[Today’s post is a guest entry about the worldbuilding in Kill Three Birds by Nicole Givens Kurtz. This is one of the most fascinating worlds I have ever had the pleasure to discover. I look forward to reading future entries in this series.]
Falling in Love—Again: How I Fell for Worldbuilding
Nicole Givens Kurtz
I’ve fallen in love again. It isn’t with the new superhero or Hollywood leading man, but with worldbuilding. You might think the prolonged period of quarantine has gone to my head, but hear me out. For over 20 years, I have written fantastic stories, each with their own world. I hated worldbuilding. It felt like so much work. I wanted to get to the story, to the action, to the “meat” of the work. So, for many years, worldbuilding became a lesson in note-taking, a boring Word document with lists and bullet points. When I started a new story in that world, I would open the file labeled with the creative name of “Worldbuilding” and use the shortcut keys to find the information I sought.
It wasn’t the work. It was me who had soured on the grunt work of worldbuilding. It was mentally labor intensive. No wonder God rested on the seventh day.
But I digress. Let’s get back to falling in love.
During the whole pandemic quarantine life, I discovered something extraordinary. I can cook. I can grow vegetables and flowers. Both of these things, had you asked me in January 2020, I would’ve told you I would never and could never do. And like so much of 2020, I have been surprised and caught off guard by what I find pleasurable and what I’m capable of with these two hands.
Like cooking or planting a garden, worldbuilding takes time. That’s time I didn’t have pre-pandemic. Don’t get me wrong; I took time with my worldbuilding before, but it was stressed (see above.)
Once day I decided to write a fun, mystery series entirely for me. Novella length and just for myself. No pressure to publish or to please anyone but me. I knew I wanted it to be a fantasy world, since I haven’t done much of that since the Minister Knights of Souls series and those are bleak.
I wanted something different, something not quite as dark, but it would be a mystery so it would get gritty.
The Kingdom of Aves was born!
And I fell in love—with worldbuilding. Again.
This time, I opened my OneNote and I began to populate it with images that inspired me. I spent hours on ArtStation and Pinterest looking at Black fantasy artwork and trying to find the right images that matched what was in my imagination. I sketched out a rough map and had Sarah Macklin create a polished map of Aves for me. I researched the type of government they would have, currency, and how provinces and cities would be organized (in Aves, Nests are states or provinces, eggs are cities). It took a lot of time, but it was fun.
I loved it.
Why was it fun this time versus the other times I created worlds?
It goes back to why I know enjoy gardening and cooking. I have time to do those things without the grunt and stress of commuting back and forth to work, sitting in an office all day underneath glaring fluorescent lights.
And this time, I wanted to do it just for me. Of course, I am sharing KILL THREE BIRDS with readers after all. It released on July 20th. But as I was building that world, I looked for things that spoke to me–that I found fun and humorous or clever. I didn’t pressure myself to make it perfect or to get it just right. In fact, I created Aves with love and attention to the details that mattered to the story, but also to me.
Aves is deeply personal to me, in ways I won’t go into here.
I’m sure you won’t mind about that, as those in love rarely divulge all their secrets.