Worldbuilding for Masochists

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May 12, 2021  

Episode 50: Playing in Somebody Else’s Sandbox, ft. DELILAH DAWSON, TINI HOWARD, DAVID MACK, and MIKE CHEN

For our fiftieth episode, we welcome an all-star panel of guests who write in major franchises! Delilah Dawson, Tini Howard, David Mack, and Mike Chen tell us what it's like to write for Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel comics, and other IP worlds, from having seventeen editors to bringing their own perspectives and values to established universes.

Transcript for Episode 50 (with special kudos to our scribes for taking on the challenge of differentiating seven different voices!)

 

Our Guests: 

Delilah Dawson: Delilah S. Dawson is the New York Times bestselling writer of Star Wars: PHASMA, plus Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire, The Secrets of Long Snoot, The Perfect Weapon, and Scorched; the Blud series, Servants of the Storm, the HIT series, Wake of Vultures and the Shadow series (as Lila Bowen), and a variety of short stories in anthologies such as Death & Honey, Robots vs. Fairies, Hellboy: an Assortment of Horrors, Violent Ends, Carniepunk, Three Slices, and Last Night a Superhero Saved My Life. With Kevin Hearne, she is the co-writer of the Tales of Pell series.

Her next projects are MINE, a middle grade horror novel with Delacorte in Fall 2021 and THE VIOLENCE, a generational trauma tale set during a pandemic of random outbreaks of violence, out with Del Rey in 2022.

Her comics credits include the creator-owned Ladycastle #1-4, Sparrowhawk #1-5, Star Pig #1-4, Firefly: The Sting, The X-Files Case Files: Florida Man #1-2, Adventure Time comics #66-69, Rick and Morty Presents: Pickle Rick, and Jim Henson's Labyrinth 2017 Special from BOOM! Studios, as well as stories in Star Wars Adventures #5, #6, #18, #25, and Star Wars: Forces of Destiny: Rose and Paige for IDW. Her most recent comics project is WELLINGTON, written with Aaron Mahnke of the Lore podcast.

Delilah is the winner of the 2015 Fantasy Book of the Year from RT Book Reviews for WAKE OF VULTURES and the 2013 Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for WICKED AS SHE WANTS. Her work has earned multiple stars from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal.

She lives in Florida with her family.

 

Tini Howard: Tini Howard is an American writer of comic books, essays, and at least one upcoming novel. Since 2018, she has been writing comics exclusively for Marvel, including Thanos: Zero Sanctuary, Strikeforce, and Excalibur from the best-selling Dawn of X. 

Tini's other graphic novel work spans several beloved properties, including Rick and Morty, GLOW, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. She has produced two graphic novels with IDW's Black Crown imprint — the critically-acclaimed Euthanauts with Nick Roblesand Assassinistas with Eisner Hall of Fame-inductee Gilbert Hernandez. She broke into comics in 2014 as a winner of the Top Cow Talent Hunt, which saw the publication of her first comic, Magdalena: Seventh Sacrament. 

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Blake, and their two sons Orlando and General Hugs, who are cats. 

 

David Mack: David Mack is the award-winning and The New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-six novels and numerous short works of science-fiction, fantasy, and adventure, including the Star Trek Destiny and Cold Equations trilogies.

Mack’s writing credits span television (for episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), film, and comic books. His latest novels are The Shadow Commission, the final volume of his Dark Arts trilogy published by Tor books; and his long-postponed Star Trek novel More Beautiful Than Death.

His newest projects include the short story “Fiasco” in the pulp-homage anthology Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021, and a new novel, Star Trek: Coda, Book III: Oblivion’s Gate, coming November 30, 2021.

He currently works as a consultant on the upcoming animated television series Star Trek: Prodigy.

Mack resides in New York City with his wife, Kara.

 

Mike Chen: Mike Chen is the author of We Could Be Heroes, Here And Now And Then (a finalist for Goodreads Choice - Best Sci-Fi, CALIBA Golden Poppy, and the Compton Crook Award) and A Beginning At The End ("a brilliant, fragile path through the darkness" -- Library Journal). His short fiction is featured in Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View -- The Empire Strikes Back, and he has covered geek culture for sites such as Tor.com, The Mary Sue, and StarTrek.com. In a previous life, he covered the NHL for Fox Sports, SB Nation, and other outlets. A member of SFWA, Mike lives in the Bay Area with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals.

April 28, 2021  

Episode 49: An Immodest Proposal

Picture it: It's a sweltering summer day, ninety degrees in the shade, heat mirages glimmering on the horizon. Can your characters strip down to their skivvies? Roll up their sleeves? Hike up their skirts? Or might they be shamed for so much as unbuttoning their collar? What cultural factors of religion, economy, gender, and sexuality play into that decision?

In this episode, we discuss conventions of modesty, nudity, bragging, virtue-signalling, and other details of culture that you can use when building a multi-faceted and nuanced fantasy world! We also take a few moments to (immodestly) discuss our new status as Hugo Finalists for Best Fancast and to introduce ourselves to new listeners!

