Guides to Fictional Worlds

One of the (many) things I’ve been working on this summer is compiling all the various details about my fictional worlds into comprehensive guides. This includes lists of characters and details about those characters, family trees and family relationships, relevant dates and events for those characters, as well as known information about the world itself and a glossary of terms.

Serpent's Kiss, a paranormal romance and Dragonfire #10 by Deborah CookeThe first of these that I began to compile was for Dragonfire. In addition to the above, that world guide includes the lore of the Pyr and their history, as well as an explanation of their powers. Since I began compiling the world guide when I was writing Firestorm Forever, it’s proving to be a bit of a slog. There’s a lot of back-and-forthing in the books and my notes to be done, and so I have an assistant helping me on this project. It still won’t be done for a while. Because many readers have asked about it, there will be a published Dragonfire companion volume, which will be released as part of the publication schedule of the new editions of the first eight books.  My assistant is also writing synopses of all of the stories and I’m adding some additional notes about the creation of Dragonfire. It’s going to be a big fat book and I’m excited about it.

Wyvern's Mate, book #1 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeIn contrast, the world guide for the Dragons of Incendium is evolving as the stories are written. My idea here was that I’d be more organized and avoid all this digging through the past by working in real-time. This world guide is on the Dragons of Incendium website under the tab “Guides” and it’s updated after the publication of every new book in the series. You’ll find a cast of characters and a glossary there, as well as some additional references like a Brief History of Incendium. The inclusion of these references is one of the reasons that these dragons have their own website.

On the historical side, I haven’t been nearly as organized. I have family trees compiled and available for free download in my online store—and I update those as various members of each family marry. There’s also a cast of characters for Kinfairlie that was compiled around the time I wrote The Renegade’s Heart, but beyond that, we’re talking file folders and piles of notes. I’m realizing how inefficient this is as I retrace everything I’ve said about Ross.

The Princess, book #1 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixIn preparing the new editions of the Bride Quest books, I had a question and unearthed my old notes—I found a map of Tullymullagh that I’d drawn! That got me to thinking about connecting my historical worlds and I wrote a blog post about that in June. The thing is that to make the worlds intersect plausibly, I need to compile world guides for my own reference.

Which explains where I am right now. I have a Dragonfire companion volume in the works. I have a Dragons of Incendium world guide on the website. I am currently creating a Bride Quest world guide and a Ravensmuir/Kinfairlie/Inverfyre world guide for my own reference. And that brings me to the question of the day—what should I do with all these world guides when they’re done?

There’s a poll below about world guides and companion volumes. I’d love if you took a moment to share your thoughts. I’ll leave it open for quite a while, since these references will take some time yet to be completed.

Don’t worry – The Dragonfire companion volume will definitely be published. The cover is done! It’s the others that I’m wondering about.

Here’s a poll about whether or not you use these volumes – and whether or not you buy them:

 

Here’s a poll about which series of mine for which you’d like to have a world guide:

 

And finally, here’s a poll about what you expect to find inside a world guide, just to make sure I don’t miss anything! There’s room for you to add suggestions.

When Worlds Collide

The Princess, book #1 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixI’m in the midst of an intriguing exercise. Maybe you’ll find it interesting, too.

When I wrote for traditional publishers, they each wanted their own series. They didn’t want to market a series of books that was connected to a series published by another publisher. So, each time I changed publishing houses, I created a new fictional world.

For example, my Bride Quest series at Dell was set in a 12th century medieval world, with fictional estates at Tullymullagh (Ireland), Llanvelyn (Wales), and Montvieux (France). The characters moved between these locations, which were based on (or inspired by) real places. I have maps in my files of the castle layouts and interiors, as well as their locations.

The Countess, book #4 of the Bride Quest series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixIn the Bride Quest II series, I added Ceinn-beithe (Scotland), Airdfinnan (Scotland), and Crevy-sur-Seine (France) as well as the convent at Inveresbeinn (Scotland). While the Bride Quest I featured three brothers, the Bride Quest II featured a widow and her two daughters.

The obvious progression from this point would have been the Bride Quest III, featuring the sons from the first series and maybe the new daughter from the second series. I actually wrote that proposal, but I moved to Warner and they wanted a new fictional world of their own so it went into the files.

