When I first saw the cover of this book, it was hard to hold in my excitement. Like all the eeps. I first featured Alexandra Ott when I received a book from her Rules for Thieves series as part of a giveaway. Her new book, SEEKERS OF THE WILD REALM is the first in an exciting new Middle Grade fantasy series:
Twelve-year-old Bryn has always dreamed of becoming a Seeker, just like her dad. Only the Seekers are allowed to journey from their small village into the fantastical, untamed wilderness of their island known as the Wild Realm. Once there, they obtain magical items for the village and use magic to protect and heal the incredible creatures native to the Realm.
When one of the elderly Seekers retires, leaving a vacant position, Bryn knows this may be her chance. There’s just one problem: Only boys have ever been Seekers. And the training master makes it clear he will not be training a girl.
But then Bryn’s biggest rival for the Seeker position, a boy named Ari, shows up at her door. He reveals the baby dragon he’s been hiding, and the two strike a deal—if Bryn helps care for the dragon, Ari will share all his training with her.
Even as the two bond over their love of magical animals and their secret trips into the Wild Realm, Bryn doesn’t completely trust Ari’s motives. Especially as she suspects Ari may know more than he’s letting on about the enemy clan stirring up unrest in their village.
When all these secrets come to a head and the stakes are at their highest, Bryn realizes it’s up to her to save her family…and the Realm.
In our last interview, you mentioned how much you enjoy connecting with readers. What has been one of your favorite interactions with a reader and why?
Speaking with young readers is one of the best parts of my job! I’ve met so many bright, funny, and talented kids. Some of the best interactions are when kids tell me that my books inspired them to read and write more, or that one of my books made them “like” reading for the first time. One of my goals as a writer is to foster a love of reading, so I’m always thrilled to hear that!
I’ll bet! In SEEKERS OF THE WILD REALM, Bryn has to overcome a lot of obstacles. What is one obstacle you had to overcome while writing her story?
One of the most complicated parts of this book was developing all of the different magical creatures! I wanted to use classic, recognizable creatures like dragons and unicorns, but I also wanted to invent a few creatures of my own and give each of them unique magical abilities and traits. I spent a lot of time figuring out everything about the magical creatures, from their habitats to their behaviors to their diets, and it all had to make sense within the world of the Realm. Bringing everything together was a challenge, but I’m very proud of the result.
That does seem hard, and it sounds like your efforts paid off. What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about Middle Grade fantasy novels?
Oh, there are so many! But I think one of the biggest misconceptions is the idea that middle grade fiction is overly simplistic or childish. In reality, young readers are smart and savvy, and they demand both complexity and entertainment in their books. Good middle grade novels must meet those demands without talking down to readers and while always engaging a young audience. To quote Madeleine L’Engle: “If the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
Yet another reason to love Madeleine L’Engle! What has been most helpful to you during this time of social isolation?
My puppy! I adopted a tiny fluffball named Ellie a few months before the pandemic began, and she’s made staying at home so much more bearable. Of course, she also makes working more difficult—most of my writing happens when she’s asleep, because when she’s awake, she demands attention! But having her companionship in my home office makes a world of difference, even if she does sometimes sleep on the keyboard. 🙂
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