Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
Title of book and/or series:
The Minstrel’s Song (King’s Warrior, Second Son, and Yorien’s Hand are the first three books in this series, with Minstrel’s Call hopefully coming out in 2016)
Brief summary of the story:
When Dark Warriors invade her country, it is up to Princess Kamarie to seek out the legendary king’s warrior and request his aid. The feisty princess has spent her life dreaming of adventure and is thrilled to be tasked with such a quest. There’s only one thing that can dampen the princess’s excitement: Oraeyn. The squire views his task of protecting the princess on her journey as an inglorious assignment and makes no attempt to hide his disappointment.
Despite a rocky start to their journey – in which Oraeyn throws the obnoxious princess in a river just to get her to call him by name – the travelers soon learn that they must depend upon one another if they are to locate the man they have been sent to find.
The adventure merely begins when they meet Brant: a warrior with a mysterious past. He joins their cause readily, his heart smoldering with a vendetta Kamarie cannot completely understand. But whether she trusts him or not, the hope of their world rests on the steel he wears at his side….
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The world of this story is called Tellurae Aquaous. It is a world of kingdoms separated by oceans. There are eleven “island countries” each ruled separately from the others. Some are large, some are small, some are one big land mass, others are a sort of archipelago, and they each have their own individual terrains. Aom-igh, the realm in which the first story takes place, has a lot of forests, farm land, and a massive mountain range separating the northern and southern halves of the kingdom. There is also a beautiful cove that is magically shielded from the rest of the realm, a dangerous, rocky desert, and a hidden, underground network of enormous caves that is a kingdom unto itself.
If we were to visit Tellurae Aquaous as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Focusing on Aom-igh, because much of the story in all four books centers on that nation, I would definitely recommend you visit the capital city of Aom-igh: Ayollan. There is much in the city to be enjoyed. Inns, beautiful scenery, and good food are all to be found in plenty. There are also minstrels and artists who make their homes in the city, so entertainment and souvenirs are easily found. The palace is enormous and beautiful, and there are some enchanted rooms you won’t want to miss – definitely try to get a tour!
If you’re needing some peace and quiet, Pearl Cove is one of the hidden gems of this land. With sweeping white sand beaches, gently sloping dunes, and the sapphire ocean, this peaceful haven from the stresses of everyday life will soothe your cares away. You will also find the entrance to the underground realm of Krayghentaliss there, where you can catch a glimpse of the fabled Ember Stones, and visit the ancient libraries of the dragons.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, I would definitely recommend you hike in the Mountains of Dusk. It’s a wilderness, but not incredibly dangerous. Also, you might just be lucky enough to spot a dragon or a gryphon while you’re exploring!
What dangers should we avoid in Tellurae Aquaous?
You are definitely going to want to be on the lookout for were-folk. These are creatures who were created from leftover bits of shadow and darkness by an Ancient Enemy who wished to set himself up as the ruler of the land. These creatures are usually found in small groups. Nobody is sure just how many different kinds of were-folk there are, but they are nasty creatures who kill for pleasure. Seheowks are the most common of these creatures – they are tall, wiry, and vaguely human shaped but with clawed hands and feet. They dislike light and are terrified of fire. You generally don’t have to worry about them in Aom-igh, but they are a plague upon the rocky shores of Llycaelon.
There are also the usual dangers of falling when rock-climbing, drowning while crossing a river, or perishing in an attack from an invading army, as well as being stabbed in the back by a betrayer, but these are all ordinary, commonplace dangers that one might find anywhere, and should not in any way deter you from visiting our fine land.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Tellurae Aquaous?
The food you encounter will be slightly different from what you are used to, as it is prepared differently. There is a lot of bread and cheese. Soups and stews are common as they can be thrown into a pot with various vegetables and kept warm over the fire all day. Chicken, beef, and lamb are the common meats, though beef is considered a luxury. As people spend long hours outside working in the fields, herding animals, or traveling, a common food that you will find is a mixture of oats, finely chopped grains, raisins, and nuts all held together by honey in clumps. This is fondly known as “rations.”
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Tellurae Aquaous?
Swords, daggers, and bows are common in Tellurae Aquaous. The knights of Aom-igh are fairly traditional knights, though they wear light armor and fight with hand-and-a-half swords. In Llycaelon, all forms of fighting are taught and encouraged. The aethalons (warriors) of Llycaelon usually wear dark-colored leather armor and fight with swords or bows, though they are trained in many weapons.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Tellurae Aquaous?
Traveling is generally done on horseback, though carriages are also available upon request.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Tellurae Aquaous that we don’t see on Earth?
You may encounter dragons, gryphons, pegasus, unicorns, and mer-folk in Tellurae Aquaous. This is not guaranteed, however, as these creatures have not always been welcomed by humankind and have retreated from the world in many places. They also have the ability to shape-shift and take on other forms, so you may not always realize it when you meet one of these creatures. It is best to be polite to all strangers.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Tellurae Aquaous? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Magic in Tellurae Aquaous is hereditary, and based on one’s race. Dragons, of course, possess the greatest power. Unicorns have an unmatched ability to heal all kinds of ailments. Wizards and wizardesses are extremely rare, as there was a war many years ago and the population never recovered. The last great wizard died two decades ago, and though he left behind four daughters, they are not full wizardesses, as their mother was a mermaid.
