One of the most enjoyable aspects of developing Clara Poole is the sheer amount of world creation that's necessary to even begin writing. The average middle-grade novel is between 40,000 and 60,000 words. Those with significant world creation, like fantasy, tend to add another 20-30k. For reference, the first Harry Potter was 76,944. My book is not fantasy, at least not in the typical sense, but a world of magical realism, where most things are farfetched, but not, technically speaking, impossible. Balloons and buildings are not what they seem, monkeys can be pilots, kids attend Air Academy (a floating school run by unhinged daredevils), and the stages of the race comprise some of the most inhospitable and dangerous places on earth. Vivid world creation, an outlandish cast of characters, and an array of geographies and cultures, help frame a child's personal struggle with overcoming the loss of a parent and the ability for self-rediscovery.
Quick story synopsis: A girl becomes an instant celebrity after she accidentally launches herself in a homemade balloon, and is invited to participate in an around-the-world air race. From there, everything goes off the rails in spectacular fashion.
Recently I spent a day creating the 100-year history of WOOBA champions. Even though, it does not appear in the story in such literal from, it has been an essential writing aid. I felt I had to do something with it, so I decided to post it here. The names alone are too fun.