A child wanders, puzzled, in a fantastic world. “Fantastic” in the literal sense: “conceived or seemingly conceived by unrestrained fancy,” says Merriam-Webster. This world is not necessarily a perfect escape to sunshine and rainbows. There are monsters and darkness in here, and our title protagonist Emi finds herself with a multitude of questions that may not be answerable. Most of all, she fears losing a loved one, which is indeed a great darkness to face (especially for a child’s still-developing mind). There’s no question, however, about the creativity and scope of Ian Primeaux’s own unrestrained imagination.
The author carefully and gently coaxes out thought-provoking themes that are heavy with emotional intensity. Fundamentally, though, a message of hope emanates from Emi. Ian Primeaux reveals more about the conceptualization and imagery to us below, and invites his readers to embrace the light at the end of the tunnel when they close the pages on his words. Well, close them temporarily … because he has inspiration and aspiration galore! Read our review of Emi here.
Q: What is the underlying message of your book?
A: At its core, this series focuses on a child learning to deal with loss as she grows up. The first book sees Emi lost in a strange magical land searching for a way back home in fear of never seeing her father again. I wanted the beginning of the series to show a scared child who, with the help of those around her, learns that nothing is ever promised but dwelling on loss is never a healthy option. I really want younger readers to see this and realize that even when things seem like they aren’t going your way you are still able to focus on what’s ahead.
Q: How is your book like a video game? Any chance that the book could still become a video game?
A: I took a lot of inspiration from RPG stories for specific details in the book. It’s a story about a group of people all with drastically different personalities coming together to fight an evil force. That’s the basic premise from most of the games I played growing up. Whenever I’m writing a section that involves fighting a giant monster I think a lot about games like the Final Fantasy and Tales series. The characters always have to work together to overcome any obstacles and that only strengthens their bond further. If I ever get to a point in life where I have a chance to make this story into a video game I would definitely jump at it.
Q: Your book gets violent in places. How did you discern the level that you thought young readers could handle?
A: There are a lot of fights with monsters and other characters throughout the series and it’s sort of a key element to the progression of the story. I try to not get unnecessarily graphic with details, but in a series that talks about death, it’s going to come up a few times. My main focus is to make sure the image of what is happening on the pages can be envisioned by the reader. I never want to rely on exaggerated violence to get my point across. I feel like the way I execute it now is best for readers twelve and up.
Q: Emi is a very determined, strong little girl. What do you hope readers take away from getting to know her character?
A: More than anything I want this story to help young people who are beginning to experience loss for the first time. It’s something I struggled with and as I continued writing I found it helped me think about it. Writing is really just me talking to myself. I know that for some people the only person they feel comfortable letting things out to is themselves. Hopefully this story and the characters in it can get people to stop and think about more than just the negatives in life.
Q: Can you talk more about the environmental aspects of your plot, such as the dying plants that feature in it?
A: It’s really just another device I use for the theme of death throughout the story. As the series goes on that landscape will change to match the narrative. It really reflects what is going on in the lives of the characters placed in it. As they get further into their journey the state of the land gets worse. It acts as a reminder for the characters of the grim situation they’re in. The reader can think of the land as all the negative happening around them; the party choosing to push forward, despite some hesitation at moments, as the will to continue.
Q: Can you tell us anything about your planned sequels to Emi?
A: I have an unlimited amount of stories I want to tell. Since publishing the first book in September of 2020 I’ve already released the next part of the main series and two digital short stories expanding on some of the characters I felt needed a bit more substance in the first book. I’m learning more and more every day about the way I write and using that to improve. I just started working on my third book, which will be the end of the current story for Emi, but I do plan on revisiting the character in future stories. After this next one, I plan on releasing a few more short stories to touch on characters that I enjoy writing but whose stories will not conclude in the third book. I will always have something to work on. I’d say I have the next four or five years planned out already when it comes to writing. I can’t stop.