Matt Bowers’s life ended at sixteen, when a vicious betrayal by someone who he should have been able to trust left him a shell of himself, fighting OCD and PTSD, living in constant fear and always running. When he buys a remote tract of land, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world and attempt to establish some peace. For ten years he believes he’s found a measure of comfort, until the day a stranger begins to run on Matt’s road.
He returns every day, an unwelcome intrusion into Matt’s carefully structured life. Matt appeals to the local sheriff, who cannot help him since the jogger is doing nothing wrong. Gradually, after tentatively breaking the ice, Matt begins to accept the man’s presence—
But when the runner doesn’t show up one day, it throws Matt’s world into chaos and he must make the hardest decision of his life.
Building New Worlds: How to do it authentically
I’m going to admit, building new worlds in a single book isn’t all that hard. Look at your setting. What motivates you to put your character in that locale?
Example: Runner takes place in a remote town. The main character, Matt, lives far out of town, where he feels safe. Why? He can build a life here. He has his garden, his greenhouse, a stream to fish from, animals that he can hunt. He wants for nothing. Or so he thinks.
Your character: What affects him? What motivates and drives him? How does this affect the people around him?
Example: Matt cuts himself off from his family for the most part. He talks to his brother on the phone occasionally, but he can’t be a part of his family’s life. It just won’t work for him with his issues. So how does this affect others? What impact does it have on his family? The people who know him? Does it have a ripple effect on others? How does your character—and those around him—deal with the situation?
The problems: And here is what’s swirling around, affecting everyone. In a single book, the problem—and resolution—are handled pretty easily.
Example: Matt’s abuse at sixteen by someone he should have been able to trust. Matt assumes that this affects only him, but as time goes by, he realizes how it impacts those around him as well.
But… And here’s where we get into the fun of world building… what happens when your book is actually a series?
When K.C. Wells and I did Collars & Cuffs—and Secrets—all the rules above are in full force, but now the problem comes in that you have to determine if there is an overall story arc and how one event will flow into another book.
Example: Peter from Collars & Cuffs (Trusting Thomas). His abuse at the hands of his tormentor ripples throughout the series. In Someone to Keep Me, it shakes Scott to his core, but it also gives him a friend. Peter’s issues continue to resonate, and touch many lives such as
Jarod in Dom of Ages and JJ in Endings and Beginnings. Peter’s problem becomes a focal point that affects everyone in this world. And this is a good thing. It’s part of your world and it needs to be addressed from time to time so people don’t think you’ve forgotten about it.
In fact, Peter’s mentioned in An Unlocked Mind (book two of the Secrets series), because he does have such an impact on this world.
So when you build a world, you have to look at all of the pieces and see how they slot together. Some may be like an IKEA set, where you’ve got little things that don’t really need to be checked up on each book, but if it’s the main thrust of your story, you need to keep it in the reader’s eye from book to book, especially if there is a long gap between each issue.
Example: In Before You Break, Ellis is injured on the job. Will his injury have an impact on the series as a whole? Maybe not, but it’s still going to ripple from time to time. He’s going to appear in book two when he gets to deal with Rob (poor Ellis).
In closing, remember that in the worlds you create, you’re the god. What you say goes. But you’ve got to make it believable. Or not. That’s the fun thing about creating them. Oh, and because you get to tear them apart, too. That’s always fun.
After suffering an attack at 16, Matt suffers from extreme OCD and PTSD. He has locked himself away from the world in a cabin miles from town. He has turned his land into a self-sustaining oasis. He grows his own food, he fishes and hunts on his land and has almost no contact with the outside world. Then one day his world is turned upside down when someone starts jogging past his house everyday. The first sighting sent Matt into a panic attack to rival all panic attacks. Matt tried calling the sheriff to see if he could stop him, but the runner isn’t breaking any laws. Slowly, Matt comes to expect the runner at the same time everyday. One day when he doesn’t show up Matt’s world tips again. Can he leave his carefully constructed world to find out what happened to his runner?
This was a great read. My heart broke for Matt so many times throughout this story. His reaction to the attack was extreme, but how could it not be? He was 16, with very little if any coping skills. His mom did his a great disservice, she wan’t strong enough to get him the help he needed and so he retreated into himself where he knew he was safe and then eventually to his compound.
The runner, Charlie was an intriguing character. I love that he pushed Matt’s boundaries without being pushy or mean. He knew when to push and when to back off. He was so caring and understanding.
I loved the amount of detail in Matt’s compound. When Parker Williams described it I could actually visualize it, and I really have no imagination. From the greenhouse to the lake and all the gardens.
The thing that made me love this story was that Matt fell in love with Charlie and that made him want to get help to fix his issues, but Charlie made his see that he loved him issues and all and if he was getting help it was for himself. That he was loved either way, warts and all.
The story line was not at all predictable, as soon as I thought I knew what was going to happen something else would. I love that. The characters and the setting were well developed and rich with detail. This is the first time I have read anything from Parker Williams but it won’t be the last.
5 pieces of eye candy