I’m excited to introduce you to a fellow writer I met through a wonderful Facebook writers group, Clean Indie Reads. Please welcome speculative fiction writer Annie Douglass Lima!
I was intrigued when I met Annie because she currently lives in my place of birth (Taiwan) and teaches at a school that one of my girlfriends taught at before. Plus, I always appreciate authors who can write genres I can’t write, and Annie definitely falls into that category. I haven’t read her books (yet), but this review from Publisher’s Weekly proves her writing is wow-worthy:
“What looks, at first blush, like a Hunger Games pastiche turns out to be anything but. First in the Krillonian Chronicles series, Lima’s novel is an uneven but gripping tale of loyalty, captivity, and redemption.”
So without further ado, let’s get to know Annie and her books better. Be sure to read to the bottom to enter the giveaway for an Amazon gift card or a digital copy of her book!
Hi Annie, thanks for joining us today! Please tell us a little about yourself and what a day in your life looks like.
I was born in Southern California but raised mostly in Kenya. After college (in Southern California), I spent a year teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Indonesia, which was an incredible experience. Shortly after returning to the States, I married my husband Floyd, and the two of us lived in California for several years. Eventually all the pieces fell into place for us to move overseas together, and now we’re serving at Morrison Academy, an international school in Taiwan. I’ve been teaching fifth grade here for nearly nine years now, and I love it!
During the week, my day often starts when the alarm rings at 5:00 a.m. I like to begin by reading my Bible over breakfast, and then I often go out jogging around the track. (I read books on my Kindle as I jog – as soon as I discovered this ability, my motivation to exercise went up several thousand percent!)
I’m usually in my classroom by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., at which point I squeeze in some writing if I’m ready for the school day. School goes from 7:50 to 3:15 on most days. After school, I plan lessons and get ready for the next day, and then if my brain isn’t too fried from a day of teaching, I work on my own writing again. In the evenings after dinner, I write some more or catch up with my author groups on Facebook. Most of my best writing happens on weekends or school holidays.
What started you on your writing career?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can recall. When I was seven years old, I had a sudden inspiration for what I thought was an amazing story and decided then and there that I was going to write a book and be the world’s youngest author. I ran to my room in great excitement, found an old notebook and a pencil, and started in. Well, that first novel was never actually finished, let alone published, but it got me started. After that, I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t working on at least one book. Prince of Alasia, which I started in college, was the first one I finished that I thought was worth trying to get published. I looked into traditional publishing and spent a long time trying to get an agent, but to no avail. Finally I learned about Kindle publishing and did it myself the indie way, eleven years after I first started writing the book. A few months later I added the paperback edition. It was quite a thrill to me to finally fulfill my childhood dream! Now I’ve published a total of twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of my students’ poetry).
What do you like most about the genre(s) you write? What do you like the least?
Speculative fiction in some form (fantasy, sci-fi, alternate reality, etc.) is just plain fun to write. Reality simply doesn’t give me enough freedom! I don’t think there’s anything I dislike about writing in this genre.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your new book. Which character(s) do you relate to the most?
I’ve had the idea growing in my mind for the last few years. It started as just a picture of the setting and its culture: a world almost exactly like ours, but with legalized slavery. The main characters, Bensin (a teenage slave and martial artist) and Steene (his owner and coach) emerged gradually, along with the plot (in the first book, Bensin’s struggle to protect and free his younger sister, and in the second, his struggle to survive as a gladiator).
The Gladiator and the Guard is book 2 in the Krillonian Chronicles, book 1 being The Collar and the Cavvarach. The stories take place in a world almost exactly like our own. Although most aspects of the culture are just about what they are currently on Earth, a few sports are different, such as the martial art known as cavvara shil. The main difference, however, is that slavery is legal there.
The Krillonian Empire rules much of the world. An emperor, who is never named, governs from the capital city, Krillonia, on the continent known as Imperia. Eight separate provinces (originally independent nations before they were conquered) can be found on nearby continents. Each province, plus Imperia, is allowed to elect its own legislature and decide on many of its own laws, but the emperor reserves the right to veto any of them and make changes as he sees fit. This seldom happens, however, and to most people the emperor is merely a vague and distant ceremonial figure.
The prevalence of slavery is probably what would stand out the most to visitors from Earth. There are nearly as many slaves in the city of Jarreon, where both books take place, as free people, and they are easily identified by the steel collars they are required to wear locked around their necks. From each collar hangs a tag inscribed with the slave’s name, their owner’s name, and a copy of their owner’s signature. On the back of the tag is their owner’s phone number and a bar code that can be scanned to access additional information.
Many families own one or more slaves who do their housework and yardwork. Businesses often own a large number of slaves, usually for manual labor, though some are trained for more complex tasks. Those who don’t own their own slaves may “hire in” one belonging to someone else. The accepted rate for an hourly wage is two-thirds the amount that a free person would earn for equivalent labor (the money goes to the slave’s owner, of course).
To read more about the culture of the Krillonian Empire, take a look at this post on my blog.
My favorite character in this book is definitely Bensin. The struggles he is forced to go through make him stronger, and I admire him for his perseverance and determination to meet his goals no matter what. He is willing to sacrifice himself for those he cares about, and while his choices aren’t always the wisest, he is committed to doing what he feels is right. Society is against him, since he’s a slave and has few rights, but that doesn’t stop him.
What do you hope readers will learn/gain from reading this story?
I hope readers will realize, as Bensin eventually does, that we can all choose the type of person we want to be, no matter what our circumstances are. We might not have a say in what happens to us, but we can decide how we will respond and who we will be.
Thank you, Annie, for giving us a glimpse into your life and books!
Annie’s young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.
First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1:
Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?
What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?
The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal there. Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).
Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.
And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!
Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?
Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.
Connect with the Author Online:
Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!