By Laia Feliu.
We are very happy to welcome Kelley Armstrong to The Reading Corner to discuss her upcoming children’s fantasy book “The Final Trial“, out June 7th 2022.
The time has come! After discovering the true reason for the monster migration, Rowan is on an expedition to ultimately prove that she is worthy of the ebony monster-slaying sword on her back.
Rowan and her twin brother, Rhydd, their friends Dain and Alianor, as well as some other trusted advisors — and the ever-growing group of monstrous companions — are on a mission to help protect the dragon living in their homeland and are travelling to kingdoms beyond to make their case. But not everyone agrees that people can live peacefully alongside monsters, especially when new terrifying creatures appear.
It will take everything Rowan has to fight off threats of all kinds, from both monsters and people. It won’t be easy, but if she succeeds, she will become Royal Monster Hunter at long last.
Hi Kelley! Firstly, thank you so much for your time. I loved “The Final Trial” and I cannot wait for everyone to get their hands on it.
Before diving into the interview, I would like to give you the space to introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m Kelley Armstrong. I’ve been telling stories since before I was old enough to write. I’ve been lucky enough to doing this for most of my adult life. A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying was my second series for middle-grade readers. I’ve also written for teens and adults.
We have seen Rowan facing monsters and humans alike, what do you think has been the biggest lesson she has learnt from her adventures?
Her biggest lesson was learning to accept help and be part of a team, and also to consider how her actions impact others. When we first met her, she was defying her mother to go on the gryphon hunt. She had a good reason—protecting Rhydd—but deep down, she just really wanted to go, and over the series, she learned that if she wants to be a good ruler, she needs to put her country first.
I must admit that, while I enjoyed reading about all the different characters, Rowan was my favourite. Does one of the characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Besides Rowan, I was probably most fond of Dain. I knew so much more of his story than we saw, and I chose not to give Rowan the full story, but only hint at it, which allowed her friendship with him to be genuine. If she’d known the whole story, there’d have been pity, and that’s the last thing he’d want.
I loved how Rowan’s friends where there for her when she had to face council, do you think the entourage will stay together with Rowan having so many official duties to tend to?
I did foresee it as them staying together. It would be tougher if she took the crown, but as the royal monster hunter, she has more freedom with her friendships. Both Dain and Alianor want to be in the “monster-hunting business,” which would allow them to continue that friendship.
I am always very sad to say goodbye to characters and stories I have followed for a while, are you sad to bid farewell to Rowan, her brother and their friends or are you ready to let them go?
I was. I knew that was the right spot to leave them, but it was still difficult.
You have written and published many books outside of the YA genre, is there anything you have learned from writing for such a different audience?
I’ve learned not to underestimate them. When I teach writing, many adults who want to write for kids have a tendency to write down to them. Simpler plots, simpler characters, simpler words. By the time readers are old enough for a full-length novel like this, they don’t need that. They can absorb more complex plots and characters, and any words they don’t know, they’ll add to their vocabulary.
What do you hope your young readers will take away from this book?
Mostly, I hope they were entertained. I hope it was a fun escape. Beyond that, I hope they—like Rowan—saw the value of working together and accepting other people for who they are.
I know writing about dragons and monsters would be an amazing experience for me, what was your favourite thing to write about in “The Final Trial”?
Really, it was the monsters. I absolutely love myth and folklore, and this series let me dig deep into the world of monsters. There are plenty that I was familiar with–like jackalopes and wargs—but then I was able to go deeper into the folklore of other cultures and pull that in.
What topics that you’ve covered in the book do you hope we’ll be reading more about in the future?
If you mean topics I hope other authors cover, there’s nothing particularly unique in Royal Guide, but I will say that one thing I wanted to do was bridge the gap that can exist in perception between “princess” books and “adventure girl” books. These don’t need to be two different things. You can have the princess with the wild adventures. You can have the swords and the pretty dresses. You can have the cute sidekick critters and the dangerous ones. You can also have one or the other, and all those choices are fine.
Are there any books within the YA genre or with similar messages to “The Final Trial” You could recommend?
There’s so much! Both middle-grade and teen books are filled with daring girls on daring adventures, finding their place in the larger world and in their smaller friend group. I recently read and loved The Firekeeper’s Daughter, and it could not be more different from Royal Guide, but it is exactly what I love to see, with a capable young woman navigating her place in her community and the wider world.
And last but not least, where can everyone get their hands on this amazing and heart-warming story?
It’ll be out in June in hardcover, ebook and audiobook, and I can’t wait to see how readers respond to Rowan’s “final” adventure.
Kelley Armstrong is a New York Times and international bestseller with over forty books for adult, teen and middle-grade readers. Even after twenty years, she still can’t quite believe she gets paid to stay home and make stuff up. Armstrong loves the opportunity to share her passion for storytelling through teaching…which is always so much more fun than standing up and talking about her own books.
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