Magic is a tool, used for good or ill by the one wielding it. There is no such thing as “evil magic” or “good magic” in this world. It is the user’s intent that determines the morality of this power. It can be used for healing, finding lost things, communicating across great distances, and creating protective shields. It can also be used to conquer, to create creatures such as the were-folk, or to bend another’s will to one’s purpose.
There are also a very few, extremely rare and precious objects within the confines of Tellurae Aquaous that possess a power of their own. These are objects that have been gifted to the world by Cruithaor Elchiyl (the Creator). One such item is Yorien’s Hand. Nobody knows what, exactly, Yorien’s Hand is, though legend states that it is a fallen star. Visitors to our fair land may view this powerful object in the Ruined Palace of the High Kings located on Emnolae… if they dare. Be warned, however, nobody looks upon Yorien’s Hand and remains unchanged!
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Tellurae Aquaous.
A notable game that is played by many in Tellurae Aquaous is a board game called Karradoc. This game is played on a board covered in 20×20 squares. Each player has a hand of cards, and chooses anywhere from 6-20 pieces to start. These pieces range in point value from 1-5, and regardless of number of pieces, each player must start with 30 points. All pieces may move in whatever direction they like (and may change direction mid-turn) however many spaces corresponds with their point value (e.g. 1 point pieces may move one space in any direction, but 5 point pieces may move 5 spaces in any direction and may change direction mid-turn) however, a piece may not touch any square twice in one turn.
A player captures his opponent’s piece by both moving one of his pieces onto the same square as that of his opponent’s piece and playing a “capture” token. Pieces can only be captured by a piece of equal or greater value, or with a token that allows for an eight-sided die (that has three 1s, two 2s, two 3s, and one 4 printed on it) to be rolled and added to the value of a token (thus a 1-point piece could, conceivably, capture a 5-point piece with a roll of 4).
The game ends when one player has captured all of his opponent’s pieces. The game is won by whomever has captured his opponent’s pieces OR by whomever has the most points left on the board once all the capture tokens have been used.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Tellurae Aquaous as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Days, weeks, and months are fairly similar in Tellurae Aquaous to what we experience on Earth. They refer to the seasons as New Term (Spring), Warm Term (Summer), Change Term (Fall), and Cold Term (Winter). In Aom-igh they celebrate birthdays and coronations and harvest time with great gusto. In Llycaelon they celebrate more sparingly, making a big deal out of individual achievements and attaining rank. In Yochathain they tend to celebrate anything and everything about life that one can think of.
A notable difference between Telluarae Aquaous and Earth is that they refer to the sun by the name “Dragon’s Eye” and the moon is called the “Toreth.”
Is there a particular religion practiced in Tellurae Aquaous? Please describe what it involves.
There is no religion per se. A widely held belief is that there is a Creator, and those who strive to follow his will know him more personally by his name: Cruithaor Elchiyl. Most people do not think much about the Creator, preferring to believe that he is distant and uninvolved in the trivial matters of daily life.
They are wrong, of course. He is very involved and cares deeply for the details of their lives and world. However, he prefers to work through his messengers and those who trust him.
What is the political or government structure in Tellurae Aquaous? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
As I said, the island countries are each ruled by their own king. However, there is precedent for a High King to rule over the entirety of Tellurae Aquaous in times of great danger and need. In order for someone to become High King, he must travel to Emnolae and touch the relic known as Yorien’s Hand. If the relic does not destroy him, then he is proven to be the rightful leader for that time.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Tellurae Aquaous?
Not among humans. It is best to be on one’s best behavior around myth-folk, however. Particularly around dragons. They are sticklers for proper etiquette and it is very important that you address them politely. They will usually excuse lack of correct manners and chalk it up to an incomplete education, but lack of any manners at all could get a person eaten. Also, it is very important never to look directly into a dragon’s eyes. They will hypnotize you and either control you or eat you, depending on their mood. They cannot help it, and will feel regretful later, but that won’t do you much good.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
The Harshlands of Aom-igh are a vast, windswept desert of rock and sand. The winds of that area are dangerous and deadly. The driving wind and tiny grains of sand will strip off exposed skin. I got this idea one day when my family and I went to the beach on Lake Michigan. It was extremely windy and I was the only one wearing shorts. The sand whipping against my legs hurt severely and everyone in my family laughed at me, not believing how much the sand truly hurt. So, I wrote it into my story in an attempt to describe it.
I think a lot of the ideas for locations in this story stem from places I’ve been. The Lake District in England, the countryside around Edinburgh, the forests I grew up exploring in Illinois, my camping adventure in Canada, the mountains in Colorado… every place I’ve been has flavored the locations I write about, even though I may not be consciously picking a specific area to “copy” these experiences are woven throughout my writing.
Jenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in North Carolina where the summers are too hot and there is never enough snow. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family storytimes. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?
Yorien’s Hand is coming soon!
Where can readers connect with you online?