Escape to Vindor by Emily Golus: Author Interview
About the Book
Book: Escape to Vindor
Author: Emily Golus
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: December 1, 2017
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?Click here for your copy.
Do you end up doing research for every book?
Oh, tons of it. Vindor may be fantasy, but the more grounded it is in real-world physics and history, the more vivid it becomes. A few of the things I researched for Escape to Vindor include:
- How did refugees in ancient underground cities cook their food?
- Which animals were superstitious Anglo-Saxons most afraid of?
- Can you grow crops in artificial light?
- What happens when fog freezes?
- What is the world’s oldest tree?
- How does bioluminescence work?
- What is that terrible calm phase just before a tsunami like?
I also researched lots of mundane stuff about clothing and traveling speeds and moon phases. Thankfully, I love researching and learning new things, so few topics are boring to me.
How do you develop your characters? Do you use character charts?
My main characters are often the first element of a story to come to me, so by the time I go to jot my story notes down, I’ve got a pretty good idea of who they are and what they want. I don’t use a formal character chart, and I’m really not so much interested in their eye color, hair color, and so on as I am on what their inner emotional map looks like. What do they want most, and why do they want it so badly? What boundaries will they cross to get it? What are they most afraid of?
Sometimes a character is just not working out in the story, and so I’ll re-build them in a more systematic way. Occasionally I’ll use a personality system such as the Myers-Briggs, but only to fill in a few details.
Typically I pit the character’s best qualities (e.g. Nikterra’s loyalty, courage, and self-sacrifice) against his or her most debilitating vices (e.g. Nikterra’s arrogance). A hero character eventually overcomes their vices, while a villain (despite any admirable traits) lets their vices prevail.
What is the best thing writing makes you feel?
You know when you’re driving fast and you hit a dip in the road? For moment your car lifts off the ground and you get that giddy lurch in your stomach.
My best scenes are those that have some sort of twist or surprise that give me that “giddy lurch” when I re-read them later. They don’t come often—after all, it’s hard to surprise yourself after you’re already written the scene—but when they do, I know I’ve done something right that will delight the reader.
When you’re feeling down in the dumps, what book do you read because it makes you feel better?
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, and its lyrical storytelling style is very soothing. But it also has a note of profound and beautiful sadness throughout—so it’s not so much of an escape but a reminder that sad things can also be redemptive.
Do you think you have any writing quirks?
I can brainstorm and play with ideas and jot things down all day—but when I go to write an actual scene, I HAVE to have an outline. I can’t write dialogue or descriptions or anything unless I know 100% what the next scene is going to be about. It’s like if I don’t know where
About the Author
Emily Golus has been dreaming up fantasy worlds since before she could write her name. A New England transplant now living in the Deep South, she is fascinated by culture and the way it shapes how individuals see the world. Golus aims to create stories that engage, inspire, and reassure readers that the small choices of everyday life matter.
Her first novel, Escape to Vindor, debuted in 2017 and won the Selah Award for young adult fiction. Its sequel, Mists of Paracosmia, released in April 2019.
Golus lives in Upstate South Carolina with her woodworking husband, an awkward cat, and the world’s most talkative baby.
More from Emily
In Escape to Vindor, teen Megan Bradshaw spends nearly every quiet moment she has in a world of her own imagination. Writing this part of Megan’s story came naturally to me, because that was the way I spent my adolescence, too.
While other girls were thinking about—I don’t know what they were thinking about, actually. Boys, maybe?—I was creating epic melodramas about rival mermaid queens or magical rainforest civilizations. The world of my imagination filled my quiet life with vivid technicolor.
My stories also helped me survive. Worldbuilding was a welcome escape from my ever-growing list of fears.
See, I was the extra-good girl, the one who followed every rule to a T, always giving a hundred and ten percent. Few people suspected I did all of this not because I had a lot of drive and confidence, but because I thought I had to be extra-perfect in order to be loved—by people, and by God. I had a deep-seated terror of making one little mistake, losing my way, and being abandoned forever.
The world of Vindor started out as a private daydream, a way for me to work through my anxieties. But as I grew, I discovered something amazing—and the story took an unexpected turn.
I wrote Escape to Vindor for the dreamers, the bookworms, and anyone who enjoys dazzling new worlds. More importantly, I wrote it for the quiet ones who struggle without anyone knowing, who need to hear: You are seen, you are known, and you are loved.