Hello speculative fiction lovers! I’ve got a treat for you today, a glimpse inside the mind of prolific indie author and fellow Pencraft Award winner, Kayla Krantz.
Kayla says: Before The Council, I had not written any fantasy stories. I’ve always been a fan of the genre and wanted to see if I could create an epic fantasy of my own.
Now, onto the Questions for Kayla Krantz…
Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, what is The Council about?
The Council is the governing Coven over the Land of Five, a region entirely inhabited—and split apart—by witches with varying powers.
Lilith Lace, a witch thought to be born powerless, happily resides in Ignis, the Coven of Fire, until she suddenly develops telekinesis, an ability only seen in some witches born in Mentis, the Coven of the Mind. She’s terrified of it, unsure who she can trust. Her best friends, Helena and Clio, are hot and cold about what she can do, leaving Lilith even more unsure about her future.
At her Arcane Ceremony, the truth comes out.
When the Council learns what she can do, she’s taken under their wing and is finally told the truth—everything she’s learned about the Land of Five, herself included, have been nothing but lies.
What are the main differences between the “regular world” and the world of your story?
There are quite a few. The world inside of The Council actually takes place thousands of years after the fall of modern society. As a result, there are a lot of things that we are familiar with—one Coven even utilizes electricity—but they have built their society in a different way. Each Coven makes the use out of a different ecosystem to try and coexist with the Earth.
Is there magic or other mystical arts? What are the rules or governing principles?
In the Land of Five, there are basically two classes of people: Equipped and UnEquipped. Equipped, those with powers, are trained to fight and protect their Coven. The UnEquipped, those without powers, do the things necessary to keep it running. When a witch is coming into their powers, they are given a Book of Spells to help them develop their magic. After they finish school, there is a test known as their “Arcane Ceremony” where their strongest attributes are determined. After this ceremony, if a witch is found to have stronger inclinations of a type of magic outside of their coven then they have the option to join that coven. If they choose to stay in their current coven though, they are forbidden from using their magic for the rest of their lives.
Typically, witches are forbidden from traveling from one Coven to another with the exception of Healers. Each Coven has a Coven Healer who are all from a different coven. These Healers are bound to secrecy and may not divulge Coven secrets between Covens.
The Council is the ruling group of witches over the Land of Five. They determine the laws and which witches will enforce them.
Does language play any role in your world? Does everyone speak the same language, or is there a variety? Did you invent any new slang or terminology during your world-building process?
Everyone speaks with the same language, but since they are descended from the survivors of the modern world, there are different accents. During the creation of my world, I added a little bit of slang such as the descriptor words for people with and without magic. Also, the Adept is the strongest witch of a graduating class with honors similar to today’s valedictorian.
What kinds of climates do your characters experience? Do they see a lot of change or is it always the same? Has your world always had this kind of climate, or has it changed over time?
Since each of the five major lands are in different ecosystems, they each experience different climates. In the desert Coven, there is extensive heat and cold periods. In the plains coven, Aens, there is plenty of wind. So on and so forth.
Is there any kind of faith system in your world? Myths and legends that inform the setting or characters? Did you draw inspiration from any real cultures, living or dead?
Their faith isn’t talked about in depth, but at times, they mention a “goddess.” Although it’s not mentioned, they actually have a polytheism religion with many gods and goddesses.
What do people in your invented world do for fun? Are there sports, games, music, or other activities they do in their free time?
For witches with new magic, duels are a practice that they indulge in. For others though, there are Coven duties, chores which basically every witch is responsible for, and battle training for those who have powers. As far as entertainment goes, the Arcane and Dedication ceremonies are events that are looked forward to year long. At home, witches read or sew. Depending on the Coven they live in, they play either in the trees or by the pond.
Are there any interesting creatures in your world?
Fairies live alongside witches. They are not pets, but they are naturally skittish of being approached by witches. Sometimes though, they form bonds like the one that Lilith has with Fern.
What usually comes first when you have an idea for a book, the main character, the plot, or the world/setting?
For me, it’s usually the characters. When I first had the idea for the Council, the only thing I really knew for sure was that the MC was going to be a young witch with some kind of disability. I also had the idea that it would somehow tie into her past and that learning that truth would be an important part of a journey.
When you build a world, what is your process like? Do you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?
I basically just wing it completely. I think of scenes and settings that are only vital to the story. In the case of The Council, I created the different covens as I went along. The first times that Lilith seen them were the first times that I really brewed up the places in my head. I kept this process going throughout the entire trilogy, and I love some of the settings that I created as a result.
How central is the setting of your story to the story itself? Is it more of an interesting backdrop, or is it integral to the events of the story?
I think it’s more of an interesting backdrop. The entire series is really focused on Lilith finding out the truth of who she is and taking down the people who are tearing her world apart. While the scenes play some role in the story itself, like when Lilith is taken to the Council’s Headquarters, it doesn’t typically affect the plot.
When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use?
To get new readers to understand, I try not to get too specific too soon in the book. When scenes are first described, I’ll give broad imagery that can be connected to easily. Later on, I’ll add details that are specific to the world. For example, The Council begins with them in school, which is an easy to connect to location, but then I add in details like the Book of Spells and what the Adept is to make it specific to Lilith’s world.
Do you draw from any existing myth, legend, or magic systems?
The idea of different groups actually came to me from a number of other book series. Growing up I loved the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, and I also liked the way the Divergent series set up its world too. In The Council, I sort of combined the two of them, adding my own touch of what the group divisions really mean.
Do you have any specialized training or background from your “real life” that has informed your world-building?
There are not many, but I have included a few Wicca-related magic details into the magic system in the Council. The type of knife that they use for ceremonies, the boline, for example is a knife typically used in Wicca. Also, the mixtures of herbs and use of poultices by the Healers.
How do you keep all of the details of your world and characters straight? Do you have a system for deciding on different factors and keeping it all organized, or does it live more in your head?
Since this series was the most elaborate one I’ve ever written, I actually created a little booklet side companion. In it, I kept track of the magic rules, the descriptions of the different lands, and of course a character guide. I found that when I tried to memorize it all, I would get little details wrong like a character’s hair color or where one coven was in relation to another. It was easier to sort out with it all on paper.
Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing?
Trying to convey the size of the land was in itself difficult. The covens are large, large enough to hold about three hundred witches each, but they are not that large. Hypothetically, the witches can walk from one coven to another although it may take days to do so unless they travel across borders at the point where they all meet. Another hard to convey idea was that the land outside of the Land of Five was destroyed by the wars that civilization had fallen to centuries before.
Thanks so much for coming by and sharing the world of The Council with us! Where can people find you on the web?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my worldbuilding process. If you’d like to learn about any of my other stories, or more about Lilith and her world, check me out on my website, authorkaylakrantz.com