How Did Azalea Come Up With The Idea For PGTS?

One of the things people are often curious about is where authors get their inspiration from, and what life experiences or dreams influenced their creative process. I’m always fascinated about how people’s minds work while they’re creating, and sometimes I’ll read something, or listen to a song, or view a piece of art and be filled with so much curiosity about the process that I go on a crazy tangent, trying to figure out how it was made.

So, Azalea, how did you originally come up with PGTS? Not just the plot, but the world building, the dialogue, the action scenes? What came to you first - or is this more of a chicken or egg question?

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This is a somewhat difficult question to answer. As you said, chicken or egg. My original story idea was a combination of:

  1. Victorian England style setting with creatures and magic but no occult focus. I like the aesthetic.

  2. A detailed, hard magic system that could be cast in our own world if magic worked. And one of the major themes in all my writing, I think, is that you can never gain something for nothing. Great power will come with huge restrictions or downsides.

  3. Two major characters – one involved in crime, one a dark-skinned woman who would do frightening magics and had a minority cultural background.

Then, kind of like what I do with the actual writing, I started fleshing all three of these aspects out, jumping from section to section whenever I would get stuck. Revelations about the world or society lead to consequences, which lead to revelations about the characters, which lead to other consequences. So basically everything was built around everything else, leading to new major structural beams such as the Aberrants that I didn’t plan for from the very beginning, but which soon became integral.

For instance, the scientific bent of the MAGIC was only possible because of the pseudo-historical SETTING, as I’m a layman that can’t keep up with the cutting edge of science. And ABERRANTS came about of a need for restrictions on the MAGIC, as I wanted to keep the CHARACTERS from becoming overpowered, and add conflict to the SETTING via the MAGIC, etc.

I wanted to write a series that had as many things that I loved as I wanted, without restricting myself.

Starting in this series, I thought of my stories in a new way. Each plot thread is like a literal thread, and I weave them together like a tapestry. So one chapter might hit story threads A, C, E, and the next chapter hits threads B, C, D.

Just like the bones and flesh of the story concept, these threads often depend on each other for support.

I also purposefully leave the structure for future developments in the story, which could be red herrings, random worldbuilding, could be setup for one version of future events, or setup for a different version of those same events.

This increases the mystery, but also leaves me options for the occasional story thread where I know vaguely what I want to happen, but don’t yet know the details.

For instance, I didn’t know exactly what had happened in Siobhan’s childhood that led to her nightmares while I was writing Book 1. I had several different potential ideas, and as I continued to write I narrowed the idea down and then fleshed it out with more detail.