Transcript for Episode 49, with thanks as ever to our wonderful scribes!

April 14, 2021  

Episode 48: That Belongs in a Museum, ft. MARINA LOSTETTER

If your character finds an ancient mask half-buried in a field, is that just a cool remnant of an older culture, or are they about to unleash a demonic apocalypse? This week, Marina Lostetter joins us to talk about artefacts, archaeology, and the interpretation of material culture over time!

Some of the ancient artefacts in your world might be plot-driving vessels of magic, wonder, or absolute chaos, but the everyday objects that get preserved and protected --or not! -- can communicate a lot of information about your world's history, values, and cultural shifts.

Transcript for Episode 48 (with, as ever, great thanks to our scribes!)

Our Guest: The open skies and dense forests of the Pacific Northwest are ideal for growing speculative fiction authors–or, at least, Marina would like to think so. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in Arkansas with her spouse, Alex. In her spare time she enjoys globetrotting, board games, and all things art-related. Her original short fiction has appeared in venues such as LightspeedUncanny, and Shimmer Magazine.  Her debut novel, NOUMENON, and its sequels, NOUMENON INFINITY and NOUMENON ULTRA, are available from Harper Voyager.  Her first fantasy novel, THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, is forthcoming from Tor. In addition, she has written tie-in materials for Star Citizen and the Aliens franchise. She is represented by DongWon Song of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, and she tweets as @MarinaLostetter.

March 31, 2021  

Episode 47: The Timey-Wimey Episode

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? Well... Yeah! If you're building a world, the concept of the passage of time is likely to matter. How long is your year? How do you name the months and days? How small or large are your units of measuring time? And how can you convey all of that to a reader without making it feel like a freshman year language course?

In this wibbly-wobbly episode, we discuss the ever-present yet often-arbitrary division and definition of time and how it can work in your fantasy worldbuilding!

Transcript for Episode 47, thanks to amazing scribes!

March 17, 2021  

Episode 46: Join in If You Know the Chorus, Ft. C. L. CLARK

From ballads to books to TikToks, how do the people in your world communicate their own stories and information? The consideration involves answering a lot of questions about literacy, technology, and your culture's values. C. L. Clark, author of The Unbroken, joins us to discuss the texts-within-texts and how to build them into your fantasy world!

Our Guest: Cherae graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA and was a 2012 Lambda Literary Fellow. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages, doing P90something, or reading about war and [post-]colonial history. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in FIYAH, PodCastle, Uncanny and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Now she’s one of the co-editors at PodCastle. She’s represented by Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron and Associates.

Transcript for Episode 46 (with great thanks to our scribes!)

March 3, 2021  

Episode 45: Let’s Be Diplomatic

When you're trying to solve a problem with minimal stabbing, call in the diplomats! In this episode, we discuss the above-board negotiations of formal diplomats, the social maneuverings of informal national representatives, and the super-shady dealings of spies.

How interconnected or isolationist are the nations of your world? How do tech and magic affect diplomatic relations or spycraft? We explore these questions and more!

Transcript for Episode 45 (thank you, scribes!)

Info on Hugo Award Nominations and the eligibility spreadsheet!

February 17, 2021  

Episode 44: Old MacDonald Had a Dragon

If OldMacDonald has a dragon, how does he stable it? This episode explores domesticated animals in fantasy worldbuilding, from the useful cart-pullers to the companion animals who are purely there for scritchies. How does your world manage the animals who live alongside us? And what happens when those creatures can do things like breathe fire, open portals, or channel magical force?

Transcript for Episode 44 (Thank you, scribes!)

February 3, 2021  

Episode 43: Getting There is Half the Fun, ft. KATE ELLIOTT

Journeys are a staple element of fantasy plots -- but just how do people get around in your world? Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun, joins us to discuss the feet, hooves, wings, wheels, portals, and other forms of transportation that allow your characters to go a-questing! We also consider the implications that may arise for communication, trade, and social etiquette based on how you structure those transportation systems.

Our Guest: As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. She currently lives in Hawaii, where she paddles outrigger canoes and spoils her schnauzer.

Transcript for Episode 43, with thanks to our scribes!

January 20, 2021  

Episode 42: Life, Worldbuilding, & Everything, ft. STINA LEICHT

So once you've done your worldbuilding, how exactly do you present it to the reader? Stina Leicht joins us to consider how much information to work in, when to do it, and other elements of the wordcraft of worldbuilding.

Transcript for Episode 42 (Thank you, Scribes!)

January 6, 2021  

Episode 41: Myths, Legends and Other Lies of History ft. Marie Brennan & Alyc Helms (M.A. Carrick)

We humans are "meaning-making" creatures -- So what stories do your characters tell about themselves, their world, and their culture? The writing team of Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, who together make up M. A. Carrick, join us to talk about weaving the myths, legends, and folklore that can help your imagined world feel fully textured and lived-in!

 

Transcript for Episode 41 (thank you, lovely scribes!)

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