Narrator: Neal Arango
Length: 8 hours 59 minutes
Publisher: Maria Farb⎮2020
Genre: YA; Fantasy
Series: The King Trials, Book 1
Release date: May 12, 2020
By day, Yosyph appears nothing more than a mute tavern-hand. By night, he plans a revolution and slips through shadow, rescuing those marked for death by the xenophobic queen.
When he learns that thousands of his people will be sent as slaves to the mines, he must choose — fight the royal army with an ill-prepared rebellion or journey to the land of his ancestors through the deadly King's Trial. If he succeeds, he'll win his kin's loyalty and their help.
His journey grows complicated when he rescues a maiden and enrages a prince, but if he doesn't return with help in time, the people he's loved and secretly served will be gone.
Whitney Awards Nominee 2019
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I love creating a solid world for the ghost-like stories that flit across my imagination. I write to see where the story will go and what the hero or heroine will do. I find that the story form is often the best way to explore relationships, deep ideas, and flights of fancy. I understand the world, others, and myself better as I write.
A huge bonus of publishing is seeing the joy of my readers as they experience those worlds and explore those ideas.
2. What inspired you to become an author, and how old were you at the time?
Some of my earliest memories are laying on the carpet listening to my dad read. We explored the worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth. We cried with Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place. We voyaged with The Kon-Tiki and to Grass Beyond the Mountains.
As a teen I made up stories to help my little sisters go to sleep. It backfired. We stayed up for hours continuing the tale. The King’s Trial was born in those late, whispered nights.
I started writing seriously when my youngest child slept consistently through the night.
3. How much time per week would you spend writing? Or are you a full-time author?
I'm a full-time mother of six.
I write in the early morning before anyone wakes up, sometimes in the afternoon when kids are playing, and in the evening when my husband plays with our kids. The early morning hours are my favorite and most productive writing times. On a good day I can get several thousand words before anyone else wakes up.
I keep a notebook handy to capture ideas when I don't have time to write. My rushed penmanship is near unreadable, even for me, so I type up all my notes each evening.
4. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?
Write every day. Even if it’s a hundred words. Try flash fiction. Try poetry. Explore the different types of writing. Find what you love.
I spent about twelve years of motherhood where the only writing I did was journaling. But those twelve years of journaling added up to a couple million words and when I reached the phase of life when I had time to create stories, I’d already developed a writing habit.
Find some beta-readers or a critique group. Writing is a very personal endeavor but beta-readers help the writer see the story’s blind spots and they also help cheer the writer on when in a writer’s slump.
Get an ergonomic keyboard. It’s a life saver on the wrists.
5. What gets your creative juices going?
Dreams. I live with a vivid imagination. I dream in 3-D, technicolor, and occasionally with my eyes open. This is a bane when it comes to nightmares. I will not watch horror movies. This same imagination makes writing easier. I not only see but also experience what I'm writing. Some nights I wake up with whole scenes playing through my head, vivid with setting, dialog, action, and emotion. I scribble furiously in the 2am glow of the kitchen nightlight, then catch more sleep.
Another creative jump-start is talking out story ideas with my husband, children, or my writing friends.
Most of all, books are fuel to my imagination. I read all the time and in many genres.
6. Which character was the easiest to write, and who was the hardest to write?
Halavant was easy. He came with personality and voice. I just typed what he said and did, though there were a few times I had to tone down his words.
Katrin changed from draft to draft until I was ready to just remove her from the story. Then I found her, the true her under all her pride and show, and finally understood her.
Yosyph was in between the other two in difficulty. He’s a private person, who didn’t acknowledge his own emotions at the start of the story. He became easier to write as he grew and developed, though he remained true to his solitary character.
7. If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? What food would you serve?
Galliard. He makes me laugh. He also isn’t particular about food. He’d be happy with a wrinkled apple or porridge, as long as the company is pleasant. I’d serve a chicken-bacon-poppyseed salad, fresh baked sourdough bread slathered in butter, and grapes to the side.
8. Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
I posted an audition script on ACX along with a synopsis of my book and specifics on each character. After I received many auditions, I shared the recordings with a select number of readers to get their responses. I finally selected one narrator who captured the voicing and personality of my characters best.
The narrator, Neal Arango, is a joy to work with. He asked detailed questions. I sent him pronunciation guides and further information on each character and story setting. He recorded and posted each chapter. I listened to each, made notes of any little changes, and he made adjustments as needed.
I'm grateful for Mr. Arango's talented and professional work, his quick responses, and his efforts to create the story as I envisioned it sounding. He did excellent work.
9. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
Some of my first memories were of my dad reading to us. I read to my kids almost daily. Isn't that an audio book experience? A good story, whether taken in through the eyes or the ears, is still a good story—and worth enjoying, learning from, and growing through.
Other personal blessings and benefits of audio books. 1) We can listen while traveling, cleaning, and waiting. 2) One of my sons has dyslexia. Audio books open up a world of stories he'd otherwise likely never experience. 3) Audio books allow us to survive our yearly 22-hour drive to see extended family with most of our sanity, and even enjoy it.
10. What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
I’m a book loving, tree climbing, adventurous, curious, philosophical, mother of six.
I write to relax. It energizes me and gives me a break. I also relax by reading. There are so many good books that I rarely take time to watch a movie, though I thoroughly enjoy Pixar and Studio Ghibli.
– Concocting new varieties of salads so we don’t heat our house. We have no AC, so it is a fun challenge in the summer.
– Reading to my children, using all the character voices. Right now we are reading The Legendary Inge, by Kate Stradling.
– “Geeking out” with my husband—talking about fun, random happenings and deep, philosophical ideas.
– Climbing: trees, firemen poles, mountains, rock walls, etc.
Other hobbies that I haven’t done in a while but I’d love to do again:
- scuba diving
- horseback riding