The Melding of Geology and Fantasy
Posted by Literary Titan
The Monster talks about The Windkeeper with author, Emily Schroeder. We discuss how her passion for geology, fantasy, and art all came together in one book.
The magic in The Windkeeper gracefully combines chemistry, geology and fantasy in a way that feels natural. What was your approach on this staple of fantasy novels?
I actually majored in geology in college. The more I studied the natural processes of this crazy earth, the more I realized science almost had a magic of its own without me adding anything to it. I thought it would be amazing if we could tap into that magic. The melding of geology and fantasy felt quite natural to me, almost as if it were meant to be. I wanted to create a world that would engage readers, get them excited, and at the same time teach them a little about the world of geology and the rocks I love so much—in a fun way of course!
The cover for this book is interesting. How did you create the cover for The Windkeeper?
Aside from writing, another hobby of mine is painting. I did the cover with watercolor paint, which is my medium of choice. As for the content, I wanted my book to look as magical and inspiring on the outside as it felt on the inside. Hopefully that is the case! When I buy a book (which happens frequently), a big selling point for me is a beautiful cover. Needless to say, I am saddened by the barren covers of currently popular books. There’s almost no detailed artwork anymore. I wanted The Windkeeper to be on a level with some of my favorite old fantasy novels (which all happen to have gorgeous covers). Maybe it’s a dated thing to do, but it makes me happy!
Where did the idea for this book come from and how did it develop while writing the story?
The whole idea for this book is based around two things: the marlen, and the notion that science is magic. I decided elemental magic was the best base to use for the magic system, seeing as it’s the closest to nature already. I already talked a bit about the magic in the previous questions, so I’ll focus on the marlen here. It all started when I was brainstorming for a series of paintings that mixed different dog breeds with different birds. Those paintings, and many others, can be found on my blog. Then I thought about what the ancestors of those canine-avian creatures would be, and essentially came up with the marlen (for those who haven’t read the book, marlens are part wolf, part raptor). This series was actually written with a time leap in mind, where the stories from the beginning books become the legends for characters in future books.
Then, essentially, I began weaving the story around the focal point of the marlen. They are in hiding. Why? Why is it crucial to get them back? It all kind of fell together of its own accord. That’s how a lot of the book unfolded, honestly. I was just as surprised as everyone else when an ebony tower sprang out of a frozen wasteland! A lot of times I felt like the story was telling itself and I was merely recording what it wanted to say.
Morgan is a woman with strength and grit. What do you think makes her a valuable and worthy heroine?
Morgan is a spirited girl who holds fast to her ideals of freedom and love. I think most people can, or at least want to, relate to someone like that. She starts out as a typical, slightly immature teenager who doesn’t exactly know who she is going to be yet, but is suddenly thrust into a situation that demands unwavering dedication. She is in a unique situation because she is still mostly a child, but is now given a responsibility even an adult might shy from. How she handles that, I think, is what makes her a truly worthy heroine. Over the course of the book, Morgan has to face several confrontations that test her maturity and integrity. She handles each situation with a mixture of childish boldness and adult logic. This utilization of different levels of maturity is often why she is able to succeed where others might fail because of holding back for one reason or another. She grows as the book progresses, and at the end, her experiences have shaped her into a strong young woman. However, she still always has room for more growth, as do we all.