Friday, February 19, 2016

How Do You Build A World?

I hope my Hemlock stories find a home sometime. They're set in a world not too far from our own, where four teens learn the power of magic in their dreams. But why do their parents want to keep them away from the wizard school, and who is the white lady?

Of course, if Hemlock finds a home, I'll have to finish writing the series, as well as writing everything else, and book reviews. And I'll have to worm my way back into their curious world.

But for now, I'm about to start on the next of my Five-Minute Bible Story books. I'm imagining myself back in the world of the New Testament, and following Paul through shipwreck, riot and storm. They're kids' stories, so I don't want to include too much detail - just enough to give a sense of what's happening, without making the world feel alien. It should be fun.

And in other books...

Author Walt Socha creates worlds not too far from our own in the nicely Twilight Zone-style stories of Eclectic Shorts. Pleasingly unsettling and satisfying, hauntingly evocative and with enjoyably upbeat conclusions, they form a great collection to enjoy with some elegant complex four-star coffee.

Nagah and the Thunderegg by Darrell Mulch bends the edges of reality similarly with its first person narration of a life, from Oregon farm to war and back, via mountain peak and ocean depth. Alternating comedy, tragedy, pathos, terror and humor, it's a fast and fascinating read filled with music, mystery, personality and plot. Enjoy with some bold, dark, intense five-star coffee.

Road to Shandara by Ken Lozito starts in the world we know, but creates a very different world when the protagonists loses everything he loves. The college senior with a love of family and martial weapons suddenly becomes a stranger with a strange quest in a well-drawn world which promises history and pain. There's lots of detail and it's a slow read, but it's got great characters, great world-building, and great plot. Enjoy with some richly elegant four-star coffee.

In Chalk's Outline, author J. J. Hensley creates the world inside three characters' minds, rendering each entirely convincing, timing each dark revelation on the path to understanding, and drawing an outline within which a body might lie or a promise might die. It's a wonderful psychological thriller, best enjoyed with the very best of five-star dark, intense coffee.

But children's books create worlds too, with pictures or with words. Elphie and Dad Go On An Excellent Adventure by Hagit Oron recreates the inner life of a child while portraying a father's concern for safety, all in the context of an elephant taking his child shopping. The pictures recreate modern Israel quite convincingly as well. It's beautifully done; one to enjoy with a well-prepared two-star easy-drinking coffee.

The Midge and Moo stories by Kerry McQuaide feature a pear-shaped child and favorite toy. Since children aren't actually pear-shaped, the author is building a world here too, and one in which children feel safe (though the stories are very short). Letters to Santa creates a sense of a child's view of Christmas as the letters progress through each day. Lost in the Garden presents a nicely rhyming lift-the-flap style story, complete with topiary and more. Enjoy these with some easy-drinking two-star coffees and happy children.

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