Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday! Once again, I’m talking about the Debts to Recover ‘verse this week. Please assume that there will be spoilers for both the wider ‘verse and for specific stories in this.
As I discussed last week, Tommy Leigh is a debt slave who works for one of the bad Mistresses, Felice Hong. The poor boy is one of her most popular debt slaves. He has a major role in the bigger story I’m working on telling.
Frankly, I frequently wonder whether or not the wider story will qualify as erotica or not. Yes, the smaller stories I’ve told range between hot romance to erotica but the bigger story, that one is very different and very dramatic.
Yes, major spoilers for the future are about to occur so if you’re spoiler phobic do click away now.
I think I’ve mentioned a few dozen times that I think really hard about the worlds I create. I build complicated cultures and people and even continents. I also build complicated stories that are really hard to categorize when it comes time to publish them.
The Debts to Recover ‘verse as a whole so far has a heavy amount of smut. A majority of the short stories are erotica, pure and simple. But the longer the stories get the less simple the categorization gets. For example, the stories in A Range of Debts and Captured Debt (collections of short stories and novellas) range from romance to outright porn. The Nature of Beasts (novel) however, only has a couple of sex scenes in it and is most closely categorized as a M/M Romance novel.
The big story I plan to tell does have sex scenes. It also has a couple of romance plots (M/M for the most part). But the majority of the story is suspense and action/adventure. Makes it kind of complicated to figure out how I want to position the ‘verse so that readers who will enjoy it can find it.
So what’s this bigger story?
It’s a battle between two people, Master John Boles and the terrorist Black. The battle plays out at every level, from personally between the two of them and outwards into the rest of the world. Master Boles’ whole company is affected, as are all his debt slaves. Black’s whole criminal organization is affected. The police, society, the news, even the buildings and roads that people interact with have been affected by this battle.
Master Boles fully intends to destroy Black. On his side, Black has every intention of destroying everything that Master Boles dear before killing him in the most painful way possible. Given who they are as people and the resources that they have at hand, there’s a good possibility that they could take their entire city with them. Possibly a big chunk of the state.
So how has this private/public battle affected the worldbuilding I did, since this is a column on worldbuilding? In enormous ways, truly enormous ways. In The Nature of Beasts in the first chapter Kaleb comments that he isn’t used to living in such a dangerous area. He’s not used to having to keep his bullet-proof car windows rolled up. There used to be trees along the streets but they’re gone now, replaced by bars on the windows and protective pylons to keep car bombs from getting too close to buildings.
This is a direct result of Black’s efforts to destabilize Master Boles’ power base. He’s waged a terrorist campaign against Master Boles, using bombs, fires, spies and everything else he can think of to get at Master Boles. At the same time, he’s changed the way the city works. Anyone with money and power knows that they must have body armor and armored cars. Bodyguards are a must.
The common people who ride the subways just expect that there will be armed guards on the turnstiles. Adhemar and Neil in Taste of Joy, despite being madly in love, accept that if they act strangely while in the subway it means that they could be arrested or killed. They run up the stairs towards the surface and the sheer act of running frightens people until they see how Adhemar and Neil are laughing together.
Master Boles has countered Black’s efforts by becoming the virtual ruler of the city. No one and nothing challenges him directly. Even Master Darius Elshag (An Unrepentant Bastard) doesn’t dare to go against him directly and he’s perfectly prepared to commit mass murder in the name of saving his lover.
An Unrepentant Bastard spells out many of the ways that Master Boles has changed the political and justice systems to aid in his battle against Black. Master Darius feels perfectly secure in calling the chief of police of his suburb and informing him that there will be a war between him and the rival master who kidnapped his lover. The new media report on the war widely and openly, without any disapproval being leveled at Master Darius.
It’s simply assumed that Master Darius has the right to kill anyone and anything that gets in the way of recovering his lover. That’s a direct result of Master Boles’ defacto assumption of control over the city. Yes, there are elected officials. Yes, there are police. But no one expects them to actually take care of the larger issues of civil unrest that Black causes.
It’s really kind of fun. I’ve woven so many threads into the stories, little bits of worldbuilding that tie back into Black and Master Boles’ battle. Many of the assignments Tommy gets as he works for Mistress Felice Hong directly relate to information that Black wants to know. Tommy and his fellow debt slaves at the brothel all know that if they mess up too badly it will be Black who punishes them. All the smaller, less important, Masters in the story trace their power back to Master Boles. Getting his approval at the end of The Nature of Beasts was a truly huge honor for Kaleb and Nenne. It more or less guaranteed that the two would be left along to their happily ever after (outside of terrorist attacks, of course).
It all ties into the brewing war between Master Boles and Black. And, unfortunately for him, Tommy is right in the middle of that battle. I haven’t written that story yet, the one where he finds himself at the eye of the hurricane, but I hope to soon. I’m looking forward to it despite the horrible things that will happen to poor Tommy.
I’m also looking forward to writing the bigger story, the long one that might be erotica but more than likely will be closer to romantic suspense than anything else. Hopefully I’ll get the first installment of it out in 2014 though there’s a lot of work yet to do before I get there.
Hopefully all of this made sense. It’s hard to talk about a ‘verse as big and complicated as the Debts ‘verse without giving the entire plot away. I really don’t want to do that. It’s going to be far too much fun to write for that. If you have any questions about this do please ask. I really would welcome questions!
I hope that you enjoyed reading this. Please do ask questions if you have any. I like sharing my world building but writing these takes time away from writing stories that I could publish. Thus, it would be greatly appreciated if you would consider leaving a donation. All money received goes toward keeping me writing and posting these columns. Thank you very much!