Once the detail of the world was plotted, I started getting on to the really fun bits.
The love story:
I knew I wanted to write a love story, the kind I would love to read, or even better find myself embroiled in. It would have to be something brooding and full of tension, but once again pushing our human boundaries, making more overt the butterflies, prickling skin and electricity we feel when in the throes of crazy attraction.
But everyone knows the best part of a love story is the courtship, the excited anticipation, the will-they-won’t-they? The peaceful monotony of happily (or even turbulent monotony of unhappily) married life isn’t my ideal read. So I started to think about how to keep things interesting, how to extend the initial tension without just throwing problems at a linear relationship, and not surprisingly, came up with multiple love interests (powerful, good looking ones naturally) to add a bit of spice.
The love interests each bring something different to the table and reflect the time old conundrum of what to look for in a relationship – fun, flirty escapism, grounded, brooding power, or solid, reliable safety.
Power and celebrity:
Equally, I wanted to touch on our very modern obsession with celebrity; how we turn rulers into celebrities too, and our fixation on overnight fame. These themes are juxtaposed against an extremely talented main character, who, far from coveting attention, shies away from the limelight, caring only about the pure joy of winning against the most tenacious of adversaries.
And in the world of The Relic Trilogy, the most tenacious of adversaries are the Descendants: three ruling families, each representing one of the three Gods. They pass their rule down to their children, monopolizing power and ensuring its concentration in the hands of a privileged few.
The only way for others to get close to power is to be born into one of the Council families (those who are entrusted to help the Descendants run the world), do something notable and be appointed a Councillor, or climb the academic ladder and become a leader within the Temples.
Location location location:
I split the world into three broad areas: Kingdom, Empire, and The Wildlands. Empire, where the first book is set, is a quiet, sedate-paced, former capital city. It provides a degree of separation and difference from cosmopolitan Kingdom, a more imposing metropolis and home to the Descendants. The Wildlands are really a place of mystery in the first book, primarily because, for Anita, they’re a vast unknown. They’re explored in more detail in the rest of the trilogy.
The bad guy / gal:
A good story wouldn’t be a good story without some kind of villain, and villains, I think, are especially powerful when the reader has cause to question their motivations. I wanted to reflect that nobody is all good or all evil, and trying to navigate our way through the black and white of right and wrong is a minefield, through which (although we pretend otherwise), no unequivocally correct path exists. The only certain outcome is that we will all lose a (metaphorical or otherwise) limb or two along the way.