Thursday, July 5, 2012

Denise Verrico on worldbuilding, a giveaway & a tasty Corn Salsa recipe

GIVEAWAY! Comment on this blog by July 8 to win a copy of Denise Verrico's THE ANNALS OF THE IMMORTYLS, a trio of vampire tales.

Building a World
By Denise Verrico

So how does an author go about building a world?  First off, I find inspiration doing my research, and then I let imagination take over.  Every writer should be a reader and not just in the genre in which one writes.  I’ve done research on everything from British street slang to Sanskrit mantras.  There are so many resources available on the web and in the library from which the writer can draw inspiration.  I was on a panel recently with the wonderful fantasy author, Tamora Pierce, and she said she learns a lot about a culture from reading their cookbooks.

Any subject is of value to the writer.  I studied costume history and design in college as a theater major, and I can’t tell you how valuable that knowledge has been.  An understanding of geography, politics, religion, art, and music can enrich a story and set it apart.  The important thing about creating a world in speculative fiction is sticking to the rules you create for your corner of the universe.

When I started writing my Immortyl Revolution series, I wanted my vampires to be different from other writers’, but still be recognizable as vampires.  Everyone knows about old vampire legends and the movie and pop culture clich├ęs.  Fantasy is the realm of make-believe, and there is much room for interpretation.  The Immortyls have enhanced physical abilities, can’t go out in the sun, and can drink only human blood.  Why do vampires usually choose to operate in the dark?  There is really no reason I could find in folklore, other than it’s easier to sneak into peoples’ houses and drink their blood when they are sleeping.  Vampires didn’t destruct in the sun until the film, Nosferatu, but I wanted my supermen to have their “kryptonite”, so I created a biological reason to keep them out of the sun, more in keeping with my set of rules.

My series plot, the race to capture the secrets of immortality, was inspired by articles I’ve read on biotechnology.  I opted for no magical powers in my world, except for the magic worked by a DNA molecule.  My vampires are biologically altered, not the undead variety, so they behave a lot like mortals in many respects.

It’s fun to play around with the old myths and legends and come up with reasons behind them or find alternatives to them. 

I find it a challenge to take all kinds of information found in research and throw it into the pot to concoct a completely new culture.  In any world, there are various cultures and subcultures with distinct rituals, rules, and beliefs.  Opportunities for conflict arise when these factions clash.  The trick is to give layers of detail without overwhelming the narrative with descriptive passages.  I try to use action as much as possible to reveal custom.  The way a character wears his clothes, washes his hands, or prays can reveal a lot about that person’s cultural background and character. 

The world of Immortyl Revolution brings to together many elements of research and reading that I’ve done over the years.  I’m a bit of a history buff, and writing about vampires gives me an opportunity to throw people from different time periods together in a contemporary urban setting.  Cara Mia deals a lot with Mia, the heroine, becoming a vampire and her struggle to survive as a modern woman in an ancient culture. 

The spectrum of speculative fiction offers many opportunities for an author.  Every writer has unique experience and knowledge to share.  There are so many worlds out there yet to discover and mythologies yet to create.  I look forward to both reading and writing about them.

This is my family’s favorite salsa.  It’s great with chips or as a side dish, and you can prepare it in minutes!

One bag frozen corn (yellow or white)
One small jar red roasted peppers
1 sweet onion (I prefer Vidalia but red works well too)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
The juice of 1 lime
Thaw the corn under hot water and drain.
Chop onion and roasted peppers into small pieces
Combine the above ingredients in a bowl
Whisk together olive oil, honey and lime juice
Toss the corn mixture with the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can make the salsa hot by adding chopped jalapenos or other pepper or adding hot sauce to the dressing.  Other variations can be made by adding rinsed and drained black beans, chopped tomatoes or avocado.
SERVANT OF THE GODDESS is the fourth novel of the urban fantasy vampire series written by Denise Verrico. This installment follows up her debut novel, CARA MIA, which introduces the characters and world of Immortyl Revolution and its sequel, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS and MY FEARFUL SYMMETRY.  Set in 2001, Verrico’s MY FEARFUL SYMMETRY introduced a new vampire hero, Cedric MacKinnon, a temple dancer in service to the Goddess Kali, who learns his beauty and speed render him a lethal weapon. “My vampire society originates in India. In my third novel, MY FEARFUL SYMMETRY, I delve deeper into the origins,” says Verrico.   “In the fourth book, I unite heroine Mia Disantini and Cedric in a way that raises some sparks.  It takes place in NYC in 2001, so there will be momentous events my characters must deal with.”  As in all her novels, SERVANT OF THE GODDESS maintains a science fiction twist on the genre, action-packed thrills and a touch of romance.

Amazon Page:
Servant of the Goddess Trade PB:
Servant of the Goddess Kindle:
Barnes and Noble: Servant of the Goddess Trade PB and Nook:

About the author
Ms. Verrico is an Urban Fantasy author and New Jersey native who grew up in Western Pennsylvania. She attended Point Park College and majored in Theatre Arts. For seven seasons, she was a member of the Oberon Theatre Ensemble in NYC. Denise has loved vampire stories since childhood and is a fan of the Dark Shadows television series. Her books are published by L&L Dreamspell Publishing and include:
Cara Mia (Book One of the Immortyl Revolution Series), Twilight of the Gods (Book Two of the Immortyl Revolution Series), and My Fearful Symmetry (Book Three of the Immortyl Revolution Series). She currently lives in Ohio with her husband, son, and her flock of seven spoiled parrots.

For excerpts of the Immortyl Revolution Series, character profiles and the Immortyl Lexicon visit

For insider information on the series visit


  1. Thanks for having me here today, T. W.!

    1. Great book review and interview - a lot of information and inspiration. While it's not my chosen genre, the talent is obvious. author of Ghost Orchid and more...

  2. Denise,

    Sounds like you managed to do something unique with the vampire theme, like Anna Rice.

    1. Thanks, Jaqueline! I have tried very hard to create something new and different. I admire Rice's Vampire Chronicles. I devoured her books twenty years ago. When I first started, I was trying too much to be like her, then I figured out that I needed to be true to myself.

  3. HI Denise. You have a wonderful imagination and that combined with your research has produced a terrific series. You've given me some ideas as well. THanks for sharing your background and this great recipe.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. When I was little, adults always commented on my imagination. I never dreamed it would lead me to writing, but I have found my passion in it.

  4. Denise -- Thanks so much for sharing your insights about world building. It definitely sounds like you've done your homework!

    And the corn salsa recipe is definitely on my list for this summer.

    1. My son loves to add hot peppers. He's the one who craves spicy foods. Thanks again for having me here.

  5. Very nice discussion on research and the salsa looks awesome! Congrats on all your success! :-)

  6. Congratulations to Cindy Sample, winner of Denise Verrico's ANNALS OF THE IMMORTYLS. Thanks for your comments!

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