Inspiration for Diamond City

Shadow and Bone will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was the first fantasy book I read after completing my Master’s degree at FIU. Mind you, I am not a passionate reader with a 200-book goal on Goodreads—I actually never read fiction growing up, aside from the classics like Harry Potter and…Harry Potter. It was hard to move on, and I know that a lot of you know what I’m talking about. 

I had this attitude about me, too. I felt like no other author truly wrote what interested me, so why bother reading? I wrote what I liked, so why read anyone else’s books?  

And—oh, man—Shadow and Bone humbled me. I was totally vested in Alina and her interest in the Darkling (which Bardugo totally squandered. To this day, I hate Mal. With a passion. He just wanted to control Alina, let’s be honest. I suppose the Darkling did, too, but he should have gotten a redemption arc). The tragedy of their romance spurred me to write a romance of my own. I mean, I had written romance before, but this new story and characters were inspired by the Darkling. 

And thus the Warlord was born.

And, of course, remember my love for Blood+. Strong female protagonists, but not bossy ones. Subtle ones. And I think that’s what Sage is—she’s a warrior who pulled the four districts of Diamond City together, but spends all her time now working pizza. She wants more for her life, but when she’s too far in, she’s shy and pulls out.

It started off with doodles. I know there’s a rage over The Last of US 2, but I was mesmerized by Abby’s fierceness. With her and Saya in my head, I think Sage was born. 

Then it graduated to some written scenes here and there. Mostly between Sage and the Warlord. They were kind of bad because I still didn’t know who the hell these people were, what their backgrounds were, and what they wanted. Any writer knows that telling the story of two people they don’t know just turns out bland and boring. Like chewing on plastic.

From then on out, I started to create a world. I started the story from the very beginning, the inciting incident, what got Sage moving, what her goals were, and what got in her way.

Diamond City details didn’t come until later. The calendar, Wooly Socks, Speedstars, Sage’s history with August, and even the Warlord’s past were incorporated after the main plot was down. I knew before I even sent it to my first beta reader that I needed to put more in the story to make it come alive. Jay Kristoff’s world-building is incredible, so I knew I needed to spend some time thinking about the mechanics, characteristics, and functions of the world. 

That’s why it’s important to let the manuscript sit for a bit. I had sent out the first draft to my beta-reader in the summer of 2022, then waited a few months or so before revisiting again. When I did, I saw things I had never noticed before—gaps in the world-building or characters that needed more attention. This is when all the extra details were added, and it’s those details that make a world of difference. 

Sometimes a lot of self-published authors rush this process. By no means is my world perfect and there is always room for improvement, but if you’re thinking of publishing, and you’re into fantasy and science fiction, think about the world and what makes it tick. The world is a character, too, and if you know its politics, people, religion, and issues, then your story is only going to be that much better.

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