Today I’m thrilled to be introducing Emily Mundell, a fellow young author whose first published book, The Sorceress and the Squid, came out earlier this month. I’m excited to pick up a copy of this hilarious-sounding novel and I hope you will be too!
In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard. On their journey they face challenges and revelations that will ultimately decide not only their own fates, but the fate of all of Perth.
Can you tell us a bit about your book, The Sorceress and the Squid?
The Sorceress and the Squid is a story that takes a classic fairy-tale with a twist. The story will seem familiar – a magical character going on a quest across a strange fantasy world – but elements of the plot are wholly unique and almost ridiculous (a warrior being turned into a squid for instance) that keep the reader intrigued throughout the book’s journey. Estrella is the main protagonist, a sorceress with a troubled and lonely past, seeking retribution against the humankind who are invaded her people’s homes. Jalen is a human warrior with a strange, secretive history. When his and Estrella’s paths collide, both their lives take a dramatic turn towards something life-changing and world-changing. The story is small and personal, exploring themes of honesty, trust, and sacrifice.
What part of the story came to you first?
Unsurprisingly, it was the idea for a warrior squid (originally a ninja squid) that came to me first. The story of the book’s beginning is quite an interesting one. My then-not-boyfriend-now-fiance and I were having one of our stranger conversations. I’m not even sure how we got onto the topic. We were having a discussion as though he was a secret ninja squid and from that conversation, I was inspired (eventually many months later) to pen The Sorceress and the Squid.
How much planning did you do before you started The Sorceress and the Squid?
MUCH less than I had for my previous novel! Granted, the story was on a much smaller scale but I probably could have saved myself a lot of editing later. I originally planned for ten chapters and a slightly different story, something more simplistic, but as I wrote the world kept on growing and growing in my imagination and the story ran away with itself, creating something much bigger than I intended. I loved the process though. It was interesting and inspiring and I thoroughly enjoyed writing about my characters as I did.
What was your biggest challenge in working on The Sorceress and the Squid?
My biggest challenge was probably as I passed my original ten chapter mark and kept bumping it up and up until I got to nearly twenty chapters – twice as much as originally planned! The sudden expansion of story line left me a little lost for a good chunk of my writing time, but I am glad with how it turned out in the end. I am completely happy with the final result.
What was your favourite part of writing The Sorceress and the Squid?
My favourite part was writing about Estrella and Jalen. Both characters completely captured my heart and I still wish I had more story to write – just so I could learn more about them! They really made the book come alive to me and as I unravelled their pasts and saw what they were willing to do for the other, I fell in love with them more. They are some of my favorite characters that I’ve yet written.
If you could sit down for lunch with any author, dead or alive, who would it be & why?
Hmm, this is a very hard question. My first response is to say either JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis, they are my role models in writing – especially fantasy – and are both very influential and important to me. If I had to pick just one, I would have to choose CS Lewis I think. His ideas about life and the world and his story crafting constantly challenges my imagination and intellect. I would love the opportunity to sit with him and listen to his ideas, even for just a few minutes. It would be a dream come true.
What are you working on next?
My next publishing venture is a very different novel called Faithless. It is a dystopia-set story in a fictional land centering around a woman named Saagar whose husband was a secret terrorist who murdered her family and bombed her city – leaving her badly scarred emotionally and physically. The story takes place seven years after this event when he has been arrested and she is brought in to properly identify him. I completed the first draft last year and am hoping to get into my editing stages this fall and look at publishing from there. I have a whole myriad of other projects and plot bunnies but I hope to put this book out into the world next.
Emily Mundell is a 19 year old author, artist, horsewoman and lover of the wonders of the wide world. She hails from the Great White North of Canada and has spent her life growing up in the heart of rural Alberta in a close-knit farming community – though she has often entertained fantasies of inhabiting the Shire. Writing is her true passion – though horses and art take a close second. With fantasy as her primary genre, Emily has been writing stories since the tender age of eight when she finished her first “book.” She is currently working to complete her Creative Writing Certificate through the University of Calgary. An avid bookworm, true country-mouse, and unconventional tree-climber, Emily can usually be found on a horse, working on one of her half-dozen projects, chasing a loose cow, or being swept off her feet by the man she calls her own personal “hobbit.”