Creating THE OTHERLAND: World-building for Witch in the Wind

What makes a fantasy world come alive for a reader?

One of the things I most enjoyed about writing Witch in the Wind was creating a magical world for the story. Even though my story events take place in the same Montana mining town of Bandit Creek as the rest of the Bandit Creek SWEET Series, most of the story action is driven by the history, culture, politics, beliefs and values of an alternate realm called The Otherland. My readers have to believe that there is a fully developed, multidimensional world on the other side of the Lost Lake portal. Look at the complexity of our own civilization and you can imagine what was involved in building a believable magical world.shutterstock_102303235

To start, all I knew was that The Otherland had witches and warlocks. That left me with hundreds of other details to consider. Does the magic impact the laws of nature and physics or is it just an additional element in their day to day life? Does everybody have the same level of magical power? Maybe only some should have magical abilities. And what about pets?  I have two little dogs and can’t imagine my world without them.  In The Otherland, would Kipper and Benny be magical beasts? Each question gave my imagination another thread to unwind. For example, The Goddess Legend emerged from a need to create a structure to govern my imaginary world. The short version is that many centuries ago, all the individual witch covens held differing beliefs. Each thought they were more powerful than the rest, and the resulting Coven Wars nearly killed off the entire magical race. Tara, the Goddess of Peace and Protection, intervened and chose the five strongest families to form a Witches Council. To ensure the council could maintain control over all the factions, each family was given an amulet that bestows upon them unique and enhanced powers. In Book 1, my hero, Marcus Egan, is a descendant of one of the families which is why he is such a powerful warlock. The amulets are only one of the significant magical artifacts I used.

Right after I released Witch in the Wind an acquaintance asked me, “where on earth does your imagination come from?”  After some thought, I responded, “the Island of Newfoundland.” That’s where I was born and raised. It’s definitely on earth although far enough out in the North Atlantic to forget at times. Its history dates back to the Vikings and leans heavily to Irish, who believe in everything from fairies to leprechauns, four-leaf clovers to banshees, and have all sorts of rituals to ward off evil spirits or bad luck. There were still Gaelic speakers in Newfoundland well into the 20th century and, like the Irish, we love to spin a tale!

Until I started researching for Witch in the Wind I didn’t realize there was a little-known yet long-established tradition of witch lore in Newfoundland culture. It was fascinating to see how many common elements were shared within witchcraft practices around the world, spanning different time periods and societies, including magic, shamanism, wizardry and Wicca. To build more depth into my story, I drew from the elements of witchcraft—reading about auras, magical colors, protection spells and the history, although I should beg forgiveness for the liberties I took with that information to develop my story. All of this information forms a magical system that must be applied consistently throughout any story that takes place in The Otherland.

I hope readers enjoy the world I’ve created for them, for both fictional settings – Bandit Creek Montana and The Otherland. I know it’s been a while since I released Witch in the Wind but I’ve always known there would be two more stories. Another warlock from The Otherland is about to slip through the portal to the mortal world for more adventures. And, of course, Marcus and Avy still have a role to play in resolving the situation with the Witches Council.

I’ll put See below for the magical rules as I developed them for The Otherland and please don’t hesitate to call me on it, if I break any of them in any of my Otherland stories without a really good explanation!

Witch in the Wind is available through most online bookstores, if your readers are interested reading an excerpt.

Stay tuned for more news on Mortal Magic: Book 2 in the Winds of Change Series.