I found this neat project on Twitter, called #FebruaryWorldbuilders, created and hosted by Kira of the Wind. Basically it's an introduction to the world you've created for your books. Today we're going to dive into the world of Son of the Siren.
PART ONE: WORLD
World's name - I didn't come up with one! I wanted this book to be like a fairy tale, and in most fairy tales, the stories begin, "Once upon a time, long ago and far away." I named the kingdoms and countries the story takes place in, but didn't bother naming continents or the world.
Size/Scope of world - The story is limited to three kingdoms that characters pass through: Ardeth, Léandor, and Asherin. They also journey to Perdra, an island in the north that belongs to Asherin, and Elythia, a fae forest that wanders on its own and can't be mapped.
Share your maps! - I would love to do this but the map I made got lost in Japan and I don't remember enough of it to draw a new one.
SNIPPET: "Land" - I don't want to post any snippets of the book directly, but I'm happy to describe for you one of my favorite locations in the book--the forest of Yanna. It's so huge it runs through two different kingdoms, and is filled with rich, tall cedar trees, winding pathways, moss-covered rocks, mist, and greenery. It's based off of the island of Yakushima, which I visited in Japan as my first solo trip, and I wrote about it here. Check it out and look at the beautiful photos!
Natural feature (forest, river, etc.) - There are three forests in Son of the Siren. Pinemore is a pine forest on the outskirts of the castle town in Ardeth; Elythia is the fae forest that is divided by four seasons; Yanna runs through Léandor and Asherin. There are also the mountains of Glynna, where elves and dwarves make their home, and then the island of Perdra, the best place to view the aurora borealis. The oceans are dangerous, filled with sirens and sea creatures.
MC's hometown - Lirien, my main character, is from Ardeth. He is the bastard son of King Neven of Ardeth, and lives in the castle, although he is shut in his tower most of the time. He's under a curse where he cannot leave the sea for too long or too far, or else he turns to stonelike coral and dies. His tower faces the ocean and is the closest to it, so he is safe from the curse there.
World vibes/aesthetics - I wanted to make the book like a fairy tale, so I hope that the lands and its people give off those vibes. Fairy tales have always had fairies, elves, and dwarves show up, along with giants and other magical beings. The forests are always places that are dangerous or scary to go into, and the sea is usually powerful and untamed. I wished to capture all of that in the book.
PART TWO: MAGIC
Hard or soft? I had to look this up, and I found the definitions here. I used a soft magic system, where the rules aren't entirely known to the reader. I never explain why or how Elythia can "walk" places and just appear when it feels like it, for example. The only rules I ever explain are that humans can't do magic (but I don't say why) and how sirens seduce and kill their victims. I don't explain how Lirien's coat of many furs works, or why or how the sword Alibrandr can "rend the heavens." I just go with the flow with my magic system and leave the rest up to the reader.
Categories (elements, schools, paths, etc.) - I don't know what this is, and honestly, I don't think I have this in my novel anyway.
Born, trained, or both? Humans aren't born with magic and can't use it. Magical creatures have innate powers.
SNIPPET: "Magic" - Sirens have a specific melody they sing in order to seduce their prey, but it won't work unless you are a siren. A human might sing the siren melody (which is nigh impossible because usually they're dead before they can remember it), but nothing will happen, whereas the siren can sing the same tune, and it will hypnotize and seduce the victim. Once a siren sings the song, the spell lasts until the siren eats, or until the siren dies.
Social acceptance of magic - magical tools are coveted by humans because that's the only way they can use magic, but even then, that backfires. So humans accept the presence of magic but want it for themselves, and are frustrated if they can't do it. Magical creatures easily use magic and are completely nonchalant about it.
Combat magic - I don't really go into this because I don't have combat in the novel. But the sacred sword Alibrandr is sharp enough to fell dragons, but its full potential cannot be realized (and its true size cannot appear) until a Glynnan elf awakens it.
Everyday use of magic - magical creatures use magic on a whim. They can use it to heal, to impart a compulsion on people, to make life easier for themselves, to harm others, etc.
