Keira Gillett (Author): Greetings everyone! The second book in the trilogy, Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword, features an amazing voice talent, Michele Carpenter. Be sure to check out the other parts of this interview series to read more about what it takes to be a young adult/middle grade narrator. We’ve been having a lot of fun talking about the book and the series, so let’s dive right in. Michele, can you share a sample from your work process?
Michele Carpenter (Narrator): This is 7 minutes of unedited narration. I felt like it was real and sometimes comical, as it shows what narrating is often like for me.
Keira: Were you surprised, scared, disappointed, etc. with any part of the second book?
Michele: Disappointed that Zaria still hasn’t met a mermaid, possibly, lol! Or a unicorn… But what she has encountered isn’t your normal, everyday, frilly fluff like that. She’s meeting ‘real’ creatures from the fairy tale world, like mountain giants and ellefolken ladies. So that’s pretty awesome.
I was scared at the end when Zaria decided to be brave and conquer her fears, and surprised at the outcome of the confrontation through the mirror with…
Keira: Sh! No spoilers! Haha. I’m glad you liked those scenes. Zaria and her friends will meet a water creature in the next book. It won’t be a mermaid though. Who would you cast as Zaria Fierce in a movie? Any ideas for other characters?
Michele: That’s a tough one. Teens grow up too quickly to really pick someone the right age.
Skai Jackson could be pretty great as Zaria. She’s adorable, lovable and talented. It’d be neat to see her with violet eyes.
Maybe Mitchell Hope for Hart…?
Ryan Potter, who played Hiro in Big Hero 6 might make a good Christoffer.
Keira: Ooooo… I like your picks! If Zaria ever becomes a movie franchise, I’ll have to bring you along to help me cast… that is if I get a say. 😉 How do you keep track of the voices from book to book?
Michele: Well, reviewing is a big part of it, but sometimes that’s not enough. I started out trying to imitate my previous voices without remembering the heart of why I gave them those voices and it didn’t go so well.
I also have to remember what/who my inspiration for that character was. I often have another character or actor in my head that I was imitating to create someone’s voice. Remembering those really helps.
I have to admit, I really wanted to try to use the voice of the Goblin King, Jerreth, for the voice of Koll, but dog-gone-it, I totally forgot and gave him a different voice. Will he slowly morph into Jerreth in the next book? I can’t say he won’t, lol.
Keira: Well I think you nailed getting the voices to sound the same the second time around and I love your new characters, too, like Granny. She’s fantastic. Do you read the book in full before you record?
Michele: I always prefer to, yes. Do I always read the book in full first? No, I don’t. And it can cause you to run into unpleasant surprises further down the book.
Keira: I bet! That’s why I tried to give you hints as to where I saw some character arcs going from one book to the next. Thank you so much, Michele for talking with us!
Book Two in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy
Summary: If Zaria Fierce had her say, being a princess would mean you’d never have to wait for news. In the eight months since Olaf tricked her, Zaria has felt a near constant mixture of restlessness, listlessness, and hopelessness. When the time comes to fix past mistakes, she is more than ready to climb aboard the ship sailing towards the giants. Summertime in Norway promises many more adventures, but also many more perils… something sinister lurks beneath the surface following her every move, haunting her, disturbing her dreams, and stealing her peace. Can Zaria figure out what it is and stop it before it’s too late?
Release Date: November 6, 2015
See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here.
Audio Book Samples
Praise for Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest (Book 1):
“Are you in the mood for an old fashioned magical jaunt? Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett is a classic “perilous adventure” book for middle grade readers.” Jennifer Bardsley, The YA Gal
“A captivating blending of fantasy storytelling with today’s technology. At the base of this tale is deep, abiding friendship that stands the tests of time, adventure and even danger.” Kathy Haw, Goodreads Review
“A great book with a lovely story and amazing characters. It’s a fantasy and adventure book that will be the delight of Narnia fans and those looking for a bit of Norwegian folklore thrown into it.” Ner, A Cup of Coffee and a Book
“If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure dipped in fantasy, look no further. This book kept me on my toes with its many cliffhangers and plot twists; it was quite hard to put down at times.” Meredith, All ‘Bout Them Books and Stuff
“I love when a story jumps right in and hooks me like this one did. I highly recommend you look into it if you are in the mood for a fun adventure. I also recommend that you get it for any book loving middle schooler you know.” Emily, Midwestern Book Nerd
Filip slung his window open and tossed out his backpack. It landed in a thump in the hedgerow. Aleks pulled it out and slung it over his shoulder with his own bag.
“How’re you getting down?”
“Hopefully with your stargazer.”
“Then why toss down your bag?” Aleks asked, exasperated.
“Just in case,” Filip said with a wink at Zaria.
She suppressed a smile. She looked to the others, “Does anybody have rope?”
Aleks and Geirr both nodded. Then Geirr unzipped his bag and pulled out a neat coil from on top. He tossed it to Filip, who snatched it up as it sailed by the window. He disappeared into his bedroom and reappeared moments later slinging the coil out the window. It unraveled to the ground.
“Good,” Filip said briskly. “It’s long enough. Now let’s see if it holds.”
Filip quickly scaled the side of the house and they gathered their belongings preparing to dash. Without warning, Mrs. Storstrand stuck her head out of a bottom window and shrieked at the sight of them.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“Run!” Filip shouted, grabbing his friends’ sleeves and rushing for the street.
Aleks cursed and threw Filip his backpack while slinging his own around to the front and unzipping a pocket. He looked frazzled as he dug inside the opening. Mrs. Storstrand was quick. She was already out of the house and chasing after them. She threatened life and limb and the most terrible of all – letting Filip’s father know what he was about.
At last Aleks found the stargazer – a shiny purplish egg-shaped object perforated with stars – and almost dropped it in his haste. After a brief fumble, Aleks located the largest star, and hastily jabbed his finger into the hole. Just like that, Mrs. Storstrand froze mid-run. But so too did Christoffer, Filip, and Geirr.
Aleks looked at Zaria and to the others. “Damn,” he hissed. “Wait! How are you not frozen too?”
Author Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.
Narrator Bio: Michele Carpenter is an artist at heart, with a passion for acting. She and her husband (also a voice actor) often work on projects together and help one another through the journey. Together, they have three kids. Michele’s children love to hear her read stories and beg her to edit her narrations in the same room with them so they can listen too. It’s partially for this reason that Michele has come to feel a personal responsibility to only record books that aren’t inappropriate for children or young adults–at their respective age levels and according to the maturity levels of the books they’re able to read. “We never know how long we have on this earth and I’d rather leave behind a legacy of books that I’m not ashamed to have my friends, family and even future grandchildren, listen to forever.”