I have a very special guest on the blog today. My good friend, Alina Sayre, has just released the third book in her Middle Grade fantasy series, Voyages of the Legend. She’s being kept pretty busy bouncing around various blogs for her tour, and was kind enough to take some time to join us here and talk about some of the inspiration behind the book’s settings. So, without further ado…
Travel is something I’ve always enjoyed (though I also enjoy coming home afterwards). As a writer, though, I don’t just take in sights and sounds when I travel—I also keep notes for future story settings. And in my latest book, The Illuminator Rising, some of those notes found a home. Three major settings in this book are based on real travels I’ve taken.
When I was twelve, my family and I traveled to the big island of Hawai’i, home to some of the most active volcanoes in the world. I remember trekking across the lava fields, the black rock sharp and shiny as glass, to a spot where fresh lava was flowing. The slow, viscous stream of orange, already turning black as it was exposed to air, was mesmerizing—an unfiltered experience with nature that struck me with both its beauty and danger. I remember watching the lava eventually pour off a cliff, clouds of steam rising as it hit the ocean waves. New land was forming before my eyes. It was an arresting experience, and one that eventually became a central setting for The Illuminator Rising.
One thing that sets this book apart from its prequels is that the crew actually splits up and travels to different islands. One of these islands was based on a family roadtrip across the American Southwest a few years ago. Though deserts are not my favorite places (excessive heat makes me cranky), there was something alien and beautiful about the rocky landscape. One of my hobbies is photography, so I really enjoyed a stop at Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Though you can see very little sky from the bottom of the narrow slot canyon (my claustrophobia was going crazy), the light still filters in and ricochets off the sandstone walls, making these crazy, amazing patterns of light and shadow that change every minute. The vivid colors and textures of that landscape formed the basis for one of the islands in The Illuminator Rising.
The other island was a blend of two places I’ve been. While studying abroad in college, a friend and I did a weekend adventure to southern Spain, where we saw architectural marvels like the Alhambra in Granada and the Real Alcazar in Sevilla. I loved the Moorish artistic influence, with its keyhole-shaped doorways, intricate tilework, and roofs like spun sugar. Blend that together with a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, and you get something like my other island in The Illuminator Rising. I especially fell in love with Turkish food and had tons of fun describing the banquets here! I even saw a baby tortoise half the size of my palm at an archaeological site. It was so tiny and adorable that I knew I’d have to put it in a book.
Of course, some aspects of every island in the book are purely fantasy. That’s one of the fun things about this genre! But experiences in real life definitely added color—and flavor—to the island landscapes in this book. I hope that reading the book gives you all the pleasure of taking your own travels!
Synopsis of The Illuminator Rising, Book 3 of The Voyages of the Legend:
Driven from their home island of Rhynlyr, Ellie and her friends must solve a riddle to find the survivors of the Vestigia Roi. But instead of a safe haven, they discover a hopeless band of refugees paralyzed by fear. Strengthened by new allies and new gifts, the crew of the Legend faces dangers like never before. Can they escape being shot out of the sky, falling over the Edge of the world, or being engulfed by urken armies long enough to rally the Vestigia Roi? And can they rekindle a fire from the ashes of the One Kingdom before Draaken takes over the world?
“…a thrilling read…[Sayre] has a flair for being able to capture the interest of a reader and hold onto it.”
-Readers’ Favorite, 5-star review
Get your copy on Amazon today!
Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Now she gets to work with them every day as an author, educator, editor, and speaker. Her first novel, The Illuminator’s Gift, won a silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, and all three books in The Voyages of the Legend series have received 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite. When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys hiking, crazy socks, and reading under blankets. She does not enjoy algebra or wasabi. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.
Catch up on the first two books, The Illuminator’s Gift and The Illuminator’s Test on Amazon.