PART THREE: SOCIETY
Social classes - this mirrors the society of the Tudor era. There's the monarch who rules over everyone, then the middle class and lower classes. I wish I could've come up with something original, but again, I was going for fairy tales, and there's always a king and queen in them, along with princes and princesses, and then the peasant class.
MC'S position in society - Lirien is a bit of a conundrum. He is a bastard, so he doesn't have the same opportunities or treatment as his siblings, who are the official royal offspring of the king and queen. But because he is a child of the king, he still lives a comfortable, sheltered life. But because he is half-siren, he spends much of his time isolated so as not to draw attention to himself. He is also considered dangerous to a certain degree on account of his siren blood, which is poisonous.
Gender roles - I wanted this society to be more than just "male" and "female," but rather, a society where it is completely normal to be other genders, or not follow the male/female binary altogether (for example, Kerrick, the royal tutor, is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns). The same thing goes for sexuality. I wanted to represent all different kinds. Even though my story takes place "long ago and far away," and is roughly based on the Tudor period, the thing is, queer people have existed for ages, and deserve to have a seat at the table in my book.
SNIPPET: "City/Town/Village" - I made a cute little village in the forest of Yanna called "Pocket." It's exactly that, just a little settlement for people passing through that's tucked away in the woods.
Societal issues - there is inequality between the classes as it often happens in the real world, but I don't really explore that because there's no room in the story for it.
MC's happiness with society - because Lirien's world is so small, he is ignorant of society's ills and even how the kingdom is run. He is content enough just to spend time with his siblings, and usually nothing else.
Popular food or drink - lavenderberry wine is popular in Elythia, but is dangerous to mortals to drink because of how intoxicated it makes them.
PART FOUR: GOVERNMENT
Rulers - King Neven and Queen Aurinda rule Ardeth, and Queen Eira and Queen Idela rule Asherin. Lord Iesin and Lady Ariana are the rulers of Autumn Wood in Elythia.
Law enforcement - I don't really show this except for the Queen's guards.
System of government - absolute monarchy.
SNIPPET: "King/Queen" (or any title used in your book) - King Neven is just a little blip in the book, as Lirien's siren mother comes for him to sing him into the sea. He doesn't survive. Queen Aurinda is cold to Lirien. She doesn't outwardly hate him, but treats him with indifference and has favoritism for her own children. When she is taken over by the siren spell, she becomes violent and obsessive, willing to do anything for Lirien to love her.
Stable or about to revolt? The kingdom is stable and the people love their rulers.
A law your MC dislikes - it's not exactly a law, but the royals stole the sword Alibrandr from the Glynnan elves, who crafted it, calling it dangerous because of what it can do. They keep it under lock and key in the royal treasury, and never intend to return it.
Is the government in your world fairly good or tyrannical? For the most part, the government is good, but the Queen makes terrible choices that threaten the people when she is under the siren spell. A sacrifice must be made to ensure the peace of the kingdom.
What inspired you to create your world? I wanted to emulate classic fairy tales. At first I made some mistakes doing this, by creating an original pantheon of gods in the story, but I cut all of that when I realized it was turning the book more towards myth than fairy tale. So I restored the book to the original vibe I wanted to go for.
The Tudor stuff is more to give a sense of place in time. I loved the clothing from that era, so I chose it mostly for the costumes, but also the food and the design of the castle and the dances they did back then all reference the Tudor period. It's not overt at all, so readers likely won't be able to go ahead and say "This book is the Tudor era!" but they'll be able to tell the book is from centuries ago.
This was a lot of fun to do. I am happy to share Son of the Siren with you, and I don't feel like anything I shared was a spoiler, so I hope you enjoy this special preview of the world from the book.
If you want to do this on your own blog, here is the original image breaking it down:
Son of the Siren is now available for pre-order on Amazon and will also be a part of Kindle Unlimited, where you can read it for free with a KU subscription. It's eBook only at the time of posting, but paperback will be available soon, not just from Amazon, but Barnes & Noble and Bookshop, too, among other places.
The book releases July 2, 2024.
Pre-orders really help! Get the book here. Thank you for your support!