In this weeks author spotlight, I meet up with Katlynn Brooke to discuss, The Six and the Crystals of Ialana, a young adult, epic fantasy novel.
What is your book about?
The Six and the Crystals of Ialana is the first book in the Ialana Series, and is young adult/near adult fantasy fiction.
Two teenage boys from a small village—Jarah and Adain—discover that they both share the same dreams. The dreams are at first pleasant, but then they take a frightening turn. Blaidd, Adain’s friend, does not share his friend’s dreams. His only dream is to escape his father who spends too much time in the village alehouse.
On one terrifying and unforgettable day, the three boys are kidnapped by Eglog, a vicious recruiter of an ambitious king who needs combatants for his army to support his dreams of conquest. Eglog proceeds to prove to the boys, in his indelible way, that he will stop at nothing to hunt down and brutally kill all army deserters.
The three boys manage to escape with the help of Tristan, a young soldier who is willing to desert his post to help them. Unfortunately, they are all now on the run from Eglog and his men. They flee towards the Ozgoi Mountains. These mountains are a death trap to the unwary, and a harbor for deadly mutant creatures that inhabit its tunnels and caves.
Three girls, Djana, Tegan and Kex also share the dreams, and when they each meet up with the four boys along the way, the travelers must survive an arduous trek through the mountains and beyond.
Along their treacherous journey, they encounter a mysterious shape-shifter, a lost healing crystal, a fabled city ruled by a malevolent overlord, a mutant slave-race, and an island that may or may not even exist. Six of them must remember who they once were, what they once knew, and what their mission was—a mission that was betrayed by one in their midst five hundred years ago, and who may yet betray them once again. And, ultimately, they must also protect the ancient, but lost crystal technology of the ancient race of the Basajaun from the ambitions of a brutal ruler.
Can the Six succeed in their mission, or will history repeat itself?
As the Six embark on a dangerous journey, their lives will be forever changed.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have always enjoyed stories of adventure, danger, and daring. As a child, I grew up on the Enid Blyton’s “The Famous Five” and “The Secret Seven” that all British children are familiar with, and eagerly awaited the next books in the series to emerge. I still seek out books to read that take me back to my own childhood, that same sense of fun and adventure.
I write what I love to read. I think Stephen King said that, and I do too.
There have been many other inspirations along the way, but perhaps my own childhood is my main inspiration. I did not grow up with technology, or even running water. We lived in harmony with nature and faced challenges that would be very different to those most teens face today. I grew up in the African bushveld, far from any town, and life was hard, but it was also fascinating. It prepped me to give a sense of realism to my protagonist’s adventures!
Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?
It is easy to say which character is my favorite. It is Irusan. Irusan is a shape-shifter whose natural form is that of a cat-man. He only shape-shifts when absolutely necessary and doesn’t do it for fun. Irusan is wise, gentle and knowledgeable. He is the “wizard” of my books, and may have been inspired by Gandalph.
My least favorite is so much more difficult to decide upon. All my characters are “real” to me, and all have their shortcomings to a degree. Even the most hateful characters I am not able to say I dislike, because they all play important roles. So I would have to go with the most challenging: Adain. Adain is rather bland, and it was a constant struggle to find his place in the Six. He is not a natural leader, but a follower. In a group of young people, he tends to fade into the background. If he was a Star Trek character he’d be considered dispensable, but, ultimately, Adain has as much a role to play in the unfolding of the plot as any other character.
What draws you to this genre? Do you write in any other genre?
Again, it is the sense of fun and adventure in Fantasy that keeps me hooked. In other genres one has to adhere to certain immutable laws of physics, but not with Fantasy. However, I do give the magical elements in my books at least a grounding in reality. It is possible to write about the impossible in a way that makes sense—I love that.
I have written another novel that is loosely defined as historical literature. It was my first book and was inspired by my mother’s diaries when she worked on an African Hospital Mission during World War 2. While it is not her story, I drew on her diaries for ideas and inspiration. She is now deceased, but she would have loved to know that I wrote a book inspired by her!
Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?
Oh you can definitely expect more! The second in the series, The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana, is already published, and I am getting ready to publish a third, Anwyn of Ialana. It should be available sometime in 2016. As long as I am able to sit in front of my computer, I will be able to write. I never run out of ideas, and I only wished I had started earlier in my life, but it’s never too late. Now, I have learned not to allow anything to get in the way of my writing.
Tell me about you and what drew you to writing? Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?
I think most writers, and this is true for me too, are primarily readers. We read anything. I used to read the labels on the cans in my mother’s pantry if I ran out of reading matter. I read before I started school. It is a natural step from prolific reading to writing.
The authors (besides the previously mentioned Blyton) who inspired me the most to write, are so many, but I’ll try to pick out the best.
Stephen King. I have read all his books on writing, and his humor and same sense of “anything is possible” coincides with mine. I can really relate to him as an author, even though our genres are different.
Tolkien. The magic in his books is palpable. I want to be Tolkien when I grow up. I can’t get enough of his books. I have read them all countless times.
Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel?
Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien. It is the blueprint for all fantasy today, and while I am not a Tolkien copy-cat, I want to impart the same sense of magic and place as he did.
Have you written other books we should know about?
Talk to the Moon is the first novel I wrote, and was inspired by my mother’s diaries during WW2 in Africa. It is completely different to anything I am writing now, but I think it’s still a great story.
If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?
It is hard work to get your book noticed by anyone, and those of us who go it alone are perhaps certifiably insane, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not making any money out of it. I think most writers are driven by the need to write, rather than what we’ll get out of it later. We’ll write sitting under a bridge in a crate if we have to, but we’ll always write. Don’t expect instant success. Expect discouragement, frustration and moments of absolute despair. But keep writing.
Where can we find your book?
Where can we find out more about you?