World Builders resumes again with another co-author team — Paul Inman and Patrick Ryerson.
Patrick Ryerson was born in Livonia, MI about 18 miles from downtown Detroit. He moved to Myrtle Beach, SC at the age of 13 where he met co-author Paul Inman some years later in High School. Patrick graduated from Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL with a B.S. in Business Management and Marketing. He is an avid book and comic collector/reader of mostly Batman/Detective Comics.
Paul Inman has a passion for storytelling across many platforms, including all genres of music, short films, podcasts, and different types of writing. As a graduate of Coastal Carolina University, he holds a BA in Music Performance and an MA in Teaching.
His debut novel, Ageless, is one of the winning entries in the Sword and Laser Collection Contest from Inkshares. He currently teaches chorus at Myrtle Beach Middle School and lives in Myrtle Beach, SC with his amazing wife, Kim, and wonderful daughter, Parker.
Having Paul and Patrick on my blog together is a special privilege for me. Paul is the author who very generously read, recorded, and put on YouTube the opening chapter of Blood Dawn. You can listen to it here (and be sure to listen to the other opening chapters Paul has recorded for other authors. He is an awesome narrator!)
Here are Paul and Patrick’s answers to my world building questions.
What is the appeal of world building to you? How does it compare to the importance of character and plot?
Patrick R – I grew up reading books like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, etc; all these books have submersive worlds that while reading them they become tangible. My biggest appeal to world-building is creating something completely out of nothing, making it tangible and whisking the reader away to parallel worlds for boundless adventure just like all the books above did for me. Character and plot are very important things to focus on but without an intricate world they become less believable and drab. There has to be balance; achieving balance in a story to me would be like watching someone in the 30’s see a movie in color for the first time, simply beautiful.
Paul I – World building gives your characters a playground in which to grow and develop. Without a tangible world built around your main story idea, I think it’s difficult to determine the motivations of your characters and to some extent your plot. Personally, I feel like the worlds that the characters are immersed in are just as important as the characters themselves. For example, if you look at the literary world of The Princess Bride, specifically the Fire Swamp with the R.O.U.S.’s and the Snow Sand, you can easily see how the created world can become intertwined with the characters and plot. If you think about the real world (which if you’re like me you probably don’t care as much for it as the world you have created) and how much certain aspects affect what we do and the decisions that we make for ourselves, then you will quickly see how essential world building is for any story that is created.
In Motor City Chronicles, the story Pat and I are currently campaigning on Inkshares, it was very easy for us to say “hey we want a post-apocalyptic world to place these characters in” and the story that revolves around them. As we started to dive into what this world was going to be like it began to change our characters and the motivations for what they do. For instance, the future United States in our story has to tax heavily in order to defend itself from another outside attack. Because of that many people are struggling financially throughout the country, which brings us back into our characters’ motivations, namely the financial struggle, and the burdens that are placed upon them. The ironic thing about world building is that a lot of times most of the information that you work on doesn’t make it into the final drafts. Ultimately that last iteration of a story is usually driven by the characters and the advancement of the plot.
Do you have a technique for keeping track of world building as you go? How do you ensure your material is easily retrievable and easy to modify?
Patrick R – Modern technology for the most part is a blessing, until your computer deletes something you worked on for days and you fight back the urge to pour bottled water into the CD tray until it catches fire (Paul- That would be pretty impressive to watch though). Nevertheless Paul and I use Google Drive. It’s a fast and easy way to access everything we have from our computers and mobile devices. And because we live 4 hours from one another, we mostly FaceTime while using our Drive. The app allows us edit the each page at the same time, which comes in handy when brainstorming. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for early writers to keep track of everything they had, kudos to them.
Paul I – As Pat said, modern technology makes everything so much easier in terms of keeping up with your world building. On Google Drive we share a doc that we call our Story Bible. We have things broken down into different sections labeled characters, history, culture, politics/religion/military and mythology. This helps to keep everything organized nice and neat so when we need to look back it’s all right there and easy to find. Take the character section, for example, we have everything about the character from their name, physical description, emotional description, historical background, family trees, all the way to special abilities (if applicable) and weaknesses.
