Tag Archives: A Necklace of Souls

Interview with R.L. Stedman

author photoR.L. Stedman is the author of the award winning A Necklace of Souls.  She has just released the sequel, A Skillful Warrior, which carries on the story of Dana and Will (read all about it here).  I had a few questions for Rachel about her new book, her journey to publication and what stories she has for us next.  You can read her answers below and enter the draw to win a copy of the new edition of A Necklace of Souls.

  • I was very excited to hear that you had written a sequel to A Necklace of Souls!  Can you tell us a little about what happens in A Skillful Warrior?

In Skillful, Dana and Will, along with N’tombe and Jed, have left the Kingdom of the Rose. They are searching for a weapon that can defeat the army of the emperor. This quest should be straightforward, but of course its not. There’s an army following them, they don’t really know what the weapon is and Dana is having really, really bad dreams. And when I say bad, I mean they’re a lot worse than the average nightmare. And then Jed gets entangled with a pirate-woman and … No. I don’t want to give too much away! But basically the story is about both Will and Dana beginning to realise what they can do, and in learning to be comfortable with their abilities. I kind of think of Skillful as Dana growing up.

skillfulwarrior-stedman-ebookweb

  • A Necklace of Souls won the Tessa Duder Award and the Best First Book Award at the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  What do awards like these mean to you as an author? Do they motivate you to keep writing?

The awards are nice, and its cool to be able to see stickers on your book that say ‘winner of so and so’ like it makes you amazing but TBH it doesn’t mean that much in terms of sales. However, I do enjoy putting ‘Award-Winning Author’ under my name! The awards don’t motivate me to continue writing, because I love writing so much that I would do it regardless. But I think the fact that I’ve won a few prizes now helps to give people confidence that my books are (hopefully) a good read.

  • You have self-published A Skillful Warrior, the reprint of A Necklace of Souls and your thriller, Inner Fire.  What has your journey to publication been like since your first book?

Quite tricky, would be the honest truth. A number of publishers were interested in Skillful but they all said the market for YA fiction in New Zealand is very limited, and after thinking about it for a few months, most said no. But over this time I was getting emails from readers pleading for the sequel (Skillful is dedicated to a reader from Norway!) and I felt I had to get it published just for them. So that’s why I decided to do it myself.

Inner Fire was my trial piece, I wanted to learn how to self-publish on something different to Necklace, in case it all went terribly wrong or was a total failure…In actual fact though, self-publishing (I prefer to call it “independant publishing”) has been more fun than I had thought. I’ve loved being able to chose my own cover designs – I’ve worked with two different covers for Necklace and I love both. I really enjoy the look and feel of the books; the paper is nice and thick, the layout looks professional and the binding is really solid. It’s nice to hold it in your hands!

Independent publishing offers an author a lot more freedom. When you’ve put your heart and soul into a book, it is very rewarding to be able to call all the shots on how it is presented. I like the way I can chose my own illustrations and my own font and chose the price it will retail at. I like being in control of my own timeline, too.

I don’t think it would suit everyone but I’m fortunate that it does work for me. I have a business degree and do a lot of contracting/project work in my day job – that experience has helped me a lot.

  • What books would you recommend to those who have enjoyed A Necklace of Souls and A Skillful Warrior?

The Belgariad by David Eddings

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardego,

Any book by Juliet Marilliar.

The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Under the Mountain by Maurice Gee.

The Merlin Chronicles by Mary Stewart.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

  • You have a book coming soon for younger readers.  What is it about?

It’s called The Prankster and the Ghost. It was shortlisted for the Tom Fitzgibbon Award in 2012 as Practically Joking. I love it so much! It’s funny and sad and (warning) contains lots of practical jokes.

The story is about two boys (I always seem to have two protagonists, I really need to stop that), called Tayla and Jamie.

Tayla is in a car accident. In pain, he pushes himself out of his body, and begins to haunt the hospital ward. Being a ghost is kind of boring, although it does allow him to play some excellent practical jokes on the nurses. Until an inspector arrives on the ward. ‘I’m sending you to school,’ she says. ‘Because every child deserves an education, even if they’re dead.’ Tayla thinks this is stupid. What’s the point in educating dead kids? Besides, he isn’t dead. He’s just not in his body.

Meanwhile, Jamie, newly arrived from Scotland, finds no-one can understand his accent. All his practical jokes go badly wrong, and at his new school there are some ruins that he’s sure are haunted…

Prankster is set in North Otago and is about friendship and learning to live with loss. And practical jokes, of course. It’s suitable for ages 8 upwards.

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Sequel to the award-winning A Necklace of Souls

A Necklace of Souls was one of my favourite books of 2013.  Written by fantastic local author, R.L. Stedman, A Necklace of Souls won the Tessa Duder Award in 2013 and went on to win the Best First Book Award at the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  It’s a truly original fantasy story that follows Dana as she comes to terms with having to bear the burden of the Necklace of Souls.  You can read my review here on the blog.

A Necklace of Souls finished on a cliff-hangar and I’ve been waiting to find out what happens next for Dana and Will.  I’m pleased to say that the wait is finally over.  The sequel, A Skillful Warrior, is available now (as an ebook exclusive) on Amazon.  Here is the blurb and the wonderful cover:

‘The warrior’s principal task: to make each moment count.’

