Realm Explorers Part LXVI: Visit Aruuliah with Linda M David
Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:

Linda M David
Title of book and/or series:
The Firestone Crystal
Brief summary of the story:
Agathea Fulstropp (prefers to be called Thea) becomes the first Earth pupil at The Firestone Academy on Planet Aruuliah after coming into possession of a strange crystal.  Not only does she have to contend with strange, alien technology and lessons in telepathy and astral projection, but also hostile aliens and a mysterious cave creature that continuously invades her dreams.  What can it possibly want from her?
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
On the planet of Aruuliah the sky is pale mauve with just a hint of violet, and has a bright red sun.  It is a world filled with an abundance of exotic trees which dwarf everything around them, and strangely-shaped plants and flowers, the like of which has never been seen on Earth.  The wealth of colour is amazing, their vibrancy, stunning and the air, clean, pure and fresh.
The Firestone Academy itself is a vast circular complex of gleaming glass and marble buildings set out like the rings of a circle, each joined together by open walk-ways and glass corridors.  The centre of the complex comprises an attractive courtyard which is encircled by the Halls of Residence, consisting of Celestial House, Cosmic House and Asteroid House.
The middle ring of buildings house the Chambers of Learning, where all lessons take place as well as several Lecture Halls, the Halls of Dining and Communication Chambers, while the outer ring contains the Halls of Knowledge and Great Meeting Hall.  They are bordered by the Recreation Zone where students can engage in sport and leisure activities, buy supplies and sweets and eat at the Fun-Food Café.
If we were to visit Aruuliah as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Utopia is the planet’s main city and it is, as you would expect, very futuristic.  All of the buildings are constructed from glass and marble that gleam and sparkle from top to bottom.  The unique structure of each building sees them reaching dizzying heights and are built in such a way that seem to defy gravity itself.  They also have their own individual shape and style that manages to fit in with the overall design of the city, giving it a certain sense of majestic splendour.  Although the first book is set mainly on school grounds, in the second book there is a trip to Utopia’s famous Leisure Centre, where the students learn to hover-skate.
What dangers should we avoid in Aruuliah?
Aruuliah is not really a dangerous place, however, it is very early on in the series, so there are a lot of things I haven’t discovered yet!
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Aruuliah?
Oh, too many to mention!  The Fun-Food Café at the Academy has a very interesting menu.  Their specialty is the Thunderbolt Sizzler, an extremely hot and spicy burger, Crispy-Crusted Weedroot, which are long, curly crispy-fried chips made from an assortment of tasty local vegetables and Honey-Roasted Warty Bread, a kind of sweet-flavoured pizza.  There is also a dessert called a Chocolate-Chilly Shock, which freezes your entire body for ten seconds, allowing you to savour the flavour as it slides down your throat. 
The Molten-Lava Shakes are also popular with the students, a steaming-hot milky drink that bubbles thickly when poured and comes in a variety of flavours such as Crystalized Ginger, Candied Orange and Butterscotch Toffee.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Aruuliah?
Aruuliah is a peaceful planet, however I have a feeling Book 3 may involve some combat.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Aruuliah?
From Earth, travel to Aruuliah is via portal, where an ‘invisible window’ in space opens up and when you just step through, a brief moment of weightlessness is experienced.
Travel to the Firestone Academy is via a vehicle known as a Tierrapod.  This is metallic silver in colour and shaped like a giant bullet, with the main body being made from a bright, sparkling metal, while the top and sides are glass.  All transport on Aruuliah uses hover technology or flies.  They moved on from the wheel long ago!
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Aruuliah that we don’t see on Earth?
In the first book, we are introduced to sprogletts which are tiny humanoid creatures, about three inches in height.  They come in a variety of colours and are completely hairless.  Upon reaching maturity, and depending upon their habitat, they take on the characteristics of their environment.  For example, those living in or near water may develop fins and gills, whilst those living in an area populated by birds or specific insects may grow wings or feathers.  They will blend in and camouflage themselves in order to live in harmony with their surroundings and commune with nature. 
