Friday, September 5, 2014

Jaleta Clegg Guest Post

I've got a special guest today, author Jaletta Clegg. She and I have met at a few writing events, and she's so fun to talk to. I love the premise of her newest book, Dark Dancer

Since I've got both Fantasy and SciFi projects I'm working on, I thought it would be interesting if she talked about how authors create entire worlds for their fiction. Take it away, Jaletta!

Building a World

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Donna. And for posing such an interesting topic. How do authors create whole worlds for their stories? I don't know how other authors do it, but my process is like shooting peas with a shotgun. I'm not sure how else to describe it.

I like to start with a general framework, the basic shape of the world. Then I fill it in as I go and as the story needs it. This sometimes means I get to do a lot of editing if something major changes with the story. But it also means I get to play with my imagination and add in cool little details as I dream them up.

Sometimes I'll start with one idea, one picture in my head, that I really want to write about. Then I build a story around it.

For Dark Dancer, I wanted to do elves with airships and a steampunk vibe. And pirates. I really wanted an elf as a pirate captain, with his airship. I blame this idea on my kids watching too much anime where I could watch, too, and on a friend of mine who wrote some very cool books about fairyland. Not the Tinkerbell variety of fairies, but dark and sinister and self-serving and magical and all kinds of interesting. The fae or fey, depending on which translation you read. My elves are a mash-up between Tolkein, Shakespeare's Midsummer's Night Dream, and legends of the wild hunt and the fae from the Celtic and Irish tradition.

I also love this picture. It sparked the idea of a dancer, a human who can open the door to fairyland. I pulled in some of the myths about fairy rings and dancing and the fairy revels and places of power to fill in the idea.

All of these things went into my head where I turned on my story blender. Out came the world of Dark Dancer. It's a fairy world where magic has been harnessed to run machines. The rulers, the Lords of the Seligh, have even gone so far as to divide the world into the Summerlands and the Winterlands. The land between is a no-man's land, a desolate wasteland dying from a lack of magic. It has airships, and an elf pirate captain who defies the Seligh every chance he gets. It has dancers, Sabrina and her cousin Katie, who just might change the world of the fae. It has hints of other lands, other creatures, other adventures that I haven't written yet.

I may have to re-visit my world again and explore new horizons. Because a world is only limited by your imagination. For now, enjoy Dark Dancer and its magical steampunk airships and elven pirates.

You can find a complete list of all my work at

Available in ebook and print.
Smashwords (all ebook formats)

To celebrate the release of Dark Dancer, Jaletta's having a giveaway.


  1. Story blender - I like that phrase.
    Japanese anime is really out there sometimes, but it is beyond creative with ideas. I could see how it would inspire steampunk pirate elves.

  2. Very interesting, Jaleta, thanks for sharing. As someone who sets his work in relatively contemporary America, I suspect it's a lot easier for me--not a whole lot of world to build, more scene setting.

  3. World building can sure go anywhere, just have to have the imagination to take it there

  4. What a cool blend of elements and the cover is stunning.

  5. Thanks for your comments! I love the fantastical and futuristic and all the rest of the wonderful things we can do with stories.

    JeffO - worldbuildling is worldbuilding. Whether you set it in the real world/current day or some fantasy world or the far future, you still have to create the world for the characters in your imagination. I find real world settings much more difficult to write, mostly because I keep wanting to throw in a unicorn with a bazooka.

    Medeia Sharif - thanks! I do all my own cover design. I'm very happy with the cover for Dark Dancer. I'm glad you like it, too.

  6. Hello Jaletta! *waves* Love this post! World building can be so hard sometimes, but it's so wonderful when it's done write. The book sounds awesome! Definitely a new idea, and the cover is fantastic! Congrats!


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