Author Chat with Anne Boles Levy
Contributed by Kim Baccellia
One of our extraordinary staff members, Kim, interviewed Anne Boles Levy, author of The Temple of Doubt! Now she's sharing this fantastic chat with us! But first we'd like to introduce you to this literary duo.
Anne Boles Levy has lived in eight states, forcing her to make up settings for her fantasy novels since she can't remember what any real place looks like. She currently teaches English to middle schoolers after more than two decades writing and editing for print, web, and radio. Anne is a graduate of Smith College and studied abroad at University College London, and has her master's in journalism from Columbia University. She's also an amateur silversmith and the absent-minded wife to her long-suffering husband, two children, and a cat in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Now meet Anne's book, The Temple of Doubt
It’s been two six-days since a falling star crashed into the marshes beyond Port Sapphire, putting the wilds of Kuldor off-limits to fifteen-year-old Hadara. She feels this loss deeply and is eager to join her mother beyond the city limits to gather illegal herbs and throw off the yoke of her tedious religious schooling. Medicines of any sort are heresy to the people of Port Sapphire, who must rely on magic provided by the god Nihil for aid. And if people die from that magic, their own lack of faith is surely to blame. At least, that’s what Hadara has been taught—and has so far refused to believe.
Hadara and her mother have ignored the priests’ many warnings about their herb gathering, secure in knowing their tropical island is far from Nihil’s critical gaze. Then two powerful high priests arrive from Nihil’s home city to investigate the fallen star, insisting it harbors an unseen demon. This sets off speculation that an evil force is already at work in Port Sapphire and brings one of the holy men to Hadara’s doorstep. When he chooses Hadara as a guide into the wilds, she sets off a chain of events that will upend everything she’s been taught about the sacred and the profane.
With introductions in order, it's time to CHAT!
Kim Baccellia: You do a fab job creating a whole new world! The planet Kuldor is unique with its customs and beliefs. What inspired you when you created this world?
Anne Boles Levy: Thanks! I did a ton of research into ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures such as Phoenicia, Babylon, and early Greece. But I wanted a tropical island because who doesn’t love palm trees and beaches? Plus, I’d been through many wetlands as a reporter in Florida, so I knew a lot about hot, wet climates. I blended it all together and added African rhythms to their music, and just totally had fun imagining myself walking around there. I want readers to feel like they’re on vacation when they’re with Hadara. Bring your sunscreen and bad attitude!
KB: Hadara is strong and not afraid to speak her mind even when it lands her in trouble. Where did her traits come from? Is she modeled after someone you know?
ABL: She’s the total opposite of me. She says a lot of things I would never have been brave enough to say at her age. It took a long time and many rewrites to get her there, as my natural impulse was to think, “Gosh, that’s so snarky! Is it too snarky? Too bold?” Finally, I just had to let her be herself. No one in my family can figure out who she resembles, either, so I guess she’s just her own person, which makes me strangely happy.
KB: The whole concept of not questioning a faith is very intriguing. What led you to use this in your storyline?
ABL: I’m fascinated by religion and how people come to believe what they believe. One of my favorite moments in the Bible is when the patriarch Abraham is a teen and looks around his Dad’s idol shop. He sees all these earthen figurines and thinks, “geez, there’s no WAY these are gods.” Dad comes home to find his entire