Today I have special guest, Keira Gillett, author of the Zaria Fierce Trilogy. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, released on 06 March 2015 and is the first in a new trilogy. Watch the book trailer:
Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Keira Gillett: Starting the book was crazy difficult. I abandoned two or three drafts of the first book in the Zaria Fierce trilogy. Something was wrong with each plot and the story would get stuck at introducing the villain or the momentum of the story would simply peter out. The best part of each draft was the description of Zaria Fierce. I honed her as a character. I wrote the prologue that would start Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest in May 2014. I didn’t pick it up again until late September 2014. I didn’t know if I would keep the prologue or find the right villain for the story, but all the time between May and September spent thinking about my book paid off! When I opened the story again to write, Olaf flowed fully formed and ready to be as nasty a river-troll as you ever did meet out onto the page. The whole arc of the trilogy snapped into place with the introduction of Olaf. Once I got past that part the rest was a piece of cake.
This by the way is Olaf:
He’s fabulously drawn by Eoghan Kerrigan, who did all the illustrations in Zaria Fierce.
Q: What is your favorite part in The Secret of Gloomwood Forest?
Keira: I can’t possibly narrow it down to one favorite scene. I have several, but I’ll limit it to three favorite scenes.
The first part I love is when Zaria and Geirr meet Norwick for the first time. I like it because Zaria is undaunted by a ferocious mythical wild animal and she’s tenderhearted enough to try to help it.
My second favorite scene is when the children escape from their prison cell in the heart of Trolgar, an underground mountain-troll kingdom. It’s a favorite because it is where I overcame writer’s block and a conundrum. Do I delete the story parts that trapped the kids in the cell with no way out? Do I forge ahead? And if I do forge ahead, how do they escape? Remember, there’s no way out! The answer came to me after leaving the story alone for a day and I love how it turned out!
And thirdly, I loved Zaria’s escape on the elk through the forest. It’s magical to me and was in a small way inspired by the illustration of John Bauer’s work for Princess Cottongrass (below).
Q: How did you choose Zaria Fierce as the name for the main character?
Keira: I have a friend whose name is Zarabeth and I always thought it was cool that her name began with a ‘Z,’ so I started there. Obviously, I couldn’t just use her name so I thought of other ways to say ‘Sarah.’ There are a lot! I settled on Zaria because Zaria means princess which has significance in the story. You can pronounce Zaria many ways, but I prefer Zar-e-ah.
Her last name came to me very quickly after I had the first name. Zaria would be a girl who longed for adventure, but didn’t think she was capable of it because she was shy. Zaria Timid is silly, but Zaria Fierce is not. And, fierceness is the characteristic she will learn that she has had all along.
Q: What were your favorite stories as a child?
Keira: My mother would read Half Magic by Edward Eager once a year when I was young. I loved it. I read nearly every Animorphs book to come out while I was in middle school and discovered Ella Enchanted around the same time. I have read the latter book aloud twice to my younger sisters. I also love Harry Potter, Twilight, Artemis Fowl, Iron Fey, Goddess Test, The Selection, Percy Jackson, Ascendance, Eli Monpress, and Hunger Games to name a few series and trilogies.
Q: What’s your advice for someone who wants to be an author?
Keira: Write. Write anything. Write a poem. Write a short story. Write a fanfic. Write a novel. Write a play. Write a song. Journal. Dream diary. Write. Write. Write. If you don’t write you won’t have anything to share. Also, read. Read a lot. Read about writing. Read what editors and grammar gurus have to say about writing and the English language. Read the genre you want to write. Read about stuff that inspires you. Read. When you read, pay attention to the thoughts you are thinking – How would you have handled that scene? How would the story be different if this or that happened? Then write it. Stories are beautiful and strange creatures that can come from anywhere at anytime. Be ready and write!
This has been fun! Thanks for having me here today!
Book Blurb: On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.
“With kids interested in “Frozen,” with Anna and Elsa, this would be a natural progression.” – Judi Oswald, Reference Librarian
See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here.
Geirr stooped to pick up some decent-sized sticks, and Zaria bent to grab a few too. They talked amicably and walked, stretching their legs, until they were too burdened by their loads to keep going.
“My arms are going to collapse,” Zaria huffed. Her breath fogged around her face, covering and then revealing a well-pinked nose and cheeks. “Let’s head back to camp.”
“Sounds good to me,” Geirr said and turned around to do just that. Zaria followed and collided into him, dropping her load of kindling all over the ground.
“Hey!” she exclaimed, as she went to gather them. “Why did you stop?”
“I don’t think we’re going to find camp,” Geirr said, worrying his lip. He juggled his armful of wood and pointed haphazardly forward. “It’s like pea soup.”
Zaria looked up from playing fifty-two pickup and saw what worried Geirr. In front of them was a wall of fog, thick, viscous, and impossible to see through. She gulped and carefully set down the pile she’d been working to gather again. Was it her imagination or did the fog seem to be breathing? It crept closer in stages. Not fast enough that she saw it while looking directly at it, but if she looked away and back, it most definitely moved.
“Uh, Geirr,” Zaria said, slowly gaining her feet. “I think we should move and fast.”
Geirr looked at her puzzled. “I don’t think fast is an option here. Now if you pick up your stack and stick near me maybe we can Marco Polo our way back to the others.”
“Geirr,” Zaria hissed, her voice ratcheting higher. “The fog is moving.” He didn’t look impressed. The breathing sounds from within the fog grew louder, distressing Zaria. “No seriously, it’s moving like it’s alive.”
Geirr looked back again and stared hard, trying to penetrate the fog with his gaze alone. Zaria started to ease away, firewood forgotten.
“Come on, Geirr, we have to move. Can’t you hear the breathing?”
“That isn’t you?” he asked, alarmed.
“No!” Zaria shouted. “Run!”
See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here.
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.