The first book in the Dolvia saga is Sufferstone, which I confess I have yet to read, although I won book 3 in a Goodreads giveaway. I reviewed it on this blog nearly two years ago – that was Strikestone, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It conjured up a savannah or near-desert planet with tribal arrangements, a deep mythology, and wholly integrated into galactic political shenanigans. Outside that, there were high-tech space transport arrangements, complex interpersonal arrangements and sophisticated trading systems.
What did you set out to achieve when you invented Dolvia?
Dolvia exists in my head as a savannah country where the women of one tribe were covered by the burka living alongside other tribes where the women had few restrictions for clothes or behavior. How did the tensions develop for the cultures to grow together into one nation?
How well do you think you achieved that?
I followed the female characters who must find solutions for problems using the tools at hand and without support from others. Rather than focus on a rape culture or violence against women, I presented situations where small victories led to larger actions among the women who opened businesses and found personal worth through their own labor.
What was your favorite aspect?
There are now six novels in the series. I like most the development of different types of women who use personal talents to overcome obstacles. There’s no one solution, breaking down archetypes of using sex, or competitive anger, or underhanded violence to succeed.
What didn’t work, or not in the way you expected it to
I’m surprised at how readers embrace the male characters as the heroes, even though I have worked at balancing the plots for both genders. Some readers want the women to function in additional romance situations, but I suspect they are romance readers who pick up a book to ride along on the emotions.
Interesting! One of the aspects I enjoyed most was the women as the protagonists, with real power.
Of the four elements I mentioned above (physical, social, political, cultural) which do you think is most important?
Creating a milieu is time-consuming. The physical aspects are first, of course, especially with placing the story on a different planet. How do characters respond to the climate and lack of technical support? I feel that the social and cultural aspects are intertwined. Providing a religious dimension for where the indigenous characters look for hope and succor are also important to me as a writer.
What key messages would you give to budding world-builders?
Take your time. Live in the world and present its dimensions through how characters respond to obstacles. Allow surprises and inventive elements of the climate or location to drive the journey story. Don’t be afraid to name places or specific repeated responses differently for a new perspective.
For example, on the dry savannah before the rains, dust columns swirl in the growing wind. The tribespeople call these Tunanim and claim they are ancestors announcing the change of seasons.
That’s great advice. I confess I find myself slowing down regularly while I have to ‘settle in’ to a new part of my universe. That’s why I picked this theme this year – to give myself time to think of some of my other worlds.
Finally, have you any new books you’d like to mention while you’re here? How can readers get hold of the Dolvia Saga?
Three books for the DOLVIA SAGA are in print and ebook form, and you can find them from the first one, here:
Also see a collection of reviews of all books in print by Stella Atrium at:
Thanks for visiting, Stella, and good luck with the rest of the saga!