In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms have become a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her meteorological engineer father, Jaden Meggs is surprised at the strides her father's company StormSafe, has made with custom shelters that keep her family safe in even the worst of storms. At her exclusive summer science camp, Eye On Tomorrow, Jaden meets Alex, a boy whose passion for science matches hers. Together, they discover that her father's company is steering storms away from the expensive neighborhoods and toward the organic farming communities that are in competition with his bio-engineered food company, NatureMade. Jaden must confront her father, but when she does, she uncovers a terrifying family secret and must call on both her scientific knowledge and her faith to save the people she loves most from one of her father's monster storms.
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Can considering dark futures help us to build a brighter one? This question is always on my mind when I read dystopian and post-apocalyptic books, and it was on my mind as I wrote EYE OF THE STORM, a science-weather thriller and my first novel for young readers that's set in the future.
In March of 2012, I was invited to give a TED talk on imagination and society building as it relates to fiction set in the future. When I took the stage in front of 1500 people, Jaden and her friends from EYE OF THE STORM were there with me in spirit. You can read more about my TED talk here:
The concept of "world building" was at the heart of that talk. Writing EYE OF THE STORM required me to imagine a future that hasn't happened yet, so it involved a lot of thinking and writing explicitly about this world my character inhabits, its rules and challenges, and how it got to be the way it is.
For those who aren't familiar with the term, world-building is the process of coming up with all that information -- the history, rules, and everyday realities of the world in which a fantasy or science fiction novel is set. In historical fiction, we simply call this research, because the world already existed in a past time, and the writer's job is to ferret out all the details about what it was like. But when a story is set in an imaginary world or in the future, there's no real-life past to explore. It all has to be made up, but made up in a way that makes sense, in a way that the circumstances of the world are believable, given the history that created it, and in a way that's logical, given the rules you've established for the world.
Even imaginary worlds need rules. Consider Hogwarts. The incantation "Expelliarmus!" always results in an opponent being disarmed, if it's done right. As readers, we wouldn't be on board if a character used "Expelliarmus!" to disarm an enemy in one scene and then cried "DroppusWandus!" five pages later. Things need to be consistent.
So what do writers need to consider when creating a world? I created a world-builiding worksheet that felt like it help me to build Jaden's world for EYE OF THE STORM. You can see it -- and read more about the process here:
World Building - Part I
World Building - Part II
World Building - Part III
By the time I was done, I felt like I lived in the future that Jaden, Alex, Risha, Tomas, and the other characters inhabit. It was a scary place to be, but an energizing, exciting one, too. I hope you'll read EYE OF THE STORM, and I hope you enjoy your time in that world as much as I did.
Kate Messner is the author of Sugar and Ice and The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. She teaches junior high in New York, where she lives with her husband and two children. www.katemessner.com
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Book Description Walker Childrens, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0802723136
Book Description Walker Childrens. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0802723136 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0370951
Book Description Walker Childrens, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110802723136