Sofi Croft is the author of “Indigo’s Dragon,” a MG/teen fantasy series, and “Eidolon,” a YA paranormal trilogy. The following is a complete transcript of her interview with Cracking the Cover for “Indigo’s Dragon.”
Why do you write?
Ideas for stories are always flying around inside my head. I write to find out what happens in the stories!
Lots of different things set my imagination running; the beautiful landscape I live in, the books I read, watching wildlife and people. Characters and stories form in my mind and if I don’t write them down they stay in my thoughts in a perpetual state of flux. I find myself wondering what a character would do in a given situation, or how a particular story might end. It isn’t until I write the story down that things become clear.
Once I start writing a story I can become quite obsessive, I find I have to finish it, like when you’re reading a good book and race to get to the end, I am driven to the end of my story to find out what happens. I often feel like the story is writing itself.
Why specifically for young readers?
I don’t really think of my stories as being specifically for young readers, I just think of them as stories! Similarly, I almost exclusively read books that are categorised as children’s or young adult fiction, but I just think of them as books!
Children’s books contain fantastic stories for all ages, and that is what I love and what I aim to produce. I like books that can be enjoyed by parents and children together, by children on their own, or by adults like me who just love a good story!
Where did the idea of “Indigo’s Dragon” come from?
Like most of my story ideas, Indigo’s Dragon was rooted in a few different places. I wrote it when my children were very young and my son in particular was obsessed with dragons and monsters. He loved them, and to him they were as real as the sheep and cows in our valley. Every time we went for a walk he would find cockatrice nests and dragon caves.
Another big inspiration for the book was the Polish folk tale The Dragon of Krakow. Reading it set off my imagination, and acted as a starting point. I took that story and thought what if … and ended up with the idea of Indigo’s grandfather’s story. This combined with my children’s passion for mythical creatures to create Indigo’s story.
Did you always plan it as a trilogy?
I had written poems and short stories before, but Indigo’s Dragon was my first novel. Initially I had no idea if I would even get to the end of it, let alone if it would ever be published. When I did reach the end of Indigo’s story, I was aware he would have many more adventures, but I wasn’t sure if I would write them as there are so many other stories in my head!
When I was offered a contract for Indigo’s Dragon, Accent Press asked if I would like to write sequels as they were interested in a series. Because I did have ideas for Indigo’s further adventures I jumped at the chance. I have written two more, Indigo’s Demons and Indigo’s Deep, and have ideas for at least another two stories involving Indigo, so perhaps I will get around to writing even more!
All the creatures in the Indigo books are rooted in a mixture of mythology and biology. I have a great passion for the wonders of the natural world, and wanted the creatures, although fantastic, to seem real. A huge variety of incredible life forms has existed, and still exists, on our planet, and I wanted the story to reflect that.
Some of the creatures are lifted straight from mythology, such as the cockatrice and the hydra. Others are taken from mythology but re-imagined, such as the magpie-cat which is a bird mammal hybrid inspired by griffins. A few are real creatures with a mythological twist, such as the cyclops marmot or the kraken, which is really just a large cephalopod. Plenty of real animals also make an appearance, such as weasels, deer and wolves.
Indigo’s Demons borrows many creatures from Slavic mythology, and Indigo’s Deep is set in the ocean and uses creatures inspired by drawings of sea monsters found on Olaus Magnus’s Carta Marina (a map of Northern Europe published in 1539), and also various accounts of sightings of sea monsters over the years.
What do you hope readers come away from your book with?
A sense of wonder for the natural world, the idea that there are creatures out there we have not discovered yet, and that the fantastic is genuinely possible.
What are you working on now?
I love the book I am working on at the moment. It is inspired by the Russian folklore character Baba Yaga, aspects of Slavic mythology and spirituality, and the very real struggles of young people to make friends and have the courage to be themselves.
I am also working with my publisher on the final edits of Eidolon, a novel for older readers about ghosts and supernatural powers. It is the first in a trilogy and will be published by Accent Press on August 11th either under the name Sofi Croft or Sofi Black.
Is there a book from your own childhood that still resonates with you?
I loved Anne of Green Gables and The Hobbit as a child and they are the comfort reads I return to when I need a literary hug. I think books we read in childhood often affect us deeply. I still carry with me characters from Tove Jansson’s The Moomins and Kipling’s Kim and The Jungle Book decades after reading the books. I also read a great deal of dystopic fiction in my teens that stayed with me, books like 1984 by George Orwell, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
Is there anything else you want readers to know?
Indigo’s Dragon is a children’s fantasy novel but I believe it could be enjoyed by readers of any age with a love of adventure, mystery, monsters and dragons. I really hope you enjoy reading it, especially the mind bending twist at the end!