I am so excited to have Kandi Wyatt as a guest today! She's celebrating the cover reveal of her latest book and sharing with us some behind the scenes goodness on how she builds the worlds of her awesome books. (Keep scrolling to see the new cover!)
Making up a world is the best part of writing for me. Often I’ll take my time, like Skymnia and Muintir in my current work in progress. The idea for their planet came from my husband asking a ‘what if’ question, and then brainstorming for the past year and a half. Other worlds are not as involved and may only come about after a day or two of thinking or even just a few moments. Shinwano was somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. The first glimpses of the world started when I wrote An Unexpected Escapade and Kajri allowed us to enter her woods. However, the majority of the work came when I asked, ‘what if bigfoot was a protector of the portals?’
I already knew that Shinwano was home to the mythical creatures, but what creatures? We already had seen Steria (get book 1 if you’ve not yet met this purple dragon) and Kajri, but what others may live here? I brainstormed a list of possible creatures—fairies, centaurs, fauns, gryphons, and of course bigfoot—to add to the dragons and unicorns. The creature that surprised me was Cantharellus the brownie. When he showed up, I knew what had inspired him, one of my favorite dragon books of all, The Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke. What I didn’t expect was for his personality to take over, to the point that the brownies even have a different name, because ‘Cant wouldn’t want to be left out’ as my editor said.
Now that I had creatures, what were their cultures like? I liked the idea of yeti, but realized that yeti and sasquatch aren’t quite the same cryptids. My way of keeping the two in one culture was to create words based on Nepali transliterations and then adjusted how the words are pronounced. For instance, sanraksaka (the name for bigfoot) comes from the Nepali word for protector. Ladaku, the main sanraksaka is derived from fighter, and his sister Sahasi is from bravery. With that in mind, I’ll leave the rest of the hidden words for you to discover. While sanraksaka came from Nepali, the fairy language and words came from Hindi.
I’ve always loved the stars and staring up at the Milky Way, and in a culture without technology, the stars would be important. So, the constellations all received names. It was fun to have Franklin show a bit of my upbringing. I learned to find the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia by my sixth grade year. Here on the Southern Oregon Coast, hunters would need to know the stars to keep their bearings, so it was a perfect fit. All the constellation names came from the Nepali words for the creatures they look like.
The world features themselves developed as I wrote. I knew the woods would be there, but what kinds? Myrtle Beach has evergreens, so I decided to make it different in Shinwano. The evergreens of the Pacific Northwest are conifer, but Shinwano has evergreen deciduous trees—eucalyptus and myrtlewood. The lake with mountains on the other side was a natural backdrop for gryphons to soar, while larger sanraksaka from the north would be more like yeti.
When I finished writing, I knew this world held potential, but I didn’t have any more ideas for books. This summer at a conference, I was given the idea to ask my readers for input. When you finish reading An Unexpected Exploit, you’ll find a link for a google form to give me ideas of things you’d like to learn more about. Who knows, maybe your idea will end up in a story of Shinwano.
Protect a mythical realm or his family?
Sixteen-year-old Franklin follows a Sasquatch through a portal to the realm of Shinwano and discovers a world full of mythical creatures he never expected to actually exist. Upon returning to Myrtle Beach, Oregon, he vows to protect the land, not realizing how difficult it will be to keep his promise, especially when a poacher, a NSA agent, and his friends are interested in the portal—and all for different reasons.
When the poacher threatens his family, Franklin must reconsider his vow to protect this new world to keep his family safe. The consequences of his decision reach further than just a rift in the space-time continuum.
Can Franklin live up to the trust placed on him and save this new world from an even greater danger?
Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that's her own five or the hundreds of students she's been lucky to teach. When Kandi's not spinning words to create stories, she's using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership. (Click her pic to connect with Kandi.)
There's also a giveaway for those who preorder. Use this link to enter.