Find out More About the World of “Clan of Outcasts” by Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writer, Leslie Conzatti, during OWS CyCon 2019.
Welcome to another fantastic stop in our World-building Showcase blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting a story where the world changes or ends as we know it, but you can find a full list of authors and topics on the OWS Cycon website. Let’s dive in!
1. Before we dive in to the nitty-gritty, what is “Clan of Outcasts” about?
“Clan of Outcasts” was originally inspired by a series of “character inspiration” images with a similar artistic aesthetic: a seemingly normal person, with a very distinct feature about them that went beyond average–a woman in black, clawed armor with guns strapped to her hips; a mystic with a long white beard swinging a glowing amulet; a shirtless young man in the rain, gently cradling a fairy in his hand… Just one look at these images brought all sorts of ideas to mind… and before I knew it, a series was born!
Here’s the “blurb” I wrote for it:
“In a faraway kingdom, there are those known as Gifted–possessors of superhuman abilities that set them apart from regular humans. The King is dead, the Crown Prince has disappeared, his brother is a prisoner in the palace–and the Regents in power have officially branded all Gifted persons as Outcasts.
“But that kind of power cannot remain suppressed for long. One stormy night, a desperate escape marks the beginning of an uprising that will change the face of the Realm forever.”
2. What are the main differences between the “regular world” and the world on the other side of your barrier?
The biggest difference is the concept of Gifting. In the place that serves as the setting for “Clan of Outcasts”, which I just called “The Realm”, there are certain people who receive superhuman abilities: some can manipulate elements, one has telepathy, another has the ability to heal from the inside with her hands, and another can access real magic. They learn to control their Gifts, and–when the Regents issue a wholesale ban on Gifts and begin hunting them down wherever they can be found–most of them opt to hide or ignore their Gifts rather than exposing themselves.
The main difference between The Realm and your typical “medievalish” fantasy world (castles, ships, horses, wagons, and the like), as well, is the reason I call it “fantasypunk”–firearms like guns and explosives are possible, as well as digital screens, electricity systems, and other more “scientific” conveniences. One character might even possibly be an “organic cyborg,” as her “Gift”-altered sight functions more like cybernetic eyes, complete with x-ray vision, infrared, and night vision.
3. Does language play any role in your world? Does everyone speak the same language, or is there variety? Did you invent any new slang or terminology during your world-building process?
Not necessarily that they don’t all speak the same language, but there is terminology that I invented for the series. The first is of course “Gifted” and “unGifted”, to delineate between those who have received Gifts and those who have not. Now, as to the beings responsible for dispensing those Gifts, they are the Abnormals–they live in a completely different dimension above The Realm, and they look mostly human, except for certain distinctive features that aren’t as easily hidden as a Gift, that would expose them as inhuman if they walked among The Realm.
Now, as to the beings responsible for dispensing those Gifts, they are the Abnormals–they live in a completely different dimension above The Realm, and they look mostly human, except for certain distinctive features that aren’t as easily hidden as a Gift, that would expose them as inhuman if they walked among The Realm.
There are two recognized types of Abnormals: an Angel–humanoid, with a large pair of wings–can bestow a Gift upon an unGifted person. Usually these Gifts are given at a young age, to grow and develop at levels within the person’s control as they grow and develop. To ensure this, there is the second Abnormal, a Shadow–humanoid, but can make themselves incorporeal, or separate their physical form from their “spirit” form–is usually paired with an Angel, to affect the strength and the potency of the Gift. If the Gift is easily controlled by the person, then the Shadow can augment it to give the Gifted more skills and challenges to fit that person’s strength level. If the Gift is too much for the person to handle, the Shadow can lessen the Gift’s effect, even to the point of nullifying the Gift altogether and reverting the Gifted back to their unGifted state.
As I stated before, this was supposed to be a medieval-ish world with some scientific conveniences possible. Since there was a character who could manipulate electricity, I saw fit to have his surroundings lit by light bulbs, since he could light them, and I called them “glow-lamps” and never used the word “electricity”, calling it “lightning” instead. When the character with the “sight Gift” uses her alternate vision choices, she calls them “green sight” (night vision) or “red sight” (infrared/thermal vision).
4. Is there any kind of faith system in your world?
Not necessarily a “faith system” per se. I mean, yes, there is kind of a “Man Upstairs” as far as the Abnormals go, and they certainly see themselves as the intervening “force” upon the people of The Realm; but I never set out to add any kind of “organized religion” aspect to this story.
