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2 April 2012

Guest Post: World Building and Inspiration By Ian Alexander


I'm delighted to welcome Ian Alexander as my guest today as part of his Guest Tour for his  novel  'Once We Were Kings'. Over to you Ian:

For any fan of fantasy—or writer, for that matter—the subject of world building is paramount.  You see, the thing fantasy fans are looking for is a setting that transports them to a different time, a different place, where things don’t work as they ordinarily do in our own.  And yet, they don’t want something so far removed that they cannot identify with it.  Therein lies the elusive balance between imaginative transportation to another realm and resonance with the human experience.  How does a writer bring the two into a convincing balance?

As for world-building, I turn to things I know, and then pull from those that are not commonly regarded as “normal.”  In Once We Were Kings, I structured the two warring kingdoms as vastly different as can be.  I modeled the Eastern Kingdom of Tian Kuo after ancient Chinese civilization, drawing on their mythology, as well as socio-political constructs.  Many of the cultural behaviours and values may seem exotic to those with roots in western civilization, but to those in touch with Chinese traditions, it will seem pleasantly familiar.

For the Western Kingdom of Valdshire Tor, I modeled it somewhat after European medieval culture, blending English, German, and other such lore, and yet, I inserted many Judeo-Christian allusions from The Bible (whose historic roots are from Middle Eastern Civilization.)  All in all, I tried to blend the familiar with the unfamiliar and put a new twist on it.  And yet, because it was written for young readers and those new to the genre of Epic Fantasy, I incorporated well-known elements (dragons, spirit-guides, demons, magic, clash or deities, etc.)  While these are well-trodden tropes, books of which fantasy enthusiasts who have grown long in the tooth may have read too many, those new to the genre have found it a pleasant introduction and as a result have begun reading more.

Many of my followers know that I wrote ONCE WE WERE KINGS at the request of my son, who loves C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  I must admit that I too love those books and have drawn much of my inspiration from them.  That my book has been compared to them is not only an honor, but a validation of my attempts to bring inspiration and deeper thought in an entertaining package.

If you aren’t a fan of Epic Fantasy, or Young Adult Fantasy, I would like to propose that you might be missing out on some very enjoyable reading.  I wouldn’t recommend delving headfirst into the more challenging 800 page tomes at first.  Try something more accessible.  Young Adult fiction these days is a wonderful way to start because most of the books written in this genre don’t condescend, as if they were merely writing for children, despite the fact that the protagonists are in fact young people.  The writing is not as esoteric as some adult epic fantasy and will therefore be a smoother transition into the genre for new readers.

Might I also suggest you try ONCE WE WERE KINGS, and if you like prequels, please check out FROM THE ASHES, a short novella with some rich backstory to ONCE WE WERE KINGS.


Thank you so much Ian, that was a fascinating insight into your world building.  As a lover of fantasy myself, I can't wait to read your books.

About Ian Alexander:
Winner of the 2011 International Book Awards, Joshua Graham writing as Ian Alexander, wrote this book at the request of his then 6-year old son who is a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind.  The request yielded not only the first book ONCE WE WERE KINGS, but a series, the sequels of which will soon be released.

ONCE WE WERE KINGS is a Young Adult Fantasy novel, but has been enjoyed by thousands of readers worldwide from young adult to senior.  It has been a #1 bestseller on two Religious Science Fiction & Fantasy lists on Amazon and is available in Kindle Edition and Hardcover Edition as well.


Visit the official Ian Alexander Website at: www.ianalex.com  
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