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Maps and Myths: Creating Original Fantasy Worlds

 Angelica Alvarez Orlachia
Angelica Alvarez Orlachia
Faculty Advisor(s)

When writing original science-fiction and fantasy, one of the most difficult questions is that of world-building — how to create an original world, how distant it should be from reality, and whether or not you even want a world based on reality. In my research, I examined recent fantasy stories that exhibit an admirable level of world-building in order to identify common tactics and themes that would aid in the development of my own fantasy setting. Using this research, I created a preliminary fantasy world from which I then produced a collection of stories. These are part of a larger work of interconnected stories following the journey of Nym, a child who has never left the garden where she lives, as she journeys alongside the unicorn Filos as they embark on an undisclosed quest. Their travels take them all across the world, visiting long-abandoned landmarks, kingdoms, and buildings, during which Nym meets many magical characters. They each tell her stories about the people who inhabited the places Filos takes her to see, people who appear to be connected to the characters telling their stories. Along the way, Nym begins to piece together a narrative from the stories she is being told—a narrative that has nefarious implications as to why, exactly, there are no human characters on this continent—and wonders what, exactly, her part in that narrative might be. I will be reading from an early story in the collection, “How Caro Met Nym.” 


Angelica Alvarez Orlachia, hailing from Dobson, North Carolina, is a triple major in Creative Writing, English & Professional Writing, and Health Humanities. As a queer, first-generation Mexican American, she has a vested interest in diversifying creative-focused fields and expanding access to the academy by working to blur the lines between academic and creative writings. She is currently a consultant at the Salem College Writing Center and serves as Vice President and Secretary on the H.O.L.A. and Open Up boards, respectively.