Brandie June is joining us today to talk about her novel, Gold Spun. Here’s the publisher’s description:
If Nor can’t spin gold, she can always spin lies.
When seventeen-year-old Nor rescues a captured faerie in the woods, he gifts her with a magical golden thread she can use to summon him for a favor. Instead, Nor uses it for a con-to convince villagers to buy straw that can be transformed into gold. Her trick works a little too well, attracting the suspicion of Prince Casper, who hates nobody more than a liar. Intent on punishing Nor, he demands that she spin a room of straw into gold and as her reward, he will marry her. Should she refuse or fail, the consequences will be dire. Desperate for help, Nor summons the faerie’s aid, launching a complicated dance as she must navigate between her growing feelings for both the prince and faerie boy and who she herself wishes to become.
What’s Brandies’s favorite bit?
I love a good fantasy map. And I was super excited that artist Rebecca Farrin was going to turn the rough sketch I made (mostly to make sure I remembered where everything was when I was writing) into a beautiful, hand-inked, illustrated map. And though I made up the lands in Gold Spun, I did so with the idea that the time period was loosely late medieval/early renaissance in terms of dress and technology. So, when I discussed how the map would look with my publisher, it was important that the map had the right aesthetic, not only because that would be visually appealing, but because it would help add to the story
Several years ago, I went to an art exhibit at the Getty on the bestiary, a type of medieval book that describes the beasts of the world. The stylized, vibrant art of unicorns, dragons, and other creatures stuck with me. The medieval world felt so much more magical than our modern world, where animals can be accurately documented with photography. I wanted the Gold Spun map to include more of the fantastical, monsters that were only known from village rumors and hearsay legends.
I am fascinated by what inaccuracies in medieval art say about people’s perception of the world at that time. Maps drift from charted lands into unexplored areas, and fact and legend would meet on the page. Known roads and cities in one area, and mythical beasts and monsters in the unknown portions, serving as a warning not to stray into such areas, lest you be eaten by some terrible creature. I wanted that mix of cartography and fear-based lore to manifest on my map.
To the humans in Gold Spun, faeries are mysterious creatures, dangerous and unknown. Warnings are posted in the city in the form of flyers of the queen of the faeries, portrayed as a Medusa-like demon. When my protagonist, Nor, meets the faerie Pel first time, she debates fleeing or turning him in for the bounty that is promised. Only later does she decide to aid him.
While Nor eventually questions the prejudices against the fay, I wanted a map that would represent the fear humans have of the fay, which is really a fear of the unknown. The human-inhabited lands have roads, borders, and cities, but the fay land of Magnomel is intentionally left devoid of such markers, instead filled with ominous warnings in the forms of foreboding-looking trees and mythical monsters.
To add to the medieval flavor of the world, I provided Rebecca with a variety of medieval illustrations of monstrous creatures. If you study the map, you can find a few of them, such as a three-headed monster creeping out from the ocean.
Brandie June spent most of her childhood onstage or reading, as both activities let her live in fantastic stories. She moved to Los Angeles to study acting at UCLA, and eventually branched out into costume design and playwriting. While she spends most of her free time writing, she will still take any excuse to play dress-up, especially if it involves wearing a crown. She happily promotes more stories as a marketing director for kids’ films and anime. When not writing or marketing, she can often be found doing aerial arts, playing board games, drinking too much espresso, and coming up with new art projects. She lives with her husband, two spoiled rescue pups, a spoiled cat, six fish tanks, and five bookshelves. You can find out more about her at www.brandiejune.com and follow her @brandiejune.