Sledge Lit and Me (Part 2)

Sledge-LitKick off by reading Sledge-Lit and Me (Part 1)

Following the morning’s panel discussion, I ran a workshop on Worldbuilding. The truth is, I could very easily write a year-long course on this, so squeezing it into a session of just under an hour was not an easy task.

Throwing in a group discussion exercise, and a writing exercise meant that I wasn’t able to time it perfectly, but I had a plan B up my sleeve in case I ran out of time, and a plan C in case my script fell short on time. Which it did. So I simply gave out the handouts I’d prepared, and we started going through the extra topics on that. I think it was pretty seamless.

Worldbuilding is something I can happily nerd out over completely, and this workshop allowed me to indulge that. It was exciting to share my passion, and to get other people excited over something I love. And best of all, as one of the attendees said, my “excitement was infectious”. I couldn’t ask for anything more, really.

All of the attendees were great: creative, engaged, and keen to get involved. I couldn’t have hoped for a better group. The atmosphere in that room was electric, and we all went out of there absolutely buzzing with inspiration and ideas.

The feedback I’ve had has been amazing, and made it all totally worthwhile. Really hope I get the opportunity to do more of this.

Edge-Lit 3 Workshop Feedback 1Edge-Lit 3 Workshop Feedback 2Edge-Lit 3 Workshop Feedback 3Edge-Lit 3 Workshop Feedback 4

Sledge-Lit and Me (Part 1)

Sledge-LitSaturday 25th November saw the third instalment of Sledge-Lit, the Christmas edition of Derby’s bi-annual science fiction, fantasy, and horror literary convention. I’ve been attending the events since 2014, but this one was my first time attending as a guest author.

The thing I’ve always found about these events, is that every single time I leave them I am filled with inspiration, enthusiasm, and ideas. And this summer’s Edge-Lit left me with an idea for a workshop. So I emailed Alex, who organises the events, nervously awaited a reply, and that was it, I was added to the line up.

Well, there was just one more thing.

Alex asked me if I’d like to also be on a panel discussion. I said yes straight away (well, straight after I got my husband to tell me to stop being so silly over it all). If I’d given myself time to think about it, I’d have probably wimped out. My whole background is in theatre, I practically grew up on the stage. But I have always, and still do, suffer from terrible stage fright. And there’s one huge difference between being on stage, and being on a panel. On a panel, I have to be myself. There’s no costume, no script, no character to hide behind.

To my great relief, I was sent the panel questions beforehand, giving me a chance to, in my own time, construct answers to them. I brought my prompt sheet with me, because my stage fright does tend to shut my brain down completely. Of course, what I couldn’t prepare for was when the questions were opened up to the audience.

Sledge-Lit 3 Panel Discussion

Although I was shaking the whole way through, I was put at total ease by both my co-panellists, and the audience, and I managed to coherently answer the questions thrown at me. That’s why I love these events: Edge-Lit is a small, tight-knit, friendly, and supportive community of people that only want to see each other succeed.

Now read Sledge-Lit and Me (Part 2), where I talk about my worldbuilding workshop.

The Visionary (The World of The Paper Duchess)

The Visionary modelThe Visionary is the third book in The Paper Duchess series, and introduces Corinn; a powerful psychic who enjoys playing games with other people’s lives.

It begins up on Lynstock, the next terrace up from The Hope. Lynstock is quite different to Falside’s other terraces, and suffers from an increasing issue of over-population. Living on this terrace is the growing number of single men, and the lower class married couples and families.

Lynstock is home to most of the city’s industry and places of work, it is built up with tightly packed terrace houses and tall blocks of flats. It’s the activity hub of Falside, running 24-7, never sleeping. Even married women aren’t permitted to work, but there is one female profession that thrives here, and for the right price, the administration turns a blind eye. The oldest profession in the world; prostitution.

But the brothels on Lynstock aren’t like the dingy affairs on The Floor. On Lynstock, they’re gentlemen’s clubs; they’re classy, upmarket, and the slum girls that work there are clean, and well looked after, and very good at what they do.

Lynstock supports the polarity of the two traditional roles offered to women: mother, or whore.

The Matching (The World of The Paper Duchess)

The Matching modelThe Matching is the second book in The Paper Duchess series and follows the story of Tale and Freda; two young women living under the control of the administration on The Hope.

Girls in Falside are removed from their families at the age of 16, and housed on The Hope; the terrace dedicated to unmarried women, where they are protected and trained for their futures as wives and mothers. Because that’s the only future they have; and it starts with an arranged marriage to a stranger. If they’re lucky, the man they are married to will be kind and treat them well, if they’re luckier still, they’ll give birth to a girl and be heralded a hero of Falside.

At birth, girls are fitted with an ID tracker in their wrist, allowing the administration to track their movements for the rest of their lives. Every doorway in Falside is fitted with a scanner, and the administration are alerted every time any woman passes through a doorway. There are places women are expected to be, and there are places that are forbidden to them. But, of course, there are other ways to enter a building than through the front door.

Filled with cafés and little shops, The Hope is perfectly designed for women, forbidden to work, to pass away idle time. And while the little bells on the shop doors might sound merry, life on The Hope is anything but.

The Bottle Stopper (The World of the Paper Duchess)

The Bottle Stopper modelThe Bottle Stopper is the first book of The Paper Duchess series and follows the story of Maeve; a young woman who has grown up living on The Floor: the slums of the city of Falside.

Falside sits on the cliffside at the edge of the stinking Falwere River, and The Floor is the bottom terrace. People here live within the actual silt of the river itself, and the majority of their work, their supplies, and their sustenance comes from the water. While some of the houses are more established, boasting luxuries such as electricity, running water, and indoor bathrooms, many dwellings on The Floor are little more than makeshift shacks.

But it’s not all mud and smelly fish down here. The slums lie beyond the overbearing jurisdiction of the administration, and doesn’t suffer the rules, regulations and controls that the rest of Falside does. And in a city where women are owned by the administration, that’s a big bonus. In addition to that, the inability to conceive a girl is an affliction that the people of the slums seem to be immune to. Their women are many, and they are free.

So, if you’re happy to trade a simple existence, and a bit of hard graft for your freedom, for your right to choose who to marry or, indeed, if you marry at all, then the slums is the place you want to be.

The World of The Paper Duchess

Falside Map

The Paper Duchess series is set in Falside, a city that sits on the edge of the stinking Falwere River. It climbs up the cliffside, arranged across six terraces, each distinct from the others.

The books are set some 100 years from now, but it’s certainly not the typical science fiction view of the future. For the general residents of Falside, technology has largely been abandoned after the administration started using it to spy on every moment of their lives. They don’t carry phones, or use the Internet. They live in a way that we would consider to be a regression.

And technology isn’t the only thing that’s regressed. In Falside, women living under the administration’s rule are removed from their families at the age of sixteen, when they begin their preparation for life as a wife and mother. The only role that most women in the city will ever have.

Falside is suffering a crisis. The birthrate of girl babies has fallen to catastrophically low levels, and the city is running short of women. The administration’s answer to this plight is to take ownership of every girl born, subjecting them to strict controls, constant tracking, and arranged marriages. But, as with any system, there are those that embrace it, and those that fight against it.

It’s not fun being a girl in Falside…