Today I welcome back to my blog author Annie Douglass Lima who’s celebrating the release of Book 5 in her Annals of Alasia series, King of Malorn. Besides writing her adventure/fantasy novels, Annie teaches fifth grade. She lives in Taiwan.
Linda Covella: Annie, congratulations on your new release! Before we talk about King of Malorn and the Annals of Alasia series, let’s start at the beginning: When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Annie Douglass Lima: I’ve been writing for as long as I can recall. When I was seven years old, I had a sudden inspiration for what I thought was an amazing story and decided then and there that I was going to write a book and be the world’s youngest published author. I ran to my room in great excitement, found an old notebook and a pencil, and started in. Well, that first little science fiction novel was never actually finished, let alone published, but it got me started. After that, I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t working on at least one book.
LC: What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
ADL: I’m actually a fulltime teacher. While I love my day job, unfortunately it doesn’t leave me with nearly as much time for writing as I’d like. I mostly write on the weekends and during school vacations, plus sometimes in the evenings if I don’t feel too brain-dead after a long day of teaching. My usual writing spot is at my dining room table at home. I always outline my books very thoroughly and plan out my characters in multiple ways before I start drafting. I’ve got to have it all organized in my head before I begin a new book!
LC: Did you read much as a child?
ADL: ALL the time. All my friends knew me as a bookworm. Back in elementary school, I used to read not only at recess, but as I walked around campus. When I was ten years old, my dad told me he was pretty sure I had read more books in my life so far than he had in his.
LC: Please tell us briefly the storyline of the Annals of Alasia series and particularly King of Malorn. What age group are these books for?
ADL: There are five main books in the series so far, but each of them can stand on its own. Each of the first four books deals with events surrounding the same major political incident: the invasion of the kingdom of Alasia by the neighboring kingdom of Malorn. Prince of Alasia begins on the night of the Invasion and describes what happens to twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin after he is forced to flee for his life. In the Enemy’s Service features a girl as the protagonist and tells the story of those who were not able to escape from the Alasian palace when the enemy invaded. Prince of Malorn begins several months earlier and focuses on the Malornian perspective of the events leading up to the Invasion. The Nameless Soldier shows how a young Alasian soldier lives through the Invasion but then has to survive and make a name for himself in enemy-occupied Alasia. In each of the books, main characters from the others make brief appearances and interact with each other at the point where the timeframes and settings overlap.
I also have a short ebook of “interviews” that I conducted with the characters in the other three books. Annals of Alasia: The Collected Interviews is not available on Amazon, but I send a free copy to anyone who signs up for my mailing list (to receive updates when I release new books or occasionally offer them for free).
King of Malorn takes place five years later and features characters from all of the other books, but it’s not necessary to read the others in order to understand the story. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Life as the king’s younger sister should be exciting.
Not for Princess Kalendria. She’s sick of the dissent and of constantly having her family undermined by those who think they could rule Malorn better than King Korram.
Hoping to lighten the mood in the palace, Kalendria plans a ball to celebrate her seventeenth birthday. It doesn’t hurt that their handsome Alasian ally King Jaymin has promised to attend, and she’s been waiting for him to notice her for as long as she can remember.
But unfriendly forces have their own party plans. When Kalendria, Korram, and Jaymin barely survive an assassination attempt, their only recourse is to flee into the wilderness. Tracked by unknown assassins, they must figure out whom they can trust and who is behind the plot. Can Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne – oh, and catch Jaymin’s attention while she’s at it – before they are all killed and war destroys both kingdoms?
The series is designed for teen and preteen readers, but I’ve had readers as young as 7 and as old as 80 tell me they enjoy them. I’ve read all of them to my 5th grade class, and they’re always a hit with the students.
LC: What inspired you to write these stories? How did you come up with the ideas?
ADL: The inspiration for the first one, Prince of Alasia, came from a dream I once had about a prince who was forced to flee from invaders and live in disguise in a poor neighborhood. I wrote the next three books to tell different sides of the same story. King of Malorn came later, to bring all the characters together and show what happens to them a few years after the other events.
LC: As a fantasy writer, you had to create some unusual character and place names. How do you generate those names?
ADL: I don’t consider myself very good at coming up with names, to be honest. It’s usually a struggle. Occasionally they just come to me, but sometimes I create them from variations or combinations of other words or names. There have been times when I’ve described a character or place on Facebook and let my friends give suggestions for names.
LC: How much world building did you do for this series? Did it require research, or did it all come from your imagination?
ADL: Most of it came from my imagination, but I did do some research for a couple of the earlier books. Even though they’re set in a different world, I wanted to make sure it was realistic. Prince of Malorn, in which Prince Korram spends several months in the wilderness, required the most research. I learned all about edible plants in the mountains, how to start a fire without matches, how to fire-harden a handmade spear, and even what grubs taste like!
LC: Who is one of your favorite characters from King of Malorn, one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
ADL: That would probably be Erik. He’s King Jaymin’s bodyguard and close friend, and he prefers to stay in the shadows and out of the spotlight. He comes out of his shell when he and Jaymin are alone, but otherwise he doesn’t talk much – just keeps an eye on everything that’s happening, prepared to leap into action at any hint of danger. In this book (actually, in some late revisions I made long after the first several drafts), Erik ended up stepping forward and showing me more of his personality. Now I know what he longs for, what keeps him awake at night, the feelings he doesn’t share with Jaymin or anyone else. So far, a few early readers have also told me that Erik is their favorite now. Ironically, he wouldn’t like that. Erik hates being noticed!
LC: Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
ADL: Not so much in this series. In my science fiction novel Heartsong, I made the main character, Liz, a serious bookworm like I am. Otherwise, my characters are their own people.
LC: Is King of Malorn the final book in the series, or are more forthcoming?
ADL: Just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve started coming up with ideas for another book in the series. It will probably be the last one, but who knows?
LC: We’ll look forward to that! Thanks again for joining us today, Annie, and best of luck with your new release!
Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and Bible verse coloring and activity books. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.
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