Literature marketed to an audience of young adults had been around long before John Green and the Twilight Saga. Earlier novelists such as Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling – even J.R.R Tolkien – created worlds of enormous imagination and adventure, aiming to capture the excitement and possibility of youth. Mary Owen notes that even literary classics such as The Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies were not initially marketed to a young adult audience, but were subsequently claimed by them as classics.
Perhaps the most well-known and treasured series in the bracket of young adult fiction is J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series (you’ve probably heard of it, right?). Rowling, especially with her fifth novel in the H.P series, The Order of the Phoenix, had an influence on author Emily Sowden growing up. Now Sowden is preparing to release her own debut novel in the young adult fiction genre.
We sat with Sowden to discuss her debut, what inspired her to create the fantasy world that it inhabits, and her plans for the future of her career and the genre.
Firstly, hi! Introduce yourself and tell us when your debut novel Trapped in Silver will be released, what genre it is and what publisher it will be released through.
Hi! As you can tell from the (potential) title, I’m Emily, a twenty-something female with a deep love of writing, reading, gaming, and tea. My debut novel, Trapped in Silver, the first in The Eldryn Chronicles, is a YA fantasy novel coming out with Oftomes Publishing on the 7th February 2017.
Tell us a little about the story of the book, its characters and its setting/locations Trapped in Silver follows the story of a sparky young woman, Ava, as she’s hunted by hideous, evil creatures called Berserkers after a chance meeting with a strange young man, Ethan. Forced out of her somewhat normal life and into an unfamiliar land full of impossible things, Ava helps her new-found friends in an age-old war to unravel deadly mysteries in an attempt to defeat the leader of the Berserkers who hunts her, Stephan.
The characters have a variety of colourful personalities, through kind hearts, sharp tongues, and hot tempers. As for the setting, TiS takes place in Vremia – as do the other two books coming. Vremia is entirely fictional, developed through years of daydreaming, so references to any actual places are totally coincidental (and super cool). It’s a land of magic, monsters, and a little mayhem.
Is the novel complete High-Fantasy or does its narrative adhere, in parts, to our own world? TiS is definitely high fantasy, though I actually didn’t realise how detailed it was going to be at first. As I’d mentioned above, the entire world of Vremia came straight out of the darkest corners of my mind; over the years its layers built up as the books was re-written and re-planned and voila. It’s good fun. Of course, with this being a full land with different cultures, religions, and lots of names, I’ve provided a good reference on my website for anyone who needs a little guide/glossary of terms.
What were your inspirations for Trapped in Silver and what are your general personal influences when it comes to writing? What sort of things motivated you to write this novel?
I wouldn’t say I’ve got any one inspiration in particular for anything. I’ve been a big fan of make-believe since I can remember. My influences come from massively random places, whether it’s from old fairy-tales such as those from The Brothers Grimm, Celtic and Nordic mythology, or just images I’ve stumbled upon. Pinterest, I admit, is a bit of an obsession now I’ve started using it properly.
As for motivation, I actually started writing the book back in 2008 during my dreaded Biology AS lessons. I wasn’t very good at it and so I used writing as a bit of an escape – I’ve never liked wasting time. Needless to say I failed Biology, but discovered a wonderful, new passion I didn’t know I had. Plus, it’s fun to make a world and to watch its characters grow. If I could draw I would’ve painted the place a thousand times over by now.
What made you choose Young Adults as a primary audience to write the book for? Is Trapped in Silver something you would have not been able to put down when you were younger?
When I write I toe the line between YA and NA naturally, I guess because it’s mostly all I read outside of the occasional horror book, historical, and oriental fiction. If young-adult Emily picked up this book I’m pretty sure she would’ve enjoyed it, especially since adult Emily likes it a fair bit, even after so many hours and sleepless nights.
Are there aspects of the story and its characters that can attract other – maybe older – readers to it? Something that they can relate to themselves?
Absolutely! The industry recommends a book should be put in a certain age group/genre, when realistically a person reads what they want to. I’ve had feedback from a bunch of different people, different ages, both male and female, and I’m proud to think that TiS isn’t too young or too old for anyone. There’s action, horror, fantasy, a little romance, and humour buried in the pages that I haven’t tailored to a particular audience. If you like it that’s cool; if not, that’s cool too.
In terms of relating to the characters, I’ve done my best in making them believable. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, fears, habits, aspirations, and their ages range from somewhat young to ancient…because, y’know, fantasy.
As you’re the News Editor for PocketGamer and contribute to GameSpew, has the narrative and aesthetic choices of video games had an influence on Trapped in Silver?
Probably yes and no. My favourite games join the band of inspiration but I wouldn’t say they’ve been an undeniable influence by themselves. As video games are massively about the gameplay experience, they tend not to have tremendously deep storylines – hence why video game movies tend to flop a little. However, rather than the games themselves, believe it or not, I take major inspiration from video game concept art. Seriously, the stuff is just magical, and some of my favourite books on the shelf are stuffed full of the stuff.
What are your current plans for the future of the series and your career in general? What do you want your audience to take away from Trapped in Silver?
Unbeknownst to a fair few people, Trapped in Silver is actually the first book of a trilogy, The Eldryn Chronicles. In book two of the series we’ll be seeing more places within Vremia, we’ll meet new people, experience new perils, monsters, and magic, and hopefully get to the bottom of a few unanswered questions from book one…before planting more in your heads for book three of course, muahaha. We’ll also be delving more into our existing characters we didn’t have a chance to talk to all that much in the first book.
Outside of my work for Pocket Gamer I’m currently perfecting book two and starting on a super-secret project, which probably isn’t that secret if anyone follows my Twitter or Instagram. I’d love to be able to write for living for as long as I can and adore working in the games industry. Hopefully I’ll be able to write books for a good while yet, but I’d love someday to give scriptwriting a professional go. I studied it at university but haven’t yet had the chance to pursue it further.
Mainly, I’d love people to enjoy TiS and my future works as they are. I know I don’t compare to the industry’s greats, but I do love giving people the chance of distraction if they’re having a crappy day. Books to me are an escape, especially when I’m feeling sad or run-down, and the idea of helping someone put their mind elsewhere for an hour or two makes me extremely happy.
Lastly, three favourite authors and favourite literary works?
Kristin Cashore – Graceling
J.K. Rowling – Order of the Phoenix
Sarah J. Maas – Throne of Glass
(Honorary mention: Brothers Grimm and their bloody disturbing tales of woe)
Thank you so much!
You’re welcome! Sorry some of the answers were so long. There’s almost too much swirling around in my head most of the time, huuuuuuum.
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