Guest Post: The World Outside a Book's Covers

Today, I would like to welcome Debut Author, M.P. Kozlowsky to Kid Lit Frenzy.  As part of the JUNIPER BERRY Blog Tour, M.P. has done several guest posts and interviews.  To check on all of the posts, head on over to Walden Pond Press for more details.

When I set out to build the world of Juniper Berry – or any world for that matter – I knew I had to create something larger than the book itself, something that would exist outside its pages, somewhere in the reader’s peripheral long after the story is over. This is what makes a book rich, fuller. So, when creating the underworld of Juniper Berry, as well as its cast of characters, I tried to establish a backstory that, barring a sequel, may never even be revealed. Where did these characters come from and what are their fates? What is the meaning behind certain markings and all the suggestions and asides sprinkled throughout? Is there more to Mr. Berry’s rants and notes? Details cannot be gratuitous. There has to be a reason for everything – readers can spot inauthenticity. I made sure to insert many details that are not quite necessary to the progress of the story, but hopefully, in the end, broaden the scope of the book. By doing so, I have answers, entire plotlines with which to extend the story if I ever choose. I believe a reader, whether subconsciously or not, picks up on this. They become further invested in the story, creating their own theory for each scenario, their own subplots. This is why, after so many books, we, as readers, always wonder what happens next, perhaps continuing the story ourselves or debating possibilities with friends and family.

As a writer, one should also create a world that came before as well as after, an entire globe of information. Where did Skeksyl come from, how did Theodore get there, what is the origin of the balloons, the doors and Roman numerals? I had to think this all through in order to make it authentic to the reader. A writer should also know the individual world of every character. Where they were and where they’re going. I never mention how the Berrys found the tree, but of course I know, just as I know how Dmitri came to work for them. Every tiny detail should be accounted for. This is world building and the reader demands it, expects it every time they open the cover of a book. Even if such aspects are not in the text, they pick up on it. The work certainly pays off – it is something I would definitely encourage to every aspiring author. If all of this is done correctly, the reader wholeheartedly buys into the world the writer establishes. Juniper Berry is very much set in the real world, but it also delves into the fantastical, which can get tricky, since the reader also has to venture there, along with the characters. If the reader does not feel like the underworld in my book is credible, if they don’t sense the depth of its creation, there will be no suspension of disbelief. In essence, by creating a world, the writer is trying to capture the reader’s imagination in full. I can only hope I have done so.

Thank you M.P. for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy and sharing with readers about how you created your world for JUNIPER BERRY. 

M.P. Kozlowsky was a high school English teacher before becoming a writer.  JUNNIPER BERRY is his first book. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.  For more information about M.P. Kozlowsky, check out his website:

Juniper Berry Writing Contest: To celebrate the release of M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut novel Juniper Berry, Walden Pond Press is inviting all writers aged 9-14 to write their own tales of terror and temptation in at least 500 words. One grand prize winner will receive an iPad, a library of Walden Pond Press eBook, paperback and hardcover novels, and his or her story published online at Author M.P. Kozlowsky will select the winner. To learn more: