Monday, October 8, 2012

Author Laurisa White Reyes
In Conversation

Laurisa White Reyes
by Lupe Fernandez

Laurisa White Reyes is the author of The Rock of Ivanore, a middle grade fantasy about an enchanter's apprentice, Marcus Frye, who crosses the Isle of Imanes and encounters monsters, treachery and his destiny.

Besides writing, Laurisa is also a voracious reader. She also loves musical theater, chocolate, sushi, ancient history, bearded dragons, and rain storms. She lives in Southern California with her husband, 5 children, 4 birds, 2 lizards, 2 turtles, 1 fish, 1 dog, and a partridge in a pear tree.
“Reyes deftly develops her plot and characters and firmly holds readers' attention throughout this exciting and surprising tale.” – School Library Journal
How did you come up with names like Quendel, Ivanore, or language from the “ancient tongue”? 
It was very complicated. I conducted hours of research, and…

No. Not really. I just made them up as I went along. Even the title of the book was off the cuff. If a name sounded good, I used it. I actually tried not to make the names too difficult to pronounce. Many of them are just everyday-type names with slight changes (ie. Jayson, Kelvin, Bryn). Since it is a book for younger readers, I wanted the names to sound “fantastical” without being heavy-handed. When I read a book and I have to stop to sound out words, it detracts from the overall reading experience.

At what point during your process did you draw the Isle of Imaness map? 
I am so glad you asked that question! I sketched out a very rough map with pencil while I was still writing the first draft. I needed to have some sort of visual reference so I could get the directions right. When the draft was done, I took my truly awful sketch to my dear friend Kathy Everts, who is a talented artist. I gave her my manuscript and the drawing and asked her to make me a map because, as everyone knows, every fantasy novel must have a map. She drew this gorgeous pen and ink sketch on parchment which I still have framed in my bedroom. When the book finally was published, she had to draw one more because some of the directions and locations had changed during the revision process.
“Young readers…will delight in this opening title in The Celestine Chronicles series, which delivers a fantasy adventure for a reluctant readership.” – Booklist
Kathy Everts, Map and Laurisa
Will the following books include a map of the mainland? 
Yes! The sequel, The Last Enchanter (tentatively due out in 2013) still takes place on The Isle of Imaness. But in the third book, Marcus and Jayson take off for Hestoria. I am working on a sketch of that map right now. Also, I’ve written a hefty prequel called The Crystal Keeper, but I don’t have a publisher for it yet. It begins a separate series all its own for a YA audience, and follows Jayson and Ivanore during that fourteen year separation only mentioned briefly in The Rock of Ivanore.

Why did you choose to tell the story in third person personal with alternating views of Marcus, Jayson and others? 
Two reasons, really. The first was that I was a brand new writer back then and didn’t know any better. (chuckle)

While I was still in the early stages of writing I attended the summer SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles and heard an agent say that children’s books should always be written in a single point of view. My silent response to that was – Why?

I was reading The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown at the time and was fascinated with his technique of writing from three points of view. He uses it as a device to heighten anticipation and tension in the story. I wanted to achieve that sort of thing in The Rock of Ivanore. I also disagreed with the perception that children were incapable of keeping track of multiple points of view. In fact, from observing my own children, I believed they were more than capable. Today’s kids are great multi-taskers. If they can handle fast-paced video games, and movies, and smart phones and the internet, they could surely manage three points of view in a novel. And I was right. The kids who have read The Rock of Ivanore, love it.
“Marcus is a hero who engages challenges in a way that is both human and admirable.” – Publisher’s Weekly
How did you avoid getting too carried away in world building? 
Great novels for kids are all about the story and the characters. No matter what the genre. In fantasy, it is vital to establish the world in which the story takes place, but once that’s done, move on. The description of The Isle of Imaness is light. I give just enough to get the ball rolling, but kids have amazing imaginations and I wanted each reader to build the world to his liking in his own mind. I was more interested in allowing the readers to fall in love with Marcus, and Jayson and Bryn than I was in them getting really caught up in the world of Imaness.

You review books on your blog, A Thousand Wrongs. What happens if you don’t like a book? Do you still review it? 
I don’t read very many books, actually. I try, but I’m a very slow reader. I read on average about 30 books a year, and I like to choose for myself what those books will be. So very rarely do I read a book I don’t like, though it does occur from time to time. Usually I just won’t finish it. If I get to the end of a book, then I’ve liked it at least enough to read it and will give it a positive review. I don’t post about books I would never read on my own. And I never post negative reviews. I know how difficult it is to write a book, and just because a particular title isn’t right for me doesn’t mean it isn’t right for someone else. Reviews are very subjective. I would never try to dissuade someone from reading any book just because I didn’t care for it.
“Reyes’ debut novel is a gripping fantasy just right for younger readers who clamor for adventure but are not quite ready for Lloyd Alexander’s ‘Grey King’ or J.R.R.Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings.’” – Deseret News
What you do hope your readers will carry away from reading The Rock of Ivanore? 
The protagonist, Marcus, is an enchanter’s apprentice who is pretty bad at doing magic. But when he is given the task to find the Rock of Ivanore and bring it back to his village, he must dig deep within himself to find the ability and confidence he needs to succeed. Like Marcus, we all have moments in our lives when we don’t feel good enough. We may have goals and dreams that seem, at times, out of our reach. But with hard work and perseverance, I believe all dreams are attainable. When I do school visits, I use the theme “Find Your Magic” to encourage kids to never give up on their dreams. I hope, by reading about Marcus, that they will feel more confident in themselves and not be afraid to dream big.

The Management would like to thank Laurisa for this interview. For more about Laurisa, see her website. Then go read her book, The Rock of Ivanore.


  1. Drat! Now I have to buy the book. You have tantalized me beyond the point of being thrifty.
    Thanks for a great interview.

  2. Laurisa's new book sounds wonderful. I also agree with you Laurisa about never writing a bad review. I feel the same way about downing someone else's baby. I'm wishing you great success with The Rock of Ivanore. Wonderful interview Susan, thank you for sharing.

  3. This book rocks. Get it? I used the word rock and the book title has the word rock. Ha, ha, ha. I got a million of them.
    Poor Punster

  4. Love Laurisa. Love her book! Great interview, guys.

  5. Thank you so much for having me as a guest today. I met Lupe at an SCBWI Writer's Retreat in L.A. a couple years back, and am so glad I did. And here's some good news! Recently spoke with my publisher about book #2 - It's a go! Should have a release date soon.

    1. Congratulations on your second book. We're glad our Foreign Correspondent put himself to good use.
      The Management


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