Exploring my Inspiration for the Windsnap World by Liz Kessler
When I started writing my first Emily Windsnap book, over ten years ago, I had no vision of the future for this book. I was living on a narrowboat on the canal, staring into space and thinking of ideas. (This is still a large part of my creative process nowadays, by the way.) I scribbled down some ideas, played with words, wrote a poem, and then finally turned it into a book.
The outcome of all of this resulted, a couple of years later, in the publication of The Tail of Emily Windsnap. My first adventure with Emily. Now, more than a decade later, I am delighted that I still get to have adventures with Emily. And I’m even more delighted that so many young readers want to join me and Emily on these adventures.
As someone who lives by the sea, and who loves the mysteries and the beauty of the ocean, there are so many things that inspire me. In my first book, it was the idea of mermaids and the sea itself.
In the second book of the series, Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep, it was the Bermuda Triangle that caught my attention. What could be more inspiring than a place where people, boats and ships have mysteriously disappeared, leaving no trace?
Book three of the series, Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist, was inspired by a castle in a beautiful part of Cornwall. The castle is on a tiny island which is cut off from the mainland at high tide, but which you can walk across to when the tide is out. The idea of a magical castle that might come and go like this – especially one that is often shrouded in mist – ignited my imagination.
The fourth book of the series, Emily Windsnap and the Siren’s Secret, was inspired by some beautiful caves that I discovered whilst travelling in a campervan through Spain. The caves were huge and deep and beautiful, and they made me wonder what or who might live – or have lived – in such a place.
For the fifth book, Emily Windsnap and the Land of the Midnight Sun, I revisited an idea that I had been thinking about for quite some time. In the back of my mind, I had often wondered what might happen if I took my mermaids to the Arctic. Book five of Emily’s series gave me my answer to this question.
And so to the sixth book in the series, Emily Windsnap and the Ship of Lost Souls. Again, this one was inspired by an idea that had long been simmering in the far reaches of my mind: the lost city of Atlantis.
For someone who writes about mermaids and about the magic and the mysteries of the sea, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before I turned my attention to the myth that is known as Atlantis. Many people have their own ideas about what Atlantis is, and where it is. Just like with the Bermuda Triangle, no one can claim to know as absolute fact what the true story is. Which means we are all free to explore what it might be. And that is the biggest treat you can give to a writer!
And so, I allowed myself to play with ideas, to ask ‘What if?’ To explore questions, answers and fantasies and see where they took me. Sadly, a friend of mine passed away during the time I was creating this book, and thinking about her added even more thoughts and more depth to what I was already thinking about in terms of life, death and everything that may lie in between. The book is dedicated to this friend.
Despite the sadness that I felt during some of this time, this was still me writing it, and it was still Emily Windsnap experiencing it, and so it was never going to get too dark or too heavy. I do think that this book perhaps explores a slightly deeper layer of the realms of the Windsnap world than I have explored before – but I think Emily herself was ready to take on what turns out to be her greatest challenge and some of the scariest obstacles that she has had to face yet.
Like all the books in the series, the process of writing it was almost entirely a case of adventure, exploration and fun.
I hope that Emily’s fans will have just as much fun reading it!
Liz Kessler has written fifteen books for children and young adults. Her latest book, Emily Windsnap and the Ship of Lost Souls, is out in August this year. It is the sixth in the Emily Windsnap series, which has sold over four million copies worldwide, been translated into twenty-five languages and appeared on the NewYork Times bestseller list.