I’m very excited to have special guest, Keira Gillett, author of the Zaria Fierce Trilogy on the blog today. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, released earlier this year in March. Watch the book trailer to learn more:
Q: Hello Keira, thanks for agreeing to be featured on Reinreads. Why did you decide to write a middle grade/young adult trilogy?
Keira Gillett: Hi Alysyn! I’m so grateful to be on Reinreads. Thanks for having me. As for your question, I grew up on Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Animorphs, Half Magic, Ella Enchanted, and Harry Potter. They were a big part of my childhood. I still remember devouring the books for the first time. I wanted to contribute to a genre that I loved so much as a child and teen (and let’s face it as an adult too!) It’d be an honor to have written someone’s favorite book.
Keira: Of course! Many times! It was too exciting not to listen. I’ve heard from a narrator (not Michele Carpenter) that it’s not uncommon for authors to blithely accept the audio book production without listening to a single word, but where is the fun in that? Michele and I are both storytellers, we simply do it differently. I tell stories with words, she tells stories with her voice. I loved listening to the audio book and I highly recommend it. I find audio books to be like listening to your own private performance.
Q: Did you ask for changes in the audio book?
Keira: A few. Michele is very good and does her homework. In fact, more times than not she found things that needed to be changed. 🙂 The biggest thing I asked her to do was to change Christoffer’s voice at the beginning of the book. You see, by the time Michele reached the end of the story she had another idea for his voice and ran it by me. We both agreed that her second voice for him was better, which meant rerecording his voice at the beginning of the book. Michele is a wonderful collaborator. I couldn’t ask for a better narrator. I hope you check out the audio book – you’ll love it!
Q: Did you do the same or something similar with the illustrator?
Keira: In the planning stage Eoghan Kerrigan and I discussed Zaria and Olaf. The original troll Eoghan drew for Olaf I totally loved. It was fabulous, but the troll followed the description rules for my mountain-trolls. Olaf as a river-troll is adapted to living in and near the water. So we made the first troll into Jorkden, the leader of the Wild Hunt. Eoghan was great! He sketched several ideas and when Olaf was revealed it was a perfect fit. Zaria too went through similar transitions, and had many loveable options, but when we got to the final iteration of Zaria, it was clear this was it and that she had arrived. Trust me, when you dive into the print/e-book versions you will adore Eoghan’s work.
Q: How long have you been working on Zaria Fierce?
Keira: The total time spent in the Word document to write her first trip across Norway was roughly three to four days. The actual time spent writing was spaced over two to three months of dedicated writing. If that pattern holds true I could probably write four to six similarly sized novels in a year. Will that happen? It seems unlikely, because I have an 8-to-5 job and I spend time promoting, editing, collaborating, formatting, blogging, and more for the book and on my other blogs. If you factor that in, it’s more like two books a year. Still, I think that’s pretty good. Why, are you ready for book two of Zaria’s madcap adventures? If you are, not to worry, book two being edited as we speak and a cover reveal will be coming soon. 😉
That’s so great to hear the second installment is coming out soon! Thanks for participating in this author’s interview!
Thanks for having me here today! It’s been a pleasure!
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.
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. 4 Stars – Jennifer Bardsley, The YA Gal
I really enjoyed Zaria’s story. It reminded me a lot of Percy Jackson series… Middle school children will absolutely like this one! 4 Stars – Anjie Basi, Love Thy Shelf
This book will have young listeners hooked right from the start. In fact, if parents are planning a driving holiday this summer, I highly recommend purchasing this audiobook. It will definitely keep the kids entertained while traveling. Michele Carpenter’s narration is terrific. 5 Stars – Amie Gaudet, Amie’s Book Reviews
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!”
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.