Monday, February 6, 2012

World Building with Shelli Johannes-Wells

Please welcome Shelli Johannes-Wells today as she celebrates the launch of her tween novel ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is a humorous story about a tween angel who is forced to protect her nemesis and what can happen when you hate someone to death.

·     Add it to your Goodreads list
·     Buy it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble

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I love Shelli’s tween voice in ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. She captures the essence of 14-year old Gabby with fun, witty humor and tells a compelling story that you won’t want to put down. And today, Shelli is here to chat about world building with us.

1.   What were the biggest issues you faced in buildings Gabby’s world in the Afterlife?

Building a new heaven from scratch was difficult. I wanted to build a new world that was NOT connected to religion. So I had to think of a way to get past all the notions of Heaven. This meant changing the name to Cirrus (city among the clouds), having a woman ruler (Nephele), and an Evil man (named Malum). That way, kids of all religions could read the story and separate it from their religious beliefs. Even though everyone doesn't believe in angels.

2.  I love how you think outside the box when it comes to the Afterlife. Concepts like SKYagents, Brights, and SKYfones are just brilliant! And I love the food there. Who wouldn’t want to eat angel food cake dripping with chocolate or angel hair pasta? So Shelli, how were you able to spark that creativity into ON THE BRIGHT SIDE?

I’m kinda corny I guess? I wanted to create a technologically advanced afterlife with cities that were eco-friendly. I wanted kids to think it was fun and whimsy yet hip and modern.

3.  World building sure doesn’t build itself. Where do you start when you are worldbuildling? (i.e. the setting, language, rules, dress, architecture)  

I am very visual when I write so I usually start with the setting first. What does it look like? How does it need to function? What is the ruling system (government etc)? What are the rules? That usually lends itself to making up rules for everything else. If I don’t know what a place looks like or how it functions, the other pieces don’t fall into place easily.

4.  Your world building is full of humor that sparks life into ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. Phrases such as BBF (Bright Friends Forever), Miracle Nails, Sacred Chow and SKYolations literally made me laugh out loud. Where do you think this stuff up?

Girl, I have no clue where all that stuff comes from. It just pops in my head. I was looking to do play on words and to touch on different aspects of heaven and Earth that kids could relate to. I started by listing all the things kids love: fashion, shopping, food, clothes, and technology. I started making lists and went from there. I must say, I even surprised myself sometimes. I mean Sacred Chow? How funny is that (if I do say so myself.) Something’s are part of my life. I get my nails done at Angel Nails – I’m not kidding so that is where I got Miracle Nails. I eat at a place called Chow Baby so Sacred Chow popped into my head. And of course, don’t forget Dolce and Nirvana (ha!)

5.   How do you keep all the details in Etern City and Cirrus in order without it becoming celestial chaos?

I keep a file of everything in the city of Etern. The positions. The government. The buildings. So I always reference that. Anything that comes up as I’m writing goes in that file for reference.

Thank you for joining us Shelli and sharing your SKYpertise!

Comment below to enter and win a copy of ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!

“Peace, love, and recycle!”


Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Thanks Christina! :)

Angela Ackerman said...

Very smart to approach the world building by keeping it distanced from religion. :)


Larissa said...

Great interview, Christy! And I agree with Angela, steering clear of religion in worldbuilding is a GREAT idea, and very inventive, considering the premise involving angels. :)

CookieMonster said...

Wow, On The Bright Side sounds like the most amazing book! My favorite type of stories are about angels, and this one looks great! The cover is also gorgeous; definitely would be a wonderful addition on any bookshelf. :) Shelli Johannes-Wells seems so cool, and I loved reading all her answers. I look up to her as an author, and though I'm still a teenager I hope to one day be like her! Thanks for the contest so much, and best of luck to all who enter!
xo :)

Christina Farley said...

CookieMonster- I know. It's such a great concept isn't it? And yes, Shelli IS cool.

Stina said...

This sounds like a cute book. I still have to read Shelli's YA book. It's on my iPod Touch, impatiently waiting for me.

Danyelle L. said...

Sounds like an awesome story, and I love the world building!