Building the World of Bellona
by Jessika Fleck
Like all stories, Beware the Night, slowly evolved from a loose skeleton of a concept to a complete work in several stages. Originally titled, The Offering, the world in which Veda, Nico, and Dorian face Sun verses Night and all the shadows in between certainly didn’t materialize in my brain overnight. However, the setting was probably the first thing I was sure of when I began drafting the book.
I knew I wanted this story to take place on an island. In the beginning, it was a series of islands all surrounding the main island of Bellona and linked by sea and canals. It was a very cool concept but presented too many logistical issues to juggle. Plus, I definitely wanted Veda’s community to feel intimate and fairly small; a place where two very different groups of people have to work together to keep their community thriving. A place where everyone knows who the glassblower is and who sells bait at the market and certainly who to avoid and who to trade with. Thus, the single island of Bellona was born.
In the earliest stages of the story, I knew I wanted a society inspired by Venice with canals and tunnels and winding, cobbled walkways. Less grand than true modern-day Venice, but with all of the charm and mystery. My husband and I actually visited Rome and Venice on our honeymoon and literally found ourselves lost within the maze of streets and towering buildings and it was magical. So, I knew the sort of aesthetic I was going for—just a more rustic, darker version. The Romanesque touches came later with the addition of a coliseum and spectator style ceremonies. But instead of the rituals being a game and for sport (despite how those in charge might take advantage), I knew I wanted Bellona to have a more sacred relationship with its Offerings.
Once the main structure was set, I sprinkled the world of Bellona with unique details to make it its own. It made sense that fish would be a major resource and I loved the idea of a female main character who was a skilled fisher. Having hourglasses instead of clocks entered around this time as well. I really liked the idea of the characters using something old-world and different to keep the hour. The rest of the landscape: thick forests, long tunnels, underground caves, piazzas, and a dormant volcano naturally evolved as the story progressed. I adore this world so much (can you tell?)! I even attempted drawing my own map (on the title page of my pass-pages, no less)…
Title: Beware the Night
Author: Jessika Fleck
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
On the island of Bellona, they worship the sun. Seventeen-year-old Veda understands that keeping the sun content ensures plentiful crops, peace and harmony, and a thriving economy. But as a member of the Basso class, she never reaps those benefits.
Life as a Basso is one fraught with back-breaking work and imposing rules. Her close friendship with Nico is Veda’s one saving grace in a cruel world where the division between her people and the ruling Dogio is as wide and winding as the canals that snake through their island.
But when Veda’s grandfather is chosen as the next sacrificial offering to keep the sun’s favor, Veda is forced to see the injustice of her world. Turning away from the sun means she must join the night—and an underground revolution she’s been taught to fear all her life.
About Jessika Fleck
Jessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her YA debut, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled TEEN), is now available. Her next YA novel, BEWARE THE NIGHT (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) releases March 12, 2019. More at www.jessikafleck.co
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