Miami is mortal, and has no idea there are actually, in reality, Lycans. So, I add a police car heading his way on that narrow side street = big trouble.
Then I make the cop car veer off and hit the curb. (What?) And a female cop falls out of the car, tearing at her clothes and looking sick. Next conflict: how can Dylan help? He's a good guy, but if he steps into the light, he'll change shape. A cop would see him in his werewolf form.

Worse yet, if he manages to rescue this female cop and get her into the shadows, where he is safe from the moon, she might, after seeing his monstrous shape, then recognize him in his mortal shape, from possibly seeing him in court.

Okay. Are those images clear? Do you see how the conflict can be ongoing? That's part of chapter one… and I pile up more and more conflict in this story until it's over. A swift ride, a sneak peek, into the paranormal world within this world.

My new full Nocturne, "Guardian of the Night," comes out May 22nd. This time it's an immortal Blood Knight from the Round Table days, discovered in the current century, in a forest in France, by an American woman searching for her missing sister. Can you already note the conflicts that might arise in this story from just that small bit of information? Can you see that forest in France? Yes!

If you're a writer, or a reader, you have probably noted conflict as being necessary to any genre. In the paranormal world, it's truly crucial. Hopefully, just this little bit of an explanation of how I use it might help to reinforce how it can work. I sure hope so. It has worked for me!

*Do you have anything to add?

*Do you have a favorite book that uses conflict to world-build?

*Have you read my work? (*blush on*)

If you have questions, or just want to wave, please do. I'm here today to connect with you, and hopefully make some new friends.

You can also find me, and what I'm doing on my web site:

Cheers for now-

*** oh, and one luck commenter will receive a download of my *lighter* side books. Do you feel lucky today?


"Guardian of the Night" by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Harlequin Nocturne – May 22, 2012

The Guardian. An immortal with incredible strength, created centuries ago to protect the purity of the vampire bloodline and fight those who would abuse its power.

As one of the seven Blood Knights, Mason LanVal spent lifetimes honoring his vows without wavering. That all changed the night he found Faith.

Faith James will do anything to save her missing sister. Even if it means risking her own life. She sought Mason for help. Instead she found more questions, and the key to unlocking her own latent powers. Her pull on Mason is twice damned. Yet he can't tear himself away.

With just one kiss, the blood gift Mason gives Faith sets in motion an all-consuming desire that is forbidden to indulge, but impossible to ignore....

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom is an award-winning author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy for Kensington, Dorchester, and Harlequin's Nocturne imprint. She's a teacher by day, a writer by night, and swears she has "paranormal" in her genes.

Books by Nocturne: Blackout, Wolf Bait, Red Wolf, Wolf Trap, Moon Marked, Vampire Lover, Night Born, Golden Vampire, Guardian of the Night. Upcoming: Holiday with a Vampire (November 2012), Immortal Obsession (2013), Ghost Wulf (2013)

Linda's light paranormal side: Barbie and the Beast, Veronica and the Vampire.

-- Lynda Again,
   What a great post! Remember, Linda has a giveaway for you so make sure you leave a comment.

Have a Blessed Day!


Alexis Morgan said...

I love conflict in paranormal stories that centers around the hero having to risk revealing his darkest secrets and then trusting the heroine to safeguard not just those secrets but his heart. At what cost does he reveal who/what he is? And is he risking not just himself but those he is sworn to protect. And of course, she has to come to terms with a whole new world view. It's all good! Great post--

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom said...

Yes. Alexis. That's it, exactly. Cost IS conflict. And having the heroine in charge of that provides a juicy dose of tension and romance.
Thanks for the wave.

bn100 said...

Very nice post. I like the mix of characters you write about.


Linda Thomas-Sundstrom said...

Thanks, bn!

E Edgerton said...

have not read your books - but I really enjoyed this blogpost as I'm exploring the paranormal genre more.