LAURISA REYES is the author of The Celestine Chronicles, a fantasy adventure series for middle grade readers, and is an editor with Hamilton Springs Publishing. She has a B.A. in English/creative writing and is currently pursuing her graduate degree. She has two as yet unfulfilled dreams: to own her own bookstore and star in a Broadway musical. She lives in sunny Southern California with her hubby of 20 years, their 5 children, 6 fish, 4 birds, 2 desert tortoises, 2 bearded dragons, 1 dog, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Here is the description of her upcoming release, Book 2 in the Celestine Chronicles:
Would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee?
What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller?
Laurisa: I was born a storyteller. I wrote my first poem when I was about six and have spent my whole life writing. I was really inspired by my dad who is the best storyteller I know. I got my B.A. in creative writing after which I wrote for magazines and newspapers for more than a decade, but I had always dreamed of writing fiction. My dream came true with The Rock of Ivanore.
Tell us a little about your first novel, The Rock of Ivanore. What led you to write this book?
Laurisa: The Rock of Ivanore is a middle grade high fantasy adventure. Deseret News called it “Lord of the Rings for kids.” In the story, Marcus is an enchanter’s apprentice just can’t get his magic right. Every time he tries to cast a spell, it backfires. His master, Zyll, gives him a gift that helps him hone his skills and gain the self-assurance he needs to succeed in his quest, which is to find the Rock of Ivanore.
After spending more than a decade writing for magazines and newspapers, I decided it was finally time to live my dream and write novels. My oldest son was eight years old at the time and I would tell him bedtime stories. One story was about an enchanter’s apprentice who bungled his magic spells. Each night my son would tell me what he wanted to hear, be it dragons or battles or magic, and I would weave those elements into the story. Eventually I started writing it down. That was six years ago.
I see that the second book in the Celestine Chronicles, The Last Enchanter, is scheduled to release this October. Does it pick up where The Rock of Ivanore leaves off, or is it a completely new adventure?
Laurisa: The Last Enchanter is book 2 in The Celestine Chronicles. Months have passed since Marcus and Kelvin succeeded in their quest to find the Rock of Ivanore. Kelvin is living as royalty in Dokur, and Marcus is studying magic with Zyll. When Fredric is murdered and Kelvin becomes king, Zyll and Marcus head for Dokur in hopes of protecting Kelvin from meeting the same fate, though it quickly becomes apparent that none of them are safe, and Marcus has had disturbing visions of Zyll's death. With the help of his old friends Clovis and Bryn, joined by new friend Lael, a feisty girl in search of her mother, Marcus uncovers a powerful secret that will change the course of his life forever.
Can you pick a favorite character from your series?
Laurisa: I asked my kids that question and they all had different answers. My daughter likes Xerxes, the enchanted walking stick. He has attitude. My son likes Bryn, the shape-shifting Groc who wishes he was human. I am particularly fond of Marcus because I see so much of myself in him. He starts out doubting himself and his abilities, but when faced with difficult situations, he reaches deep within himself to find the courage and skills he needs to succeed. I avoided writing novels for many years because I didn’t think I was good enough. It wasn’t until I finally committed myself to it that I was able become the writer I always wanted to be.
What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?
Laurisa: My kids are my biggest inspiration. I write for them. They are also my biggest fans, so when I need a boost I just collect all my hugs and kisses from them.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Laurisa: That’s a tough question. I love every step of the process from conceiving the very first ideas for a story, to creating an outline and summary, to writing the first draft. The most challenging part is revising, which requires reading a manuscript many times over and over again, and picking apart every paragraph and sentence. It is tedious, but I love the end results – a polished book.
If you were forced to pick a single favorite author, who would it be?
Laurisa: Ack! That’s not fair! I can’t pick just one. And it would really depend on the genre. My favorite middle grade author is probably a toss up between Lois Lowry and Jerry Spinelli. My favorite young adult author, though, is a tie between Neal Shusterman, Megan Miranda and Marissa Meyer, but my choices change every time I pick up a new book.
So what is next on your publishing horizons? Can we look forward to more in the Celestine Chronicles soon?
Laurisa: I am writing book 3 in the series, The Seer of the Guilde, which is tentatively slated for 2015. But in the meantime, I am looking for an agent to help me publish my first young adult thriller called Contact. I’m also writing a young adult science fiction/horror novel. But the most exciting prospect is my prequel to The Rock of Ivanore called The Crystal Keeper, which chronicles the story of Jayson and Ivanore during Jayson’s fourteen years of exile. I’m exploring different possibilities for that book and hope to release it in 2014.
Can you share a short snippet from The Last Enchanter?
Laurisa: Sure! I’ll give you the prologue:
Fredric, ruler of Dokur, stared out his window toward the sea. The sounds of the cutting and hammering of wood and of men shouting came to him on a crisp salty breeze. Below in the bay, Dokur’s navy was busy rebuilding their ships. Eight months earlier Fredric’s own son had led their enemies to these very shores, and Dokur had nearly fallen by their swords. But soon these ships would set sail for the mainland and take revenge on the Hestorians.
Fredric heard the door open behind him. The gentle clinking of crystal against silver was the only introduction the visitor needed.
“Is it time already?” Fredric asked without turning. “I would like a little wine to soothe my nerves before bed.”
Arnot filled a goblet and handed it to his lord with a slight bow. Fredric downed the contents, and then returned the empty goblet.
“I fear I have grown too old for battle,” said Fredric, crossing the room to his bed. “These eyes have witnessed too much bloodshed, too much suffering.”
Fredric held out his arms while the attendant removed his royal robe and replaced it with a linen nightshirt. Once Fredric was dressed, Arnot went to the bed and pulled back the covers. “Your bed is prepared, your Majesty.”
Fredric rested his hands on the edge of the mattress. “My stomach,” he said. “It bothers me so.”
“Perhaps you should rest, sire,” replied Arnot.
Fredric rubbed his stomach and then raised his hand to his forehead where beads of sweat had formed. “I am not well tonight,” he continued, sighing. “But such is to be expected at my age.”
Suddenly, Fredric clenched his teeth together and his hands balled into fists against the mattress. He groaned as his entire body began to shake. Fredric grabbed the quilt in both fists and pulled with such force the fabric tore. A moment later he dropped to his knees, gasping for air.
“I am in pain,” he cried. “Fetch my doctor!”
Arnot remained where he stood and stared at Fredric with cold eyes.
“Arnot,” called Fredric, reaching for the attendant with both hands. “Please help me!”
A faint smile appeared on Arnot’s lips—so faint Fredric wondered if his eyes were playing tricks on him. When the attendant finally crossed the room to the door, Fredric felt relieved that help would be found. He lay down on the floor, too weak now to lift himself into the bed.
“Tell my doctor to hurry,” he whispered. “Tell him I am very ill.”
Arnot looked back at Fredric. The smile on his lips was now unmistakable, and there was a look of pleasure in his face.
“You are not ill,” he said coolly. “You have been poisoned.”
Then Arnot slipped through the door, shutting it quietly and securely behind him.
What a wonderful glimpse into this new world! I hope you are all eager to pick up The Celestine Chronicles now.
And you can, because Laurisa is kindly offering a print copy of THE ROCK OF IVANORE to a lucky winner! Be certain to enter your name below . . . and to thank Laurisa for visiting with us today. I love learning about new worlds, don't you?
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