Friday, August 2, 2013

YA Worldbuilding Panel: Veronica Rossi

Veronica Rossi
Veronica Rossi is the author of a NYT bestselling trilogy that started last year with UNDER THE NEVER SKY and picked up this year with THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT.

She joined Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Tahereh Mafi in a panel moderated by author Ransom Riggs about world-building in young adult novels.

The book is about a world fragmented into two groups. One lives in an enclosed city with technology, no disease, long lifespans. There's also a primitive, tribal society vulnerable to storms and hunger.

"I did not know what I was doing when I started out" with worldbuilding. "I went with where my interests were."

She started with the question about how dependent we are on our technology and devices. Where are we going to go with that? That became the underpinning of the series.

She also did lots of research (which included staring at walls). A key bit of learning: no matter how much pre-planning you do, you can't figure it all out beforehand.

Did she have any problems in her second book? 
The biggest challenge was to keep the enclosed city alive in the story even though it mostly focused on the outer world.

Her character had to feel at home in the inner world even though she wasn't there. She used the virtual reality device she created in the first book, where characters could really experience a place they weren't in, to keep it alive.

World-building pro tip from a wiser Veronica Rossi: Don't create a world with two distinctive cultures in your first attempt at world building.

Did writing through two sets of eyes affect things?
This was by design. She wanted to see how a girl from a protected society would look at people who lived a primitive, tribal existence. Playing with each character's lens was fun for her.

How do you suspend a reader's disbelief as you're creating a fantastical world? 

Everything that happens in her story is a leaping off point. Her characters love fiercely. They fight fiercely. They make mistakes. They betray people. That is the thing that allows people to relate to the story. Even though the world is not like ours, they are going through the same kind of hardships and stumbles, first love--"all those great things we experience"--and they relate to that. 

Did you start with setting or character?

They really came about at the same time. "I really started with opposites. Past, future. Male, female. I wanted to play with what happens when you put opposed things together."

For her, character is an elusive thing. It's as though the characters are already there, but she uncovers them or reveals them from the fog of her unconscious.  That's a process of just thinking about the story and planning as much in advance as feels good. "The writing is where it all comes to life."

Veronica Rossi's website
Veronica Rossi on Facebook
Veronica Rossi on Twitter

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