It is a very familiar world. We know the cities, the landmarks, even the streets on occasion. We can go there to visit, if we feel we must but it is the things that go bump in the night that attract us the most.
I’m not talking about horror or suspense, I am talking about Urban Fantasy. It is one part non-fiction, one part fantasy, a dash of horror and a pinch of fairy tales all mixed up in a novel. Writers like CE Murphy, Briggs, and Lackey (to name a few of my favorites)have introduced us to a world where what we know mingles with the unknown. From the small offerings on the bookshelves, this genre has exploded into Romance, Fantasy, Horror and a bit into the SiFi field with popularity.
I think that most of the draw for these type of stories is the familiar feel of the setting. The author does not have to go into explaining how the purple trees produce the fruit that the blue skinned farmers harvest then send to the capital. They can just dive into a city, a town, a county and start the story. No info dump needed.
They can also use analogies from modern culture. Comparing a vampire’s vanwagon to the Mystery Machine is priceless in itself. You get a feeling that this man is not a run of the mill bloodsucker. In fact, you get to like him pretty quickly. And it stems from that description.
The author can also use real-time events to fuel his or her writing. Even if an author goes back a few years, say to the Gulf War, most readers are going to know when and even where that was. This kind of approach uses a delicate sort of world building. Yes they borrow from what is already there, but they also have to carefully weave in their own details into the time stream.
It can be amazing how easily they do it but, from experience, I know that it is a lot harder than it looks.
Dragon Masque is set in a quazi-modern earth like setting. I am fully borrowing from our world in order to work my piece but I do wonder how it will all work out. Obviously, it is not the world we live in. No magic here, nor the technology that comes into play later, but it is achingly familiar.
Stay tuned and find out.