Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Joys of World Building ~ Guest Post with Author Romy Sommer

Romy Sommer, author of jazz-era historicals such as Let's Misbehave and Prohibited Passion under her alter ego, Rae Summers, branches out into contemporary fairy tale romance for her latest release, Waking up in Vegas from Harper Impulse. My guest today, she hints at how a writer goes about inventing fictional settings for her books.

The Joys of World Building

by Romy Sommer

I learned from a young age that one didn’t simply ‘watch’ television. TV time was the most productive time of day in our household. My mother, who as an English teacher always had as constant supply of papers to grade, would work as she watched. My father would generally be found fixing something or building puzzles...and I read, or did embroidery, or drew.

Since my artistic ability is limited to stick figure drawings, my drawings were usually floor plans of houses I could only dream of living in, or maps of majestic estates or fictional countries.

Sommer's inspirational view of the Rhine River.

When I went through a phase of reading Elinor Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School books as a teen, I created layouts of the school(s). When I was into Arthurian books (anything and everything to do with King Arthur) I created maps of the Dark Ages kingdoms of those books.

I had no idea at the time that this was all preparing me to become a writer, because a very large part of what writers do is world building. No matter whether we write sci-fi or romantic suspense or comedy, we’re creating worlds for your characters – whether they be distant planets, underground mazes or the office building in which they work.

Today I still create maps of fictional places and grand homes I can only dream of living in. The difference is that you can now share these fantasy worlds with me!

For Waking up in Vegas, I created the fictional European nation of Westerwald. Lying roughly between France and Germany (pretty much where the Rhine River is in real life), it’s a small hilly country, with a major river running through it lined with medieval castles (now I wonder where I got that idea?!). The hillsides are covered with vineyards and ancient woodland, and downriver lies the nation’s only large town, Neustadt (so called because it’s newer than the rest of the nation, and not to be confused with the real life German town of the same name).

Westerwald is also a nation where fairy tales come true.

It’s here that my heroine Phoenix meets her destiny in the shape of Prince Charming, aka Max Waldburg.

For me, creating fictional places is as natural as breathing, but am I just revealing my inner Geek Girl by admitting this – or do you also create fantasy worlds in your own head? And more to the point, have you ever committed those fantasy worlds to paper?

(If you haven’t yet, I can highly recommend it!)


Waking up in Vegas

What happens in Vegas…

Waking up to the bright lights of Vegas in an unfamiliar penthouse suite, cocktail waitress Phoenix Montgomery finds she’s covered from head to foot in gold glitter and not alone – aside from the empty bottle of champagne, there’s a mystery man in the shower and a huge sparkly ring on her finger!

Stays in Vegas?

There’s no denying Max Waldburg’s demi-god sex appeal but commitment-phobic Phoenix doesn’t do relationships. Only it seems her new husband (agh!) has other ideas…he’s trying to keep that ring on her finger and his wife firmly back in his bed. The only question on her lips is – why? Or maybe, why not?



I wish I were dead. Phoenix moaned and pulled the pillow over her head to block out the blinding light and the clamour of rain. If only her head would just explode and get it over with.

At least the pillow seemed softer this morning. And it smelled nicer than normal too. A fresh citrus scent that quickened her blood.

Hang on a minute. Rain? In Vegas?

She peeked out from under the pillow. Oh my…

Not her room.

This room was at least twice the size of her entire motel apartment, and way better furnished. Correction: this wasn’t just a room; it was a palatial hotel suite. Through the double doors she spied a living room.

She sank back on the pillows, which seemed to be dusted in gold glitter. Perhaps she’d already died and this was heaven. Though she highly doubted heaven would want Phoenix Montgomery. Not that she’d been a particularly bad girl, but she’d never made much effort to be particularly good either.

And she’d certainly seen and done a few things a more conventional person might quail at. This being one of them.

She covered her eyes. Blocking the sunlight streaming in through tall windows at least helped the ache in her head.

Sunlight? Then that wasn’t rain…

Instantly awake, she turned her head and identified the source of the sound of running water: not rain, but a shower running.

She wasn’t alone.

Terror clutching her heart, she lifted the crisply starched sheet. Oh hell…

Beneath the sheet, she was stark naked, aside from yet more gold glitter. And not alone, in a room she didn’t recognize.

What the hell had happened last night?

Through the aching blur, she fumbled for memories. She and Khara had got off work not long before dawn, and they’d gone out for a drink as they often did at the end of a shift. They’d chosen a pool hall away from The Strip, the kind of place that wasn’t in any tourist brochure. With the sedatives the doctor had prescribed to help her sleep, Phoenix hadn’t had that much to drink. Besides, she could handle alcohol. Unless...

There was only one thing that could get her drunk.

She closed her eyes, grasping for the memories. They’d danced to music from an old-fashioned juke box and played a couple of games of pool. She’d even won a little money off a guy with tattooed arms who couldn’t believe he’d been bested by a girl.

And then there’d been a man who bought her a drink…

The bathroom door opened. Phoenix sucked in a breath and opened her eyes.

Yeah, that man.

God, but he was drool worthy. Especially wearing nothing but a fluffy white towel wrapped around his hips. He definitely worked out. Until now she’d believed six packs like that were the results of air brushing in magazine spreads. This set of abs was one hundred percent real.

She forced her gaze higher, over the tanned chest, broad shoulders, up to meet a pair of startling blue eyes in a face framed by overlong fair hair.

“You’re awake. Good. I’ve ordered breakfast.”

She was so not hanging around for breakfast. She cleared her throat. “Where are my clothes?”

He pointed toward the living room. Clothes lay strewn across the floor and, yep, there it was, the only thing that could get her truly and embarrassingly drunk... a bottle of champagne, empty and lying on its side on the floor.

“How are you feeling?” The demi-god’s voice matched his face; deep, masculine, with a hint of amusement and a faint Germanic trace.

He perched on the edge of the bed. He smelled as good as he looked, clean and slightly lemony. Just like the pillow. Her blood all rushed south again.

She could only imagine how much fun he’d been up close and personal. Pity she had absolutely no memory of it.

“Did we really…?” She waved a hand at the bed, and her naked body beneath the sheet that she now held clutched to her breasts. And her heart stopped.

Was that a ring on her finger? On her left hand?


Waking up in Vegas is published by Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins, and is available from the following online retailers:
AllRomance eBooks

About Romy Sommer 

I’ve always written stories for myself, but didn’t even think of being an author until I realised that being over thirty and living in a fantasy world was a little odd. Writing those same stories for other people makes it a lot more acceptable! By day I dress in cargo pants and boots for my not-so-glamorous job of making movies but at night I come home to my two little Princesses, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, and I get to write Happy Ever Afters. Since I believe every girl is a princess, and every princess deserves a happy ending, what could be more perfect? You can follow Romy on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or on her blog.


  1. I loved this book! It was really different! Great post and extract!

    Mandy :)

  2. Awesome post, you've expanded my perception of world building :)

  3. Mandy - thanks for your lovely review!

  4. Lori - since you write historicals, you know all about creating worlds you've never actually stepped foot in!

  5. I LOVE THIS EXCERPT, ROMY! I so gotta read this story!! I love maps. In fact, if I open a book and there is a map inside the front flap, something weird happens inside me. I get all giddy and immediately know I have to read the story. LOL Lovely post!

  6. Great post, and the book is amazing. Can't wait for the next in the series :)

  7. Thanks AJ - woot! anotehr map fan!

    Aimee - thanks so much for all your support. I hope Book 2 will be out soon!


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