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: Dianne Astle
Title of book and/or series: The Six Worlds: Book 1. Ben the Dragonborn; Book 2. Ben and the Watcher of Zargon
Brief summary of the story: 
There are six worlds under the care of one known as the Guardian. Each of the six worlds has a Watcher with a mystical connection to the Guardian and the world they serve. The Watcher guards the portals and is the Principal of a school where those chosen by the Guardian are trained. The Chosen of the Guardian are sent through the portals to other worlds so that they might protect and serve the cause of justice and peace.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story: 
On Earth the school is on a mist shrouded island off Canada’s west coast. To get to the school requires a boat, a float place or use of special portals that connect the school to the far corners of the world.  My main character goes through a portal to a world named Lushaka in the first book. It is a world covered in water, which is a problem, because Ben is afraid of being in water over his head. When Ben arrives in Lushaka, he finds that humans are about to go to war with the merfolk.
If we were to visit Lushaka as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
The Guardian’s school is only for those with a special invitation so I would recommend visiting the human community. However, think twice if they are on the verge of a war, because they become very suspicious of strangers.
What dangers should we avoid in Lushaka?
It is best to avoid any of the larger islands on Lushaka. The land tends to have very dangerous creatures on it. Of course this is the very place where Ben needs to go. He needs to travel to the top of one of the bigger islands. 
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Lushaka?
Ben was served raw fish, eggs, pickled sea slugs, sea cucumbers, and a seaweed and snail salad.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Lushaka?
Those who travelled with Ben carried a spear and a knife, both of which they used to fight off spiders.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Lushaka?
The portals that link one spot to another within the world are normally used for travel by the Chosen who go to Lushaka. Ben could not use the portals because he was not given the gift of being able to breathe under water. Ben travelled on the back of an orca-like whale and in a boat. At the end of the book some of the characters travelled on the back of a dragon.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Lushaka that we don’t see on Earth?
The two sentient groups are merfolk and human. The humans live in huge trees that grow up from the bottom of the ocean. In and around the trees are cork lily pads. On these lily pads the humans keep some animals. The land is dangerous. The island Ben went to had piranha like sand creatures, large spiders and huge birds that sometimes carry away children and small adults.  
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Lushaka?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
There are supernatural abilities given by the Guardian of the Six Worlds to those who are going through a portal to do the Guardian’s work on a world not their own. These gifts are returned to the Guardian when the quest is over. Ben receives the gift of becoming invisible and the gift of octopus hands and feet. When he is sent to Lushaka no one understands why he is only given two gifts. That mystery is revealed near the end of the book.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Lushaka and the other five schools.
Every school teaches a wide assortment of sports related skills. Hang gliding, parasailing, horseback riding, archery, sword play, tracking and outdoor survival, rope climbing, martial arts and much more. The Guardian’s school want to equip the Chosen for whatever challenges they face on a new world.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Lushaka as on Earth? There is a special medallion that reveals the day, month and year when the Chosen will go from one world to another which necessitates that the calendars be the same, although the special holidays will not be the same. 
Is there a particular religion practiced in Lushaka? 
The Six Worlds are similar to the Narnia series in that they are not explicitly Christian, but there are spiritual themes, particularly in the second book, Ben and the Watcher of Zargon. My characters do offer up prayers and blessings.
What is the political or government structure in Lushaka?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
The merfolk have a king who is behaving unreasonably. He is insisting that the humans get his crown back if they want to continue to harvest food from the ocean. Getting the crown back involves travelling to the top of a very dangerous island. The humans have a council which has a hard time making decisions.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I spent a few days on a float home moored near a small island off of Canada’s wild and wet west coast. I loved the area. It is my favorite place. An ancient castle makes little sense off the west coast where everything is relatively new, but I couldn’t imagine the school anywhere else. However, the place I spent a few days is a very lonely place. Very few people live in the vicinity or stay overnight in the area, so it is possible to imagine an ancient castle hidden away on a mist-shrouded island.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
In my mind there are no controversial topics. One of the themes in the book is finding friends where you expect to find enemies. The other is that we are more than we think we are and we need to find the treasure of our own true selves.
Author Autobiography:
Dianne Astle has worked at a variety of jobs in her life.  She has been a draftsperson, a news correspondent for a radio station, a teacher’s aide, and most recently had the opportunity to practice servant leadership in a faith community. Dianne loves fishing, riding horses, and walking with her dog. She lives with her husband Doug, his three cats and her beloved dog Thomas
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.
At the moment my books are only available through Amazon.
Ben the Dragonborn at Amazon
Ben the Dragonborn at Createspace   https://www.createspace.com/5713690
Ben and the Watcher of Zargon at Amazon
Ben and the Watcher of Zargon at Createspace https://www.createspace.com/5598284
Where can readers connect with you online? 
Twitter @bendragonborn

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Lushaka.  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 the _____ world of ______, in Realm Explorers Part LXXVIII!
-Annie Douglass Lima