1. When building the world for “Clan of Outcasts”, what was your process like? Did you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?
The creation of the world of “Clan of Outcasts” actually came out of needing a place for the characters to meet and interact. I kind of took my cues from the environments I saw in the “character inspiration” images themselves. I winged it completely, with very little research at all–that’s generally the way I do most of my blog series. Research is fun and useful and all… but I tend to just not do it if I can get away with it! I knew I wanted a medieval-ish setting, because that tended to be the way of most fantasies–but I made sure to add the kind of “nooks and crannies” I would need for my characters to hide and sneak up on others!
2. 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?
It’s kind of interesting, because the settings in my series provide a starting point for each character, and it also provides a sense of direction for the reader. I set the Castle as the “northernmost” region, while the “Harbor” was to the west, the “Forest” to the south, and the “Wilderness” to the east. That way, if a character started at the castle and ran eastward, the reader would know they were going to end up in the wilderness. If a character in the forest ran west, they were headed to the harbor. Then, also, the different climates from those areas affected the characters, too: the “Wolf”, for example, had her home in the Forest, and she wore a suit of black armor. At one point she ends up accompanying a character through the Wilderness environment: dirt, dry, desert, and lots of sand. Not very comfortable for an armored woman!
3. When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use? Do you tend to be upfront about things, or keep the reader in the dark and feed them only bits at a time?
I definitely set the stage for the scene, and then other specific details of the world are revealed through the characters’ interactions with it. If there are specific objects that play a role later on, I make sure to mention them, but an unsuspecting reader might not even notice them.
The important thing, to me, is to establish the point of view. I’m not going to use terms like “electricity” or “light bulbs” like I mentioned earlier, because the characters experiencing the scene would not have any frame of reference for that. In the very first scene, I set it up so that the central character–the one who can manipulate electricity–thinks he’s sending a charge to the “testing beacon”, which could be simply a large object that collects and absorbs electricity. He sends the electric charge, and the thing gives out a moan. A hand drops, and the character (and the reader) realizes for the first time that it’s a person under the sheet, and there is definitely something far more sinister going on… It’s little moments like that, where there is something happening beyond the character’s immediate frame of reference, that draw the reader in and make them as much a part of the adventure as the characters themselves.
4. How much of a role does realism and hard scientific fact play in your world-building? Do you strive for 100% accuracy, or do you leave room for the fantastical and unexplainable in your world?
In terms of “Clan of Outcasts”, I definitely wasn’t striving for hard science–but I did make sure that my descriptions and the effects of different phenomena was at the very least credible! I also left a lot of things unexplained, because it’s fantasy, after all! I do have writer friends who research everything and make it their goal that not even the nit-pickiest troll could find anything factually wrong with their logic… but that’s not me. I’m here to have a good time, and take as many readers along with me while I’m at it!
5. 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?
I suppose you could call the “four regions” I described above as a system! No, but I did actually keep a running tally of the 15 (or was it 16? One died, I suppose…) characters, and who was on the “good” side, and who was on the “bad” side. I also had to make a note at the beginning of every installment as I went to write, to keep track of who ended up where at the end of the last part–it got pretty complex sometimes! I definitely had it all written down. That’s usually my strategy–there’s just too much going on in my head at any given moment to entrust any valuable information solely to my memory!
6. Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing?
Oh, it definitely happened a few times… Little things, like having a character sitting during one conversation, and walking in the door at the next scene… Or they’re standing “next to” characters who happen to be on opposite sides of the room… Sometimes, I would forget that a character was even in a particular location, and then when I would go to write them into a different scene… oops, they’re actually not there! I’m pretty sure there are more things, particularly when it comes to dialogue–a line might sound really cool when I imagine it spoken in the character’s voice, but if it directly contradicts something else that happened earlier in the story, then what’s the point? Re-reading was an important practice that I implemented, and making myself notes so I didn’t forget anything. Probably when I go to publish it somewhere, I will find more things wrong with it. I tend to get carried away with things like that. But for now, I haven’t heard of anything brought up by people who have read it, so that’s a good sign!
Where can people find you on the web?
That’s all I have for you today, concerning “Clan of Outcasts.” If you’d like to read it for yourself, you can either find it >HERE< on my blog, The Upstream Writer, or if that’s too confusing and you want a tidier format, you can also find it >HERE< on Wattpad!
To learn more about other stories I’ve written and also my published works, head over to my OWS CyCon Author Booth. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Ciao for now!