Title of book and/or series:
Book 1: Secret of the Lost King
Book 2: Sword of the Broken Son (Coming Fall 2016)
Book 3: Skin of the Dragon Lord (Coming Winter 2017)
Tale 1: Betrayal of the Green Archer
Brief summary of the story:
Long ago, the Emperor Morogh stole the throne of Tanniyn from the rightful king. Ruling from the Dark Castle, Morogh seeks three lost children spoken of in a prophecy from the night he took over the kingdom. Those three children are the only ones who may be able to end Morogh’s reign forever.
With the Emperor’s soldiers on their tail, Jack, Maggie, and Molly must escape and find a traitor, restore a lost king, and discover the secret memory the three of them share. Hidden away in the depths of their minds is knowledge – knowledge Morogh wants very badly. And once Morogh gains that knowledge? He will remain Emperor for all eternity.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Tanniyn is a kingdom built by the Northern Kings long ago before those same kings abandoned everything and disappeared. From the eastern mountains to the swamps of the south, the people live in fear of the Emperor Morogh and the ancient evil some believe still exists beneath the ground.
If we were to visit Tanniyn as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Visiting some of the local villages would give a great flavor of the daily life, and there are some magnificent views in the Eastern Mountains from the Star Castles, hidden above the clouds. There are also the Star Tropics to the east of the mountains, one of the last beautiful oases left in the kingdom. Palm trees, and long, white beaches stretch for miles along inland seas.
Some have found the stained glass windows of the Dark Castle where the Emperor Morogh rules to be quite enchanting. Some say the windows depict the ancient legends of the kingdom, but others say there is more truth in two specks of glass than any book.
What dangers should we avoid in Tanniyn?
Watch out for quicksand pits in the swamps. Creatures lurk beneath the muck, waiting for helpless travelers who wander a little too close. Also, I would generally recommend avoiding the Library of Secrets located beneath an active volcano. Every quarter hour the volcano erupts rock and ash, changing the landscape dramatically. When visiting the Library of Secrets, be sure to avoid the catacombs as they are filled with ancient prisoners and hungry arachnids. And never, ever, drink the water of any fountain. Its effects could be… hazardous to your health and wellbeing.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Tanniyn?
Once a paradise, food of all kinds grow throughout the kingdom wildly. You may find some berries growing along the path through the woods, or you may find some beautiful rainbow trout hopping its way upstream. Generally, grains are the meal of the land, and every farmer is worth their weight in wheat.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Tanniyn?
Scrapy fighters abound in Tanniyn, trained long ago by the Grand Weapons Master of the Star Tropics. However, since Emperor Morogh took over and murdered the Grand Weapons Master, true training in swordplay and archery have gone by the wayside – at least for the common people.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Tanniyn?
Most travel by foot or horseback, but the elite have elaborate carriages that will take them throughout the kingdom. However, why anyone would leave the safety of their home is beyond even the wisest of Tanniyn.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Tanniyn that we don’t see on Earth?
Everything wants to eat you. From the deadly plant pods of the Star Castles to the quicksand lurkers to the large arachnid living away its years in the Library of Secrets, the best plan is to lock your doors at night and hope nothing has crawled in while you weren’t watching.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Tanniyn? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Supernatural forces are definitely afoot in Tanniyn. Whenever the kingdom’s fate is threatened, there is always one chosen to bear the weight of visions. Once selected, this person will fall asleep in Tanniyn and wake up elsewhere. Whether they actually arrive in other lands through their dreams is a mystery, but ancient legends come to life once the waking world fades away.
Once, a prophet lived in the Dark Castle, and his prophecy about the Three Lost Heroes still haunts the kingdom. Alas, he was killed during the coup that allowed the Emperor Morogh to take the Dark Castle, and his prophetic skills died with him.
There are also many supernatural items throughout the kingdom. Most of these have been hidden away, but some remain known. The Book of Secrets mysteriously contains knowledge of every known act and secret within the kingdom, but written in a strange language only Caretakers of the book will understand. The Golden Sword is rumored to grant unspeakable strength to anyone who holds it, but it was lost long, long ago in the Star Castle Wars. Other secrets lurk within the depths of the kingdom, waiting for the right person to come along and unleash them.
What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The people of Tanniyn celebrate few precious holidays, but the Week of Grains is most definitely the one event everyone looks forward to. Celebrated secretly in recent years, the Week of Grains is a time when villages band together and dance away the weeks after harvest, hoping for another bountiful year. Many villages perform special songs, and orators share the stories of legends long told.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Tanniyn? Please describe what it involves.
There are some who believe in God, and read the stories of the ancient Bible, but most typically fear an ancient power – spoken of in hushed whispers but never spoken outside the safety of homes. Some say this power ruled the land long ago, but others say it doesn’t exist. No one truly knows, not even the Caretaker of Secrets in the Library of Secrets. Those pages went missing from The Book of Secrets a thousand years ago…
What is the political or government structure in Tanniyn? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Tanniyn is a monarchy, ruled from the Dark Castle by one King. In the past, a group of kings from the north ruled the land from the Star Castles in the Eastern Mountains, but they were driven north ages ago. Currently, the Emperor Morogh rules from the Dark Castle, and he rules with a spiked fist, plowing over any who would dare stand in his way.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I have always loved world travel, and so far I only have two continents left to visit: Antartica and Australia. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to the South Pole, but Australia is on my bucket list. From riding camels through the deserts of northern Africa and exploring the snowy woods in Heidelberg, Germany, to watching the sun rise on the eastern coast of Russia to the overgrown mountains of Ecuador, I love seeing everything this world has to offer. I would definitely not be surprised if those real life locations have sneaked their way into Tanniyn. I’ve only begun exploring this world, and can’t wait to see what else is hiding away in the corners of this enchanted kingdom.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
** SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING **
Family is a complicated topic. So often in middle grade fiction, parents are portrayed in two ways: extremely aloof and useless, or they are generally good people who care about their kids.
But my experience in life is that there are many kids growing up without a parent. Or with parents who are dangerous. Or who watch their parents do awful things. It’s a scary idea to wrestle with them. For Secret of the Lost King, I wanted to tackle the question: What if someone discovered their parents were not good people? What if someone who wanted a family became part of a family that wasn’t good?
While the book doesn’t go anywhere near some of the horrors children today face, it does look at the concept of parents who are not good people.
I have always loved a good story. Ever since I picked up my great-grandmother’s copy of THE WIZARD OF OZ as a second grade reader, I’ve always known that stories, writing, and adventures on the written page were in my future. I love to read, and some of the my favorite authors to follow are Travis Thrasher, Brandon Mull, Wayne Thomas Batson, and Robert Liparulo. I’m also a movie fanatic, and more than once I have heard that some of my books read like 1980’s adventure films. When I’m not writing, I spend my time as a Children’s Pastor, telling stories and sharing hope.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books? Please include links.
My books are available on Amazon in both ebook
Where can readers connect with you online?
Visit my website: shaunstevensonbooks.com
for info on all of my books, as well as blog posting and exclusive behind the scenes content. You can also sign up for my email newsletter and receive a bonus short story for free: Thrones: Betrayal of the Green Archer.