The Next Chapter

Arthur Slade on what goes into crafting imaginary worlds for his fantasy novels

The bestselling author's latest book is epic fantasy novel Crimson.
Arthur Slade is a children's book author. (Brenda Baker/HarperCollins)

To say children's writer Arthur Slade is a prolific writer would be understating matters: he's the author of 17 novels for young readers including The Hunchback Assignments, which won the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award in 2010, and Dust, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

Slade spoke to Shelagh Rogers about his latest book, Crimson, which is an epic fantasy novel about a brave girl, a vengeful queen, an ancient deity and the nature of fate. 

Wide open spaces

"Growing up on a ranch in Saskatchewan and having that huge kind of wide open landscape, it really made me feel like the world was endless. Because I write so much of fantasy, it really felt like a fantasy land — you could fill both the sky but the landscape itself with whatever you wanted to fill it with."

Devil in the details

"World building actually comes in the rewriting. First, it's getting that feeling — that image of what the world is going to be like or what the character is going to be like. Then trying to take that feeling and make it real so when people read it — just like when they read The Lord Of The Rings — you feel like that's a real place. 

"That's my job. To go over it, again and again, to the point it becomes a little boring for me, but everything is perfectly laid out so that readers don't get caught up in not believing plot points or that certain things wouldn't happen that way. Writers have to make that whole thing seamless for the reader."

Fate and fantasy

"I'm a big science fiction fan, which sounds odd as I'm writing a fantasy novel. I wonder what it would be like if someone with magic had complete control of everything and they could almost control what you're thinking or at least looking at. That to me that was bonechilling. It was something that was extremely frightening. I don't like the idea of it, other than I like the idea of writing about it. Once I had that sensation of how powerful that character would be, then it became almost easy to write about her and create her."

Arthur Slade's comments have been edited for length and clarity.