The great thing about always being connected is the fact that we can work together even if we aren’t together. As Pat said, we currently live 4 hours apart from each other. For this interview we used Apple’s FaceTime to discuss our big motivations and then moved the questions into our Google Drive for ease-of-use and to answer at our own pace. Right now I’m using the voice-to-text feature on my cell phone as I sit in the parking lot while my dog is being groomed. Technology is amazing! In Motor City Chronicles we tried to extend technology to the next logical step from where we are today. Hopefully that comes through in the story.
What do you enjoy the most about world building?
Patrick R – Great world builders like J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin have written some of my favorite books of all time and have taken the art of world building to levels that most of us will never achieve. The thing I enjoy most about the art is simply stepping into a parallel universe and creating it. It’s God-like really, creating a world from a blank white page. Anything goes; there are no boundaries, just your mind.
Paul I – For me, one of the most enjoyable things is actually getting to figure out what’s going on in this other place. The act of creating, just sitting down and thinking “What can I do?” and not being limited by anything except your own imagination. If I want a polar bear to show up on a tropical island – done! Or if I’d like to create a device that takes the characters to a parallel version of our own world – done! How about in the case of my other novel, Ageless (being produced by Inkshares – preorder now!), I created an entire fictional town where one of the major settings of the story takes place simply because I COULD. It’s very freeing really.
Describe your world and some of the considerations behind it that you feel give your stories a solid sense of realism:
Patrick R – My entire family worked in the factories of one of “Big 3”, General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler. We take a lot of pride in the city and growing up around fast cars, motorcycles, and snowmobiles. Like my bio says, I spent most of my early life living around the big city. We are injecting the feeling of pride that cultivates from that lifestyle into our story. Pride for your neighborhood, and friends and family. Our story takes place in this world, but with modified present day, and future events. Most of it takes place in a very large city called Motor City (a fictionalized version of Detroit). This series that Paul and I are writing started off as a comic book but turned into a series of novellas once we realized we needed a bigger platform, that…and we couldn’t draw.
Paul I – No, we absolutely cannot draw! That was really hurting our chances for a comic book out of this story and world. For me, what really grounds our story is the fact that it’s set in an urban setting that’s a little bit rundown like the modern-day Detroit or some parts of other metropolises. That and the fact that we’re going to use a lot of real automobiles to add to that sense of realism. A lot of the main characters work at an automotive restoration garage. So they’ll be restoring and driving different classic cars throughout the story even though it’s set (mostly) in the future. Also, another thing that adds realism is the problems that these people are facing. Just like today any one of us could be facing financial hardships, so are the characters in the story. Any one of us could wake up one morning and find out we have a disease that will eventually cause paralysis confining us to wheelchair. It’s these kinds of real issues that show up in our story from time to time.
Author Stephen King, of all people, created one of my favorite worlds with his Dark Tower stories. In reality it was many worlds that he intertwined together creating something even more massive – spoiler alert – that ultimately brought some of his major characters into our real world to confront a fictionalized Stephen King about saving the many different worlds that those characters came from. Mind blown! I know not everyone cared for that and some thought Stephen King egotistical for it, but I thought it was genius! It was a meet–your–maker type of moment and very cool to read.
Thanks, Paul and Patrick, for sharing your insights on world building!
Now here’s more about the book they are working on together:
In the year 2030, the world struggles to find balance after a devastating war with new technology. 17 year old orphan, Cam Blackwell, holds an ancient secret that could bring balance to the Earth. But first, he has bigger problems.
And now…an EXCLUSIVE peek at the second chapter (you can read ZERO and ONE here):
“Modern historians tend to disagree, at best, where the Arc is located,” Father Constantino said addressing his fourth class of the day. He’d taught Theological History at St. Joseph’s Preparatory Boys’ School going on his twentieth year. The Father had a constant battle trying to blend the modern discoveries science provided with the ancient text of the Catholic Bible.
