Jessica L. Elliott
Title of book and/or series:
Charming Academy series
Brief summary of the story:
The Charming Academy series begins with Charming Academy, the story that tells what happened before, “Once upon a time…” Each following story is a retelling of a classic fairy tale with a few new twists and turns, particularly in giving more details about what the prince was doing. My goal was to create fairy tales that both girls and boys would love.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The series takes place in Sanalbereth, a fairy-ruled empire that is meant to be a past version of Earth. As the princes go on their quests, they run into the same kind of places you might find at home, only a little wilder and more dangerous.
If we were to visit Sanalbereth as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Well, you should certainly stop in Biberseth, the capitol city, to see Charming Academy for Boys and Fair Damsels Academy for Young Ladies. Then you can see where all the excitement beings as you watch princes and princesses train for the dangers of being on a quest. But if you really want to know where to go and what to do, you’ll have to talk to Uncle Sebastian. He knows every nook and cranny of the place and is a great storyteller to boot. I believe he lives in Rendorlin, but he travels a lot so you could find him just about anywhere.
What dangers should we avoid in Sanalbereth?
Be careful when traveling to stay clear of the highwaymen and bands of thieves in the mountains. There are also dragons, sea serpents and other beasts that would gladly see you as a main course. Most dangerous, however, are the witches. I’m not talking about the Sisters who work at the schools. We’re talking wicked witches. They may look sweet and charming, but watch out!
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Sanalbereth?
Most people ride horses or take carriages. If you’re lucky enough to encounter a kind-hearted dragon, she might let you ride on her back. But don’t count on it. Your best bet would be to visit Phillip in Maltisten and buy a horse from him. He’s got the best horses in Sanalbereth.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Sanalbereth that we don’t see on Earth?
There are many wild creatures in Sanalbereth. There are dragons and sea serpents and occasionally you’ll find enchanted princes as frogs, beasts or other things. If you’re very quiet in the woods, you might be lucky enough to come across a unicorn. You can also find fairies, imps, mermaids and other enchanting peoples.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Sanalbereth? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
The fairies have a kind of magic that gives peace and abundance to the peoples of Sanalbereth. They can also use it to send messages and teleport themselves and others at the end of a quest. There are also witches. Some are good, like the Sisters who live at the schools. They use their magic mainly for disciplinary purposes (don’t ever stick your tongue out!) but also to protect the schools and students. Some witches are evil and they are often a source of trouble to questing princes. One prince very nearly became a dog biscuit! The magic in Sanalbereth is often very subtle and might be overlooked by the casual observer, but it is there.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Sanalbereth.
Depending on where you are, you can find jousting tournaments and dressage competitions throughout Sanalbereth. The people here love their horses. There also art competitions, dances and festivals to meet all you entertaining needs.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Sanalbereth as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The calendar is the same. The fairies celebrate the changing of the seasons and each province has its own festivals and celebrations. For example, the farming provinces always have a splendid Harvest Festival.
What is the political or government structure in Sanalbereth? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Sanalbereth is an empire divided up into provinces ruled by human kings and queens, most often Prince Charmings who have completed their quests. The empire is ruled by the fairy king and queen who oversee the governance of Sanalbereth. The king is good-hearted and kind. He and the queen regularly travel to the different provinces, especially at times of weddings and coronations within the royal families.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
Real life often inspires my writing. Uncle Sebastian’s love for travel and adventure stems from my own wanderlust, though I haven’t been able to act on it as often as he has. My characters often have bits and pieces of people I know. But the best example of this is in the second book, Finding Prince Charming. Allegra is terrified of frogs because I am terrified of frogs, and really all amphibians. Can’t stand slimy things! *shudder
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I can’t think of any super controversial topics in my books, but each of them deals with different challenges. In Prince Charming’s Search, a character is suddenly faced with abuse and manipulation. Becoming Prince Charming takes a look at split personalities and The Ultimate Prince Charming follows two characters overcoming grief. So I guess depending on who you ask, these could be considered controversial. However, I’ve tried to handle each one delicately and show a positive outcome.
If you ask my mother, she’ll tell you I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil and telling stories even before that! I went to Emporia State University where I graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Never quite found a teaching job and after getting married, I started looking at writing again. The Charming Academy series is based on bedtime stories I told my youngest brother when I visited home on weekends during my college years. I have three adorable children who keep my life busy and crazy! My husband is a teacher and moved us to southwest Kansas where we have fallen in love with our community and this beautiful area of the state.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)? Please include links.
All of my books are available in print at Amazon. You can also order signed copies directly from me at my website. I’m still working on getting everything in ebook, but for now Charming Academy and The Ultimate Prince Charming are available on Smashwords.
Where can readers connect with you online?