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. This one is FREE between October 29th and November 3rd!
Katherine L. Holmes
Title of book and/or series:
The House in Windward Leaves
Brief summary of the story:
Transformed during an enchanted journey, Lushina children try out their dreamed identities.
Halloween night, Sadie and her neighborhood friends slip past cardboard cut-outs of the painter Mistral and a lady at the leaf-covered house on Windward Road. Looking at a wall mural, they are transported beyond the room to a Halloween party on a star where their costumes become real.
As Fortuneteller, Sadie only has to look in her crystal ball to help the others with their transformations. Her friend Candy has become the Homecoming Queen. The neighbor boy has become George Washington and his brother is a musician in the star band.
That begins the adventures of Sadie and the enchanted children who make up the bizarre star community. Then Mistral’s woman friend finds that her star-of-sapphire necklace is missing. The found thief confesses that he stole it for a treasure hunt that takes up the latter chapters of this madcap fantasy.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
A world where the chosen costumes – new identities – have their usual habitat. There’s a festive area, a palace, woods and wilds, and other places that the transformed would inhabit.
What is the age level for this fantasy?
It is intended for the middle grade reader, or older.
If we were to visit Mistral’s star as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
A continual party is going on with music and freakish people there. The woods have an unusual group of animals. George Washington attends to issues at his white house. The Fortuneteller could tell you what’s going on at the moment in her crystal ball.
What dangers should we avoid in Mistral’s world?
Identity crisis is avoided because of the stress. Normal conflicts such as if you are a zebra, you would want to avoid hunters. There is a suspicious character, Riff Raff, who is a robber and keeps a gang in the wilds of the star. The Homecoming Queen wants power.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Mistral’s land?
Star cakes on arrival. Some of the food grows at an unusual rate such as herbs. There are cooks there and at least one farmer so the food is generally what it would be on earth.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Mistral’s star land?
Nothing is commonly done. There is a knight and cowboys, and there are Indians and gangsters. And an angry moose. They use methods according to their identity so that if they meet, the conflict at first is to understand the weapons.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Mistral’s star?
Traveling there is a dimensional experience. Vehicles, animals, and technology are pretty much what children would imagine. The tooth fairy has a mysterious entry into the star after she’s been out visiting. There is a unicorn on the star and that animal is hard to see if it is near. During the treasure hunt, a leprechaun can race ahead in leaps.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Mistral’s land that we don’t see on earth?
Unicorn. A woman who was a cat on earth. A dinosaur. A coal-eating weredog.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Mistral’s star? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Magic is the entrance to Mistral’s Halloween party and land. The main magic is the forgetting of a former identity and the taking on of the costume identity which becomes real there. Because many of the costume identities include magical properties, that magic is seen or experienced.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Mistral’s land? If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
There is a philosophical mention of dream theory which has to do with the place itself. The science of the place isn’t well understood. The Fortuneteller’s crystal ball works, and it has a weird energy core that makes it a strobe light at the dancing space.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Mistral’s star.
That happens when the characters arrive there. A party is in progress and there is a variety of live music and dancing. That leads to festivities for the President and the Homecoming Queen at a game half-time, and the conflict that occurs after that. The inhabitants find their place but they can always return to the festive core of the star where Mistral’s palace is.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Mistral’s land as on earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
They seem to be but they aren’t. The transport happens on Halloween night however that is pretty much forgotten. Star events become special. The Homecoming Queen is in a strange parade. There is an official celebration for the winners of a treasure hunt which is a publicized event.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Mistral’s land? Please describe what it involves.
There is a girl who was going to dress as a nun for Halloween but because of her costume problem, went as a priest. She is the religious official on the star and she gives confession. But because of the variety of inhabitants there, her chapel is ecumenical.
What is the political or government structure in Mistral’s land? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Mistral lives in a palace and is apparently rich there. But a President has arrived and a would-be queen has come there. Riff Raff, the suspicion character that controls the wilds, wants an aristocratic title.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Mistral’s star?
Mostly that you should be prepared to play the part you have chosen, and only that.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I always loved Halloween parties and the challenge of the costume.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I would say the issue of identity, as it works with underlying wishes.
Katherine L. Holmes lives in Duluth, Minnesota, where, besides writing, she works with used books. She has an M.A. in Writing from the University of Minnesota, obtained after stints in publishing and newspaper reporting. Her first published book, The House in Windward Leaves, became a Finalist in both the 2013 Next Generation and the National Indie Excellence book awards. More about her and her other books can be found at her website.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)? Please include links.
Flute Lore, Flute Tales:
Artifacts, History, and Stories About the Flute Paperback Kindle
Where can readers connect with you online?
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Mistral’s land. 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 kingdoms of Nuomor and Ghairlazh in Realm Explorers Part XXI!