There is also a mysterious cave-dwelling creature, but I can’t reveal too much about that in case I spoil the surprise.  Other creatures, such as gruzzlings and cheebles are introduced in Book 2.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Aruuliah?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
There is no magic as such, however, at the Academy, there is a powerful concentration of energy in the Gardens of Meditation and Tranquility which the students are taught to use to increase their own energy levels.   By merging their consciousness with nature and the natural energy it provides, the state of kinaaja can be achieved.    There are ten stages of kinaaja and at each stage, students can accomplish different things, such as promoting plant growth, seeing auras and engaging in astral projection.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Aruuliah?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Most mundane tasks such as making beds, taking baths and showers and cleaning are fully automated.  There are also Duplicating Machines which are programmed with foods and dishes from a wide range of planets and are voice activated.  By stating the name of the planet and dish you would like, the machine dispenses a compartmentalized tray with different sized, shaped and coloured pills.  At the push of a button on the tray, the pills transform into the requested meal (which tastes just like freshly-made food).  By pushing another button on the tray, any left-overs simply disintegrate leaving the tray clean and spotless.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Aruuliah.
Apart from hover-skating, there is a game called Dodge-Ball Dilemma available.   The game involves two teams of up to six players, each of whom possess a total of three soft balls, filled with a thick, luminous fluid.  Players have to hit the members of the other team with these balls which are designed to burst on impact.  A computer-controlled ball is then released which automatically targets any player spattered with the slimy gunge.  There are several levels to this game which could end up with as many as five of these balls targeting the players at any one time.  Once the player is hit, they are out.  Although it is a lot of fun to play, all players end up drenched in a wet and sticky liquid that takes forever to wash off.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Aruuliah as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Strangely enough yes, they are exactly the same.  Students have lessons all week and have weekends off.  There are half-term holidays and although the end-of-year-holiday is not called Christmas, the concept is the same.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Aruuliah?  Please describe what it involves.
There are a range of religions, as on Earth, however inhabitants tend to lean towards a more spiritual type of existence rather than a religious one.
What is the political or government structure in Aruuliah?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
There is a main Council of the Coalition of Developing and Evolving Planets, which was established to ensure that all planets and people exist in balance and harmony with one another.  The Leader of the Council is Caziel, whose wisdom and knowledge is sought by many.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I consider myself to be a spiritual person, so I have tried to incorporate this into the book, such as the meditation practices and awareness of energy.  Also, the importance of having balance and harmony in one’s life.
The first part of the second book is actually located on the island of Nevis, where my parents are from.  I was able to include information on some of the island’s natural beauty and attractions, as well as their annual cultural festival, Culturama.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I think the main topic in this instance would be issues about race.  Thea has always been the only black student at her previous schools (on Earth) and so, has always felt different from her peers.  That feeling of ‘not fitting in’ has never left her, however, when she enrolls at the Firestone Academy, every student is different as they are all from different planets, yet it’s not a big deal.   
Students and staff are from all over the Universe and are descended from reptilian, animal and bird species, all of whom have evolved into humanoid beings.  There are a multitude of skin colours, from the palest to the darkest imaginable in a variety of patterns and markings.  There are also a range of appendages and attachments, from tails and horns to tentacles and feelers, additional skin augmentations in the form of spikes and ridges, and an assortment of fur and feathers, talons, claws and webbed feet!  Thea finds that now she is the one who has to learn to accept others’ differences in the same way that they readily accept hers.
Author Aautobiography:
Linda David was born in Cyprus to parents who both hail from the Caribbean island of Nevis. Although she was raised mainly in England, she has also lived in Germany as well as St Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies.  She has always enjoyed reading and was encouraged to do so from a very early age, and that is partly what inspired her to write.  Even today she can remember the excitement and wonder she used to experience as a child when reading fantasy and adventure stories, so she hopes that through her own writing, she will be able to inspire and encourage other children’s interest and pleasure in reading as well.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books? 
My books are available on Kindle and Paperback here. 
Where can readers connect with you online? 
More information can be found at my website.  I can also be contacted through twitter and my Facebook Page.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Aruuliah.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world, in Realm Explorers Part LXVII!
-Annie Douglass Lima

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