The Rogue, book #1 of the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixWarner published the Rogues of Ravensmuir. I created Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie for The Rogue, then Inverfyre for The Scoundrel and The Warrior. This world is set in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Gawain added a house in Sicily to the fictional realm, too. We had three keeps and a southern house by the time the trilogy was done.

The Beauty Bride, first book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixNext and still with Warner, I moved down a generation and wrote the Jewels of Kinfairlie series in the same world. While Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie are on the east of Scotland, south of the Firth, there were other realms added beyond that area. We visited Rhys’ holding of Caerwyn (Wales) in The Beauty Bride, Erik’s holding of Blackleith to the north (Scotland) in The Rose Red Bride, the site of Eleanor’s previous marriage, Tivotdale (Scotland) in The Snow White Bride, as well as Rosamunde’s pirate ship.

The Renegade's Heart, book #1 of the True Love Brides Series of Scottish medieval romances, by Claire DelacroixThe True Love Brides continues in this same world and adds other holdings to the world of Kinfarlie and Ravensmuir—these include Seton Hall, which is near the Trossachs in Scotland, where Murdoch was born, the monastery of Kilgarrow (Scotland) where Murdoch’s brother chooses to retire, also in The Renegade’s Heart, and Killairig (Scotland), the stolen legacy of Garrett in The Highlander’s Curse, as well as Rafael’s unnamed possessions in Spain at the end of The Warrior’s Prize.

The Brides of Inverfyre series will be set more in the Highlands and Islands, so there will be additions to the world in that area. Inverfyre has kind of a spooky history, which I’m looking forward to revisiting.

The Crusader's Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixFor the Champions of St. Euphemia, I stepped away from the world of Kinfairlie, Ravensmuir and Inverfyre to create another 12th-century fictional universe. The holdings in this world are Châmont-sur-Maine (France), Valeroy (France) both in The Crusader’s Bride, Altesburg (Germany) in The Crusader’s Heart, Haynesdale (England) in The Crusader’s Kiss, Killairic (Scotland) in The Crusader’s Vow and Morcreig (Scotland) in The Crusader’s Handfast, as well as the abbey to which  Gaston’s mother Eudaline retired in France.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, a Regency romance novella by Claire Delacroix and #1 of the Brides of North BarrowsSo, I have three medieval worlds which exist independently of each other. I also have the beginning of another world with Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is set in Regency England in 1811 and is the first of the Brides of North Barrows trilogy of Regency romances. Castle Keyvnor in Cornwall is in that world, as is North Barrows and Brisbane’s Emporium in London.

Right now, I’m working on the second novella in the Brides of North Barrows trilogy (which will be included in the anthology Charmed at Christmas, part of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor collection) and I needed the hero to be from somewhere. I also am in the midst of editing the files for the Bride Quest for republication. That’s when I realized it was time to connect these worlds and make them a single fictional universe. Alexander, the hero of my upcoming Regency romance in the Brides of North Barrows series is from Airdfinnan, the holding regained by Angus in The Beauty. Ha. Things will have changed a bit in seven hundred years, but I like the idea of continuity.

This exercise also raises new questions. Are Killairic and Killairig connected? They have a similar location on the west coast of Scotland and it’s plausible that the name might have changed slightly in several hundred years. If so, how do their stories connect? Does the prize of St. Euphemia remain hidden forever at Morcreig? Or will a  character in a later era discover it? How and why? What about those abandoned proposals for the “next obvious books” in any given series? I’m digging them out again. Will my earlier books be the source of legends and stories told in my later books? I remember now that I had originally planned to tell the story of the maiden who disappeared through the window at Kinfairlie into the realm of the Fae. My publisher didn’t like the idea but I still do.

Mr. Math has ordered me some maps to mount on the wall of my office so I can locate the holdings and consider ways to connect them. My imagination is exploding a little bit right now, as there are so many options and possibilities. Family trees are going to get bigger. It also means that I’ll probably need another companion volume and guide to my medieval books. I have a number of map-creation sites bookmarked on my browser and might need to create my own medieval map, as well as share layouts of keeps and towns. Hmm. This means there’s a lot more to add to the calendar, but it’s so much fun!