Guest Blogger A. M. Manay with “A Brief History of the Universe” #RRBC

I’m delighted to turn my blog over to Rave Reviews Book Club, sister author, A.M. Manay today. I invited her to guest blog after reading her spectacular novels SHE DIES AT THE END and SHE LIGHTS UP THE DARK, the first two books in the November Snow series (look for my five star reviews on Amazon).

Set in a riveting reality where vampires, faeries, werewolves and humans interact, this series easily rivals the Twilight and Shadowhunter sagas (and yes, I read those, too). I was so impressed with the world-building and character development A.M. created, I asked her to write a post about world-building for my blog. I hope you’ll make her feel welcome and take a look-see at her engrossing novels.


“A Brief History of the Universe” by A.M. Manay

One of the most enjoyable yet dangerous things about being a fantasy author is the opportunity to build a world.  It’s fun because you get to come up with strange creatures, an imaginary history, your own rules for how magic works, etc.  It’s dangerous for many of the same reasons.  There are a lot of places where you can easily write yourself into corners, or bore the reader, or contradict yourself.  So how did I create the world of November Snow, a world in which vampires, fairies, and werewolves wander among us?   And how did I communicate my vision to the reader?

Writing the first book, She Dies at the End, primarily based on November’s perspective allowed me to present the world as she saw it, as she was getting to know the new world into which she’d stumbled.  This is, of course, a commonly used and fairy effective tack to take.  November naturally asked a lot of questions during those initial chapters, and in addition, her psychic visions helped to fill in some information for the reader.  I tried to parcel things out a little at a time and avoid exposition dumps as much as possible.  You have to trust the reader to put pieces together over time.

Book covers for She Dies at the End, She Lights up the Dark and She Sees in Her Sleep by A. M. Manay

As far as the creatures are concerned, I knew I wanted to do vampires, because I’ve always thought they were sexy and interesting.  I knew I wanted some daytime help for the vampires, and the fairies filled that role.  I wanted the fairies and vampires to have their identities as predators in common, so my fairies feed via touch on the life force of human being.  My fairy and vampire allies needed a common enemy, which is where the werewolves came in.  I wanted to make them a genuine threat, so I came up with the notion that if a werewolf kills a fairy, it extends his own life.  But I also wanted them to be sympathetic, so I could explore issues of oppression.  So I included the werewolves’ self-perception of as the protectors of human beings.  Essentially, I made the characteristics of my supernatural creatures fill the needs of the story I wanted to tell.

As far as the aesthetics of the world are concerned, I tried to take a cinematic view: what would this look like if it were a movie?  What would enhance the story, and what would detract?  For example, I gave the fairies brightly colored hair and eyes to add some cheer and brightness and to distinguish them from the vampires.  And this may sound strange for a vampire novel, but I wanted to limit the blood and avoid piles of dead bodies lying around.  Thus, when my vampires die, they turn to ash.  When my fairies are injured, they bleed light rather than blood.  When the fairies die, they explode in a blinding flash, leaving nothing behind.  In this way, it doesn’t read like a nonstop horror show, and the really bloody violence on the part of Luka, the villain, has the appropriately disturbing impact it deserves.

For the setting, I made my work easier by using a reality we’re all familiar with, the contemporary United States.  I chose to use the San Francisco Bay Area, where I have lived for over 10 years, as much as possible.  It’s a diverse place with a lot of variety, and I didn’t see any need to complicate things by choosing a setting that would come across as awkward if I tried to fake familiarity.  When they do leave the East Bay, they’re mostly on contained sets rather than exploring their surroundings.

The history of the characters and their civilization developed in a pretty organic fashion.  I found that writing short stories about them helped me to flesh things out as far as their pasts and their motivations were concerned.  Even the stories I didn’t finish helped me give my characters some depth.  On a practical note, I did make lists and charts to help myself keep track of everyone, especially during the writing of the first book.  I included them in the second novel to give my fans a refresher.  All the names do have a disturbing tendency to run together!

What are your thoughts on world building?  Where have you seen it done well?  Where have you seen it done poorly?

Author A.M. Manay in a casual outdoor pose in front of a treeAuthor Bio:
A.M. Manay is the author of She Dies at the End (November Snow Book 1), She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2), and She Sees in Her Sleep: Three November Snow Shorts.  She is currently working on the third and final novel in the series.

Connect with A.M. Manay at the following haunts:
Twitter: @ammanay
Fan email list  November’s News

47 thoughts on “Guest Blogger A. M. Manay with “A Brief History of the Universe” #RRBC

  1. Interesting insight into how you created the world of your stories, Am. Though I don’t really like vampires your novels sound enticing with this mixture of fairies, vampires. Best of luck with finding new fans!

    Thank you, Mae, for bringing to our attention such lovely authors!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always enjoy learning how someone else creates a world. Although my vampire phase encompassed Bram Stoker, Hammer Films, and Dark Shadows, there are conventions all three honored that we accept as the “reality” of vampires. When any of those conventions were defied, it required an explanation that was consistent within the vampire myth. To me, world building that defies fantasy’s conventions without providing reasonable explanations is poorly done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the challenge of world-building. It’s one of my favorite phases of fantasy/paranormal writing. I agree, if you aren’t careful, you can totally screw up or bore the reader (which is why I always outline and keep a story bible, but that’s me; writers have to do what works for them). I didn’t notice your work listed in the RRBC catalog, but you can bet I’ll be looking for it now! Thanks for adding to my to-be-read list (yet again), Mae. Best wishes to you, A.M.!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can just imagine all the details you have to keep track of Staci with your Medici Protectorate Series. I love the paranormal elements you’ve woven into that one.

      And I’m glad I could introduce you to A.M.’s books and add to your TBR (yet again, LOL). It’s great to bring more RRBC authors together!


  4. This is so interesting. It always amazes me how fantasy authors are able to build new worlds. In the crime, thriller, mystery genre, we don’t need to worry about that. Actually, in many ways they’re polar opposites…crime needs to ring true; fantasy only needs to be possible. Best of luck with your books! Btw, I always found vampires sexy, too. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still think it’s important. Some mysteries might involve a shiny computer lab, others might involve Sam Spade in lots of shadows with ground fog. After a site appears, it needs to stay consistent. Even a bit of knowledge about planning and zoning can help. You don’t want the grimy industrial building right next door to the State Capitol.

      Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a great observation about the difference in genres, Sue. As for sexy vampires, I’m not usually easy smitten, but I thoroughly latched onto Ilyn in this series, LOL.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A pleasure to read how another author builds the worlds for their stories. I had to make notes just building a house for one story let alone a whole world. Good luck with your books they sound fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s nice to meet you AM and I love the covers for your books. I love vamps in all shapes and sizes. Though I love to read about them more than watch them, I still love to watch Twilight over and over again. LOL I love magical worlds and doling the details out in small doses helps me take in the world easier. Sounds like some books I would love to read. Thanks for sharing a new to me author, Mae. Have a great weekend ladies.
    sherry @ fundinmental


    • Wonderful to have you drop by, Sherry. And if you love vampires as much as you seem to, I think you’ll love these books. I’m a so-so reader when it comes to vamps, but these books immediately sucked me in. And I agree with you about the covers for the books. They’re absolutely stunning!


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