Dana and Will must find the weapon to defeat the Emperor. But his army is close behind and the Kingdom and its Guardian have vanished – only N’tombe and Jed remain. As the comrades flee, Dana is hampered by dreams of dragons and by a deep, unbearable sorrow. A fire is coming, and she is in its path. Dana and Will must learn to overcome despair and to fight on, despite the darkness. For a warrior must adapt, or die.

R.L. Stedman has also republished A Necklace of Souls with a new cover too so look out for this one:

Grab A Skillful Warrior and A Necklace of Souls now on your e-reader.

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Fast Five with Rachel Steadman

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

Because I love reading so much. I could never find enough books that were exactly what I wanted to read. So that’s why I wrote my own.

  • What’s the best thing about being a writer?

You get to write :).  Most writers seem to really like finding out new things. I think most writers are little like ‘fact magpies’ we get to learn new stuff every day and we can call it ‘research.’ For example, through writing A Necklace of Souls, I learned a lot about knife fighting. I read a whole lot (and watched a lot of you-tube videos) about Kali knife fighting, which is from the Philippines. And I know how long an English longbow is – over seven foot. That is taller than most men. Do you know, if you use a long bow a lot, the bones in one arm grow heavier than the other? Skeletons of archers have bigger left arm-bones than the right.  That is why writing is so cool, you get to learn random stuff every day. (Makes you good in quizzes, too!)

  • What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

I have lots of favourite books. It’s pretty hard to pick just one. At the moment, my favourite NZ book is Tu, by Patricia Grace, because I like her descriptions of how war changes a family.

  • What do you love most about New Zealand?

I love the wide open skies and the white-topped mountains. And I like the way you can walk along a beach and see only your footprints. And I like the way you find strange things in unexpected places. Like last week we went to Hampden Beach, near Moeraki, and dolphins swam past.

What do you love most about libraries?

The books! And the friendly librarians…

Rachel Steadman is the author of the wonderful new YA fantasy, A Necklace of Souls.  When she’s not writing Rachel works for the Ministry of Health and she enjoys hiking, cycling, running and reading.

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A Necklace of Souls by R.L. Steadman

Thanks to the various book prizes that are awarded both here in New Zealand and overseas there have been some fantastic new authors for children and young adults discovered.  Some of my favourite authors have won the Text Prize in the last few years, including Richard Newsome and Leanne Hall, which has started them on their writing career.  The Tessa Duder Award is a relatively new award in New Zealand and it is given annually to the unpublished author of a work of fiction for young adults aged 13 and above.  Last year’s very deserving winner was Rachel Stedman.  I’m extremely glad she won because her book, A Necklace of Souls is a brilliant fantasy that left me awestruck.  It has just been published in New Zealand, just in time for NZ Book Month.

In the hidden Kingdom of the Rose a Guardian protects her people with the help of a magical necklace. But evil forces are also seeking the necklace, and as the Guardian grows weaker these forces threaten to destroy the Kingdom. Dana, the rightful heir, must claim the necklace and save her people. Her duty is clear: to protect her homeland she must submit to the power of the necklace. But all power comes at a price – a price that Dana may not be willing to pay.

A Necklace of Souls is gripping, dark fantasy that sweeps you up takes you on a wild ride.  It has reignited my love of fantasy stories.  R.L. Steadman transported me to a medieval world similar to ours, where illness and war has ripped through the world leaving death in its wake.  The one place that is safe, clean and peaceful is the Kingdom of the Rose, a magical, legendary place that is protected by a guardian.  We’re introduced to the two characters who are central to the story – Will and Dana.  Will lives outside the walls of the kingdom with a loving family, until the plague reaches his town and he is one of the only survivors.  Luckily for Will, his Auntie and Uncle provide safe passage for him into the Kingdom, where he becomes an apprentice.  It is inside the walls of the Kingdom that he meets Dana, the princess with a very important role to play.

I found the story absolutely fascinating.  Rachel draws you in with the mystery surrounding the Kingdom, the necklace and its Guardian, Dana’s strange gift of true dreaming, and the threat from an army from a far off land.  You know that all these pieces of the puzzle fit together somehow and you don’t want to stop reading until you find out how.  N’tombe was one of the characters that intrigued me the most because her past was so shadowy.  One of the things I liked most about the story was that, even when you got to the very last page, there is still a sense of mystery to the characters.

The story initially alternates between Will and Dana, but focuses more on Dana as the story progresses.  I found it interesting that Dana’s story was narrated by her, but Will’s story was told in the third person.  This seemed to fit the story though and I really enjoyed switching between the two.  Dana and Will are both wonderful characters but Dana stood out more for me.  She’s definitely not your average princess!  She’s not afraid to get dirty, she’s a skilled fighter, and she’s not interested in being the center of attention or attending to her royal duties.  She’s the complete opposite of her mother, who is incredibly vain and more interested in her face creams than the welfare of her people.  Dana’s journey through the course of the story and the burden she has to carry has a huge effect on her.

A Necklace of Souls is a story that will stay with me for a long time and I hope that there is more of Dana and Will’s story to come.  I think that A Necklace of Souls can stand proudly beside the likes of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, and Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina as a great fantasy story for teens and adults alike.  Everybody should go out and buy a copy for NZ Book Month and support this wonderful New Zealand author.

5 out of 5 stars

 

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