I recently read and reviewed a new middle grade fantasy series, starring a brave female protagonist named Zaria Fierce. Author Keira Gillett brings back some older elements of Norse mythology in this series; we have dwarves, ice giants, and trolls causing trouble in Norway, and a young teen and her friends are all that stand in their way. It’s a pretty tall order for a young girl, and why do these folks keep calling her “princess”? The series is great fun and features diverse characters that will excite readers and pull them into the story.
I was lucky enough to get author Keira Gillett to answer a few questions for me. Technical librarian by day, author by night – when does she sleep?
Rosemary: Zaria is a big reader – I love that! What do you think are some of the books on her bookshelf?
Keira Gillett: I think Zaria and I would have similar bookshelves. We’d certainly would be able to swap our favorite books with each other as we both love middle grade and young adult fantasy books. Not only would Zaria have popular book series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, and Artemis Fowl on her shelves, but also classics from Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Ronald Dahl, and C.S. Lewis.
Rosemary: I loved the use of Norse mythology in your story. Did you grow up reading books about myth and legend, like Zaria?
Keira: I always liked fantasy, mythology, and folklore. I would say I probably grew up more on fairy tales and their retellings – like Ella Enchanted – the most. One of my favorite books is Half Magic by Edward Eager (and I recently found out it’s a series, who knew? Zaria would. She’s cleverer than me. I just got the rest of the books to read and I can’t wait.)
My love for Scandinavia comes from my parents hosting foreign exchange students (a set of twins) from Finland. I was very young, I think possibly turning five years old when they first came to America. At eleven, I went to Finland and met them (all grown up) and played with one of their children. It’s a beautiful country, and I can’t wait to go back and wander about Finland some more and also to explore Sweden and Norway for the first time. I hope it’s soon!
Oh, and there’s these pictures books that I loved that the twins gave my family. One was Louhi, Witch of North Farm, about a witch who skied on the sky and stole the sun and moon. Another is the Wild Christmas Reindeer about a young girl who has a hard time training Santa’s reindeer. The last one is this wonderful little Christmas story with trolls I think instead of elves. I loved reading that, and I’m going to have to call my mom to get the name of the book because I can’t seem to Google it!
Lastly, I love the movie the Polar Bear King, which is based on the Norwegian fairy tale of White Bear, King Valemon. A similar tale is East of the Sun and West of the Moon. So as you can see, my love and fascination has been long in the making!
Rosemary: When will we get to read about more of Zaria’s adventures?
Keira: The next adventure for Zaria Fierce and her friends will be Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes. It’ll continue where Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword left off. Will Zaria fix her past mistakes? Will she stop the plans of the dragon, Koll, and Olaf, the river-troll? Will she get to use her magic powers? Join me and find out on July 1, 2016!