“The mountainous region of Yemen,” Father Constantino clicked the touch sensitive Smart Board dynamically zooming his Prezi+ Arc presentation to the next section of the zoomable canvas which showed a three dimensional satellite image of the Middle East “is the new hotbed for theological discoveries. Although, tensions will always be high in this area of the world, so who knows if we will ever find anything.” He clicked the Smart Board again, progressing his presentation forward.
“But if we look—” Constantino was cut off by the shrill sounds of the bell. Cam, who had been sleeping most of the forty minute class, jumped into the land of the living like he was falling from a cliff. The rest of the students began to move, packing their Bibles and tablets into their backpacks.
“Hold up, guys,” he said raising his arms in a stopping motion, “The bell doesn’t dismiss you, you know that.” He sighed at having to repeat the same procedures day in and out.
Father Constantino dropped his hands and raised his head, “Mr. Jackson, you may leave first.” The young man gathered his belongings and slung them over his shoulder, then grabbed a forearm crutch in each hand. He struggled briefly trying to get out of the small desk, his legs were always against him, but finally began maneuvering his way to the exit of the room.
Father Constantino called out as the rest of the class followed after Mr. Jackson, “A friendly reminder, the final draft of your digital presentations on the Battle of Mount Tabor focusing on General Barak and General Sisera is due Tuesday. Have a good weekend. Mr. Blackwell, hang back.”
Cam sighed, he had almost made it out of the door. Constantino had watched the boy change into a man over the last three or four years. Cam was now standing at more than six feet tall. His shoulders had broadened significantly giving him a perfect V shape of a football player. The Father had also noticed the corded, ropey muscle working under the tan skin on the young man’s forearm more than once; Cam was strong. His long black hair was usually pushed back in a “wet look”, and occasionally it was pulled back into a short ponytail when he was working, today he was not. His hair hung down the sides of his face not quite covering the pattern of spirals imprinted down the left temple and cheek where he had slept on his notebook.
“Cam,” Father Constantino leaned his rear onto the edge of the desk closest to him, “this is the third time you have slept through my class in the past week.”
Cam didn’t meet the man’s eyes with his own; instead he chose to look out the window at the rain beginning to fall.
“What’s going on?” the Father asked after a moment of silence. “I want to help you Cameron, but I can’t if you don’t let me in.”
Cam stood in silence continuing to stare out the window. Father Constantino waited patiently for any response; even through body language he could see the boy was hurting.
“Why don’t you come to confession, we can talk in private and no one but me and God will be there to hear you.”
Slowly Cam’s grey eyes reluctantly shifted to the creases and wrinkles in the Priest’s face. He began to nod.
“Maybe, yeah,” Cam lied.
“Ok,” the Father said, “Good.” The tardy bell sounded.
“Get to class; I’ll see you in a bit maybe.”
Cam nodded once, turned and left the Father alone in his empty classroom.
Here’s what some people are saying about the book:
I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic done well but also done different. A fast-paced, electric rhythm in the samples so far promises an intriguing story that mashes classic disaster stories, post-apocalyptic tales along with hints of transhumanism all set to a high-octane beat. I’m curious to read more of this.
– JF DUBEAU
A gripping thriller-like tale of Armageddon. Inman and Ryerson write with such vividness the story pops off the page like a hand, takes you by the throat and pulls you into Cam’s predicament.
– JOHN ROBIN
If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to help bring this book to life, please go over to Inkshares cast your vote by pre-ordering a copy.
Inkshares is a crowdfunding publisher who chooses which books to publish based on whether enough readers have shown interest in them. Successful projects have been reviewed in the NYT, US Today, and Washington Post, and have been distributed to numerous bookstores including Indigo and Barnes & Noble.
You can also connect with Paul and Patrick on Twitter: