So as part of the promotion for Love, Time, Space, Magic I volunteered to host a couple of guest blogs over the next week. First up, Ira Nayman, who normally blogs at Les Pages Aux Folles:
“Writers can create complex worlds with words. But, of course, these worlds are not created in one sitting; we can only work on one little piece at a time. Some writers have a long-term plan in their head. Me, I am a magpie: I travel from shiny object to shiny object, writing whatever amuses me at the time. Somehow, I have managed to create a complex Web of stories in the process.
This started with The Daily Me, a feature on my Web site, Les Pages aux Folles. Each version (there is at least one in every weekly update) contains short snippets from a variety of different (fake) news sources; it allows me to parody and satirize a wide range of current events within a single piece of writing (each Daily Me contains between six and 12 snippets). A few snippets seemed to have a science fictional bent (involving robots, aliens or obviously alternate worlds), so I created a source for these bits of writing: The Alternate Reality News Service (ARNS).
After a while, I realized that I could spin The Alternate Reality News Service into its own series of articles featuring fake news from other universes. I started developing beats (each story has its own byline); I now rotate between about 25 different reporters for the news service. As I worked with the concept, it grew to include reviews, interviews, opinion pieces, obituaries and advice columns; it is now a full service news service. The sixth book in the series, What the Hell Were You Thinking? Good Advice for People Who Make Bad Decisions, the second collection of ARNS advice columns, will be available to the public some time next month.
Over the years, questions arose that had to be answered in various ARNS articles. Q: How do ARNS reporters travel between universes? A: A technology known as the Dimensional PortalTM. Q: Are they allowed to go wherever they want to? A: No, that would cause instability in the multiverse. Q: Can other people travel between universes? A: No. Civilians have a technology called a Home Universe GeneratorTM that allows them to see into other universes, but they cannot travel to them. Q: Who has control over who is allowed to travel between universes and where they go? A: The Transdimensional Authority, which monitors and polices interdimensional travel. In this way, by adding ideas to the mix as it occurred to me that they were needed, I built the underpinnings of my fictional multiverse.
When it came time to write my first novel, Welcome to the Multiverse*, I didn’t think the Alternate Reality News Service would be a good organization to focus on, so, instead, I set it in the world of the Transdimensional Authority. I had to create a whole new cast of characters and conflicts, but much of the worldbuilding had already been accomplished, so it was just a matter of expanding on what I had already created.
This month marks the release of my third Transdimensional Authority novel, Random Dingoes. Among other things, this novel introduces the Time Agency, which does for time travel what the Transdimensional Authority does for interdimensional travel. In fact, the two organizations investigate flip sides of the same coin: when somebody creates a new timeline by traveling in time, they are, of course, creating a new universe tree. I was so taken with the Time Agency and its main character, agent Radames Trafshanian, that I am exploring that world in a new novel I’m working on. There is also potential for future stories in ideas that were thrown out in the first three novels but not explored in any depth. So, for example, I am developing some ideas for a story set in the Alternaut Academy, where Transdimensional Authority investigators and Time Agency agents are trained, and there are some intriguing possibilities for a story about a transdimensional diplomatic corps.
When I was asked to write a story for the anthology that would eventually be called Love, Time, Space, Magic, I thought it would be fun to explore the early days of the technologies that allowed transdimensional travel. This would allow me to fill in some details about the worlds I had been building. So, I wrote a story about how the creator of the Dimensional PortalTM had originally been part of a team investigating time travel, but, knowing that time travel stories always ended in heartbreak, decided to take his research in a different direction. In this story, I manage to explore the creation of the Transdimensional Authority, the Alternate Reality News Service and the Time Agency. Oh, and, in keeping with the theme of the anthology, it is also a love story that crosses time and space.
Not bad for a few thousand words.
Ideas build on ideas; it’s only looking back on her work as a whole that you can trace the development of the complex worlds that a writer creates. This should give you some idea of how I have built mine.”