Boo! Halloween's almost here, and at Pixelberry, we're celebrating with new spooky and spellbinding stories. On Wednesday, The Elementalists launched with its first chapter. Now that Chapter 2 is out as well, let's chat with The Elementalists writers... But make sure you've played Chapter 2 first!
I know you can't spell out everything that happens in The Elementalists, but can you tell us a little bit about it?
Chelsa: This project has been a dream of mine ever since I started working at Pixelberry two years ago, and it's still hard to believe they actually let me take the reins on this one. I won't spoil anything, but I can tell you that the whole team - writers, art, QA, everyone involved - put many, MANY long hours and their blood, sweat, and tears into this project. So basically, if you don't like it, I'll cry.
Maya: Well, if you've ever dreamed of being sucked through a portal and spit out at a magickal university, your dreams are about to come true! Essentially, you're pulled into a world you don't believe you can be a part of at first, but it doesn't take long for your powers to start revealing themselves. But if you didn't know you could do magick, what other mysteries about you have been hiding just beneath the surface?
The Elementalists is our newest fantasy story. What about this fantastical world are you most excited for players to encounter?
Chelsa: We've got a lot of new features and art in this book that I'm very excited to show off to players! The cool spell graphics and amazing new backgrounds are just the tip of the iceberg. And of course, learning spells...
Maya: Magick! Magick in The Elementalists feels so welcoming to me. The friends you meet are so excited to introduce you to the world, and there's something wonderfully intuitive about the magickal system we've created...
Emi: Honestly, I think I'm most excited for readers to meet the main cast and watch them grow. Every good fantasy has a core group of friends fighting for what they believe in, and I hope players fall in love with ours as much as we have.
How did you tackle worldbuilding for The Elementalists? What was the inspiration for the element attunement system?
Chelsa: This is definitely something I've spent a loooong time thinking about (see question 1). I wanted to create something familiar, with all of the elements that fantasy fans love about a fantasy school book, while also creating something that feels entirely new. This book is a frankenstein of things that I love, things that got the team excited while we were brainstorming, and things that we thought the fans would go crazy over. One of the first things that I decided was that Penderghast would be set in our world, current day, but hidden. The Attuned understand technology, are involved in Attuneless politics, and live alongside the Attuneless -- though of course, they still have to keep magick a secret to maintain the status quo. It's the very best of both worlds!
Maya: We wanted to create something familiar and accessible, but not wholly done before, so we talked a lot about things we've seen in fantasy that we enjoy, as well as things we wished to see. I think this world is so dear to us because it's an amalgam of so many things we cherish, imbued with our own magickal spark.
Jessica: So when I was a wee child attending Chinese school (shoutout to all the Asian American kids who had to go to Saturday school!), I learned that Chinese words all have core components called 'bushou' -- wood, heart, power, etc. During Elementalists brainstorms, we riffed on the premise of having a core something as the base for creating meaning, or in our case, magick. We settled on the classical elements as the foundation, and threw a few of our own into the mix as well. To perform magick, you have to channel the elements, and of course, everyone has an affinity to one or two -- kind of like having a college major, but also general education requirements!
Emi: While building the Attunement quiz, I spent a lot of time delving into the history and uses of elements in different cultures... You should see the number of research docs I made! I wanted the Attunements to feel linked to the classical elements, but to also have their own unique spin. We spent a couple brainstorms figuring out the quiz answers and how they related to their elements. We tried to create a quiz that players could answer honestly, without necessarily guessing which answer is linked to which Attunement.
And of course, what's your attunement?
Chelsa: Air-Att 4 life!! (I am also a libra, so it's very fitting.)
Emi: I'm a Metal-Att! Let me make a detailed and organized plan to tackle any challenge!
Maya: I was expecting to be an Earth-Att, but was pleasantly surprised to find out I'm a Wood-Att instead!
Jessica: Earth, which is weirdly fitting for me. I feel called out.
Do you have a favorite character in The Elementalists? Which character do you relate to the most?
Chelsa: My absolute favorite character to write is... one that I can't talk about yet! But aside from CHARACTER NAME REDACTED, it's definitely Beckett. He's just such a pain, and I love writing people who are difficult to get along with.
Emi: Aster is my girl! I love how excited and eager she is to learn about the world. I just want to give her a big hug. As for character I relate to the most, probably Beckett. I was 100% that over-achiever in school who was always showing off.
Maya: My favorites to write are hands down Zeph and Beckett. They seem so different, but neither are as put together as they'd like you to believe (#relatable). Though there's also something about REDACTED'S personality that speaks to my soul...
Jessica: I can't stick with one fave, so I'll say Shreya and Griffin. Shreya's just a whole lot of fun, and someone I would want to date IRL. And I love seeing Griffin, this chill Sophomore, thrown into the trials and tribulations of all these hapless Freshmen.
Any final tips for readers about to embark on their Penderghast adventure?
Chelsa: You'll have many opportunities to gain new spells throughout the book. My tip is to try to learn them all. You'll never know what a situation will call for...
Emi: Your Attunement will play a role in how you use magick and how you react to the events of the story! I recommend playing to your strengths.
Maya: Watch your back... Danger lurks in the shadows.
Bring on the magick! What's your elemental attunement? Let’s compare notes! And follow along online for sneak peeks of what's next in Choices... a journey back in ancient history!