Hi everyone, welcome. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Keira Gillett about the second book in her middle grade fantasy adventure trilogy set in Norway. Keira is self-published, and this is not only her second book, but the second book she’s published this year. Let’s get started!
Keira: Hi Zakiya, thanks for having me! I’m glad to be here.
Q: How do you write? Do you know everything before you start a book?
Keira: Just the opposite actually. I found that boxing myself in blocked creativity and kept me from putting words on the page. When I write a book, or a trilogy, as is the case with Zaria Fierce, I focus on the big picture and the large landmarks that mark the way along the journey. Starting Zaria Fierce I knew a handful of things which I would build the story around. For instance, I knew how book one and book two would end, but I also knew how the final confrontation would resolve at the end of the trilogy, and since that was the destination I was flexible even on where and how to end the first two books. For Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword I knew we’d visit giants, fairies, and dwarves to get to the sword, but how each group would interact with our adventurers I couldn’t have told you until I was in the midst of writing those scenes. It made writing as fun for me as I hope reading is for fans.
Q: What is your favorite scene in Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword?
Keira: So I asked my mom this question, right, and she said (as moms will do), “I don’t know. I liked all of it.” That was super unhelpful because I felt the same way. I still do, but I’m going to be good and pick a couple of scenes that are just magical to me.
- I loved how Zaria and her friends enter and leave the high court of Jötunheim. I loved their time with the giants. Coming up with giant names is a blast. They make me giggle.
- I also get excited by how Hector takes everyone into Niffleheim (the fairy realm). At first, it was just a super cool entrance and sequence into the next movement of the book, but then it became even cooler to me because it meant something to the fey (which, when I started the scene, wasn’t even on my mind).
- Lastly, I am super pleased with how the end sequence came out with Zaria and the sword. It is exactly what I wanted. I wouldn’t change anything. And, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Q: Where did you experience writer’s block in Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword?
Keira: The first block came right after Zaria and her friends left the giants. I kept thinking, what next? How do we get to the fairies? I also had to figure out how Aleks as a changeling would react going there, because he was abandoned by them in the human world, and his grandmother had told him stories all his life about magical Norway. What would she have said?
While I thought about this, I was working on edits and revisions for Zaria’s first adventure in Norway, so I was able to keep my focus on the world, and not dwell too much on the problematic aspect of advancing the storyline in the second book. By the time I was finished with edits, I’d become so immersed in the first book that I had to reread everything in the second book, which took some time as I was naughty and edited as I went.
When I caught up to where I had been before, Aleks’ dilemma was obvious, and how they would travel into the realm of the fairies, and what would happen while they were there. It all fell into place as easy as plopping down on a couch; the support/structure was there, ready and waiting for me to pick up where I left off. I just had to start writing.
Q: Do you do anything to keep you focused while writing?
Keira: I listen to music… generally without lyrics while writing and generally with lyrics while editing. I also like to be isolated from people while I write/edit. You can check out more about my listening habits and hear the playlist for the book at my friend, Emily’s, blog.
Q: Is there any advice you would give to young writers?
Keira: You are capable of writing a book and you’re capable of self-publishing it you want to go that route. Take every step one at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be a published author. Just be sure to finish writing the book!!!
Thank you again, Zakiya. I loved being here and talking about the book. If you have any questions for me – share in a comment and I’ll take the time to answer them!
Book Two in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy
Summary: If Zaria Fierce had her say, being a princess would mean you’d never have to wait for news. In the eight months since Olaf tricked her, Zaria has felt a near constant mixture of restlessness, listlessness, and hopelessness. When the time comes to fix past mistakes, she is more than ready to climb aboard the ship sailing towards the giants. Summertime in Norway promises many more adventures, but also many more perils… something sinister lurks beneath the surface following her every move, haunting her, disturbing her dreams, and stealing her peace. Can Zaria figure out what it is and stop it before it’s too late?
Release Date: November 6, 2015
Praise for Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest (Book 1):
“Are you in the mood for an old fashioned magical jaunt? Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett is a classic “perilous adventure” book for middle grade readers.” Jennifer Bardsley, The YA Gal
“A captivating blending of fantasy storytelling with today’s technology. At the base of this tale is deep, abiding friendship that stands the tests of time, adventure and even danger.” Kathy Haw, Goodreads Review
“A great book with a lovely story and amazing characters. It’s a fantasy and adventure book that will be the delight of Narnia fans and those looking for a bit of Norwegian folklore thrown into it.” Ner, A Cup of Coffee and a Book
“If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure dipped in fantasy, look no further. This book kept me on my toes with its many cliffhangers and plot twists; it was quite hard to put down at times.” Meredith, All ‘Bout Them Books and Stuff
“I love when a story jumps right in and hooks me like this one did. I highly recommend you look into it if you are in the mood for a fun adventure. I also recommend that you get it for any book loving middle schooler you know.” Emily, Midwestern Book Nerd
Filip slung his window open and tossed out his backpack. It landed in a thump in the hedgerow. Aleks pulled it out and slung it over his shoulder with his own bag.
“How’re you getting down?”
“Hopefully with your stargazer.”
“Then why toss down your bag?” Aleks asked, exasperated.
“Just in case,” Filip said with a wink at Zaria.
She suppressed a smile. She looked to the others, “Does anybody have rope?”
Aleks and Geirr both nodded. Then Geirr unzipped his bag and pulled out a neat coil from on top. He tossed it to Filip, who snatched it up as it sailed by the window. He disappeared into his bedroom and reappeared moments later slinging the coil out the window. It unraveled to the ground.
“Good,” Filip said briskly. “It’s long enough. Now let’s see if it holds.”
Filip quickly scaled the side of the house and they gathered their belongings preparing to dash. Without warning, Mrs. Storstrand stuck her head out of a bottom window and shrieked at the sight of them.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“Run!” Filip shouted, grabbing his friends’ sleeves and rushing for the street.
Aleks cursed and threw Filip his backpack while slinging his own around to the front and unzipping a pocket. He looked frazzled as he dug inside the opening. Mrs. Storstrand was quick. She was already out of the house and chasing after them. She threatened life and limb and the most terrible of all – letting Filip’s father know what he was about.
At last Aleks found the stargazer – a shiny purplish egg-shaped object perforated with stars – and almost dropped it in his haste. After a brief fumble, Aleks located the largest star, and hastily jabbed his finger into the hole. Just like that, Mrs. Storstrand froze mid-run. But so too did Christoffer, Filip, and Geirr.
Aleks looked at Zaria and to the others. “Damn,” he hissed. “Wait! How are you not frozen too?”
Author Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.