Today I am thankful that I have no Shadow to worry about with the snow surrounding my home.
Ah, what am I talking about?
Well, I recently read a fantastic middle grade novel that was about a young woman who goes to her imaginary world.
Let’s just say things don’t go quite as plan. (Hence the snow reminding me of the Shadow, though that’s all you’ll hear from me on the matter. *winks*)
I’m super thankful that Emily Golus was more than willing to let me ask her all the questions about her extraordinary world in her Escape to Vindor and the beginnings of her writing journey.
But first! Look at this amazing cover below and the intriguing synopsis.
About the Book
For as long as she can remember, Megan Bradshaw has imagined herself as the heroine of Vindor, her own secret world populated with mermaids, centaurs, samurai, and more. When school pressures and an upcoming move make life unbearable, Megan wishes she could escape to Vindor for real.
And then she does. Megan finds herself trapped in Vindor, with flesh-and-blood versions of her imaginary characters. Dreaming about being a hero and actually fighting monsters are two very different things–especially when the Shadow, the frightening creature now tearing Vindor apart, is one Megan doesn’t remember putting there.
Megan, playing the part of her alter ego, Selena, embarks on a dangerous journey, accompanied by a know-it-all centaur and a goblin she’s not sure she can trust. Will the Shadow destroy her before she can find a way to save her world?
– Hi Emily! I am SO excited to be chatting with you today! For those who don’t know you, can you share three words to describe yourself?
Highly practical dreamer. I still have the childhood joy of being lost in my own world, but over the many years of novel writing while holding a full-time job, I had to learn a lot of discipline and goal-setting in order to make the most of my limited hours each week.
Also, I’m not afraid to change a story element that I like in order to communicate better with my audience. (Case in point: I cut 30,000 words out of the original Escape to Vindor draft in order to get the story to flow better!)
– Wow! That’s amazing, Emily! I heard for many authors it’s hard to cut a high number amount of words like that. I saw you mention on your blog that you have been dreaming up worlds before you could write your name. Do you remember some of the first stories you dreamed up?
I was four or five when I started, and I have oddly specific memories of them. The earliest stories went along the lines of My Little Ponies Escaping Peril. Then I moved on to Anthropomorphic Mice Having Adventures, and eventually to So Very Many Mermaids. (I was really obsessed with mermaids, haha.)
– Oh, the titles are so much fun! I noticed you also mentioned on your blog that you tend a blueberry garden. What’s one of the most interesting dishes or sauces you’ve made with blueberries?
They never make it into a sauce—I eat them long before that point. 🙂
– Our family is the same way with our blueberry bushes. Hehe. I am so excited for your debut Escape to Vindor! It is an amazing read, and I especially love the amazing-intense world building. Such a diverse set of people! Is there one group of people that is your personal favorite? Did any group of people surprise you in how they became part of the world of Vindor?
Building cultures is my very favorite part of writing fantasy, and in Vindor I have 12 cultures to work with, which is a ton of fun. When I created each group, I didn’t try to make any one of them a 100% ideal society, and I didn’t even try to tailor them to my own tastes. I see each culture as having different advantages that sometimes produce different drawbacks. For example, the Rikeans, who live in a high-tech underground city, are very harmonious and peaceful, but I’d probably find them stifling after a while. The Nomads, who wander the open plains, have complete freedom, but they’re always in conflict with one another. So while I love them all, it’s hard for me to choose one as a favorite—I try to stay objective on this one!
As for surprises, when I first started imagining Vindor, I outlined the people in broad strokes (e.g., the Dembeyans are the scholarly people who are vaguely medieval African. The Mauritians are the urban centaurs that are vaguely classical Roman.). Then when I dive deeper into really figuring these cultures out, I occasionally am surprised by some of the details that I “discover.” (The Dembeyans actually base their entire cultural identity on learning, which has interesting implications. The Mauritians really, really like laws and rules, and they also host annual Olympic games.) So some of those later developments take on a life of their own!
– How interesting! I have to admit that I’m not sure which culture was my favorite either. They all have such unique attributes! I’m certain Megan can relate with visiting this imaginary world. I love it so much that she gets to visit the world she made up and am curious what inspired you to write her story. Is there an imaginary world you would like to visit beside Vindor that has been a place in your mind? (I know I wouldn’t mind visiting Vindor if you do! *winks*)
Once many years ago, I was thinking how cool it would be to live in Middle Earth—and then I started thinking that to really, physically be there in the middle of the spreading Darkness would actually be terrifying. So I started pondering that contrast—how imaginary worlds that are fun to dream about would become very different experiences if we landed there for real. That’s where the initial seed for the Vindor plot came from.
As for Megan’s story, it in many ways reflects my own journey through my highly anxious teen years to the confidence that comes through knowing I am loved and protected by Christ.
If I were to make up a place that I’d actually want to live, it would be comfortable all the time (probably a forest or garden) and would frankly be rather boring to read about. That being said, I would love to go to Vindor myself, even with all its dangers!
– Yes! I know I definitely wouldn’t imagine my imaginary worlds to have some kind of spreading Darkness if I visited. I love the special meaning this story has too. <3 I’ve heard on numerous occasions that most authors can’t choose a favorite character, BUT I wonder who you would want to hang out with for a day. Who’s the lucky character to hang out with you? What would you guys do?
Well, I’m not shy to say that Bat the goblin and Nikterra the centaur are my favorite characters (at least for book one!). Nikterra, however, would probably get on my nerves pretty quickly. She and I are opposite temperaments, so while that makes her fun to write about, we probably wouldn’t get along.
I would have a great time hanging out with Bat, though. I’d take him out for coffee, and then have to stop him from eating the java beans on display, and prevent him from opening all the creamer packs, and then I’d have to work him down off of his caffeine high. It would be very chaotic and entertaining.
– LOL! That definitely would be a very entertaining day! I wonder how Nikterra would react if she visited our world. Speaking of her, what’s in store next for readers? I totally want to devour more of your books and hope you have more stories to share with us in the future! 😀
I have a sequel coming out in November/December of 2018 that I’m very excited about! It takes place several years after the first book and introduces a whole new set of characters (plus lots more Bat to love). It also gives us a closer look at several of the cultures that were only mentioned in the first book—including lots of mermaid action.
Between now and then, I hope to release some extra content on my website, worldofvindor.com. I’m planning to reveal one of the chapters that didn’t make it into the final cut of Vindor, plus write some new stories that explore some of the characters more in-depth.
Thank you so much, Laura, for having me on your blog!
– Oh!! I am so so so very excited to hear all of this! Can’t wait to read some of the chapters not included and the sequel! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Emily!
About the Author
Emily Golus has been dreaming up worlds since before she could write her name. Her childhood drawings featured mysterious mermaids and well-dressed mice on grand adventures.
A New England transplant now living in the Deep South, Golus is fascinated by culture and the way it shapes how individuals see the world around them. Her fantasy works are filled with diverse and complex people who are unwillingly united in times of great danger.
Golus aims to write stories that engage, inspire, and reassure readers that the small choices of everyday life matter. In addition to her first two fantasy novels, Escape to Vindor and its sequel, she writes about world-building and what it truly means to be a storymaker. Read her blog at EmilyGolusBooks.com, and explore her fantasy creations here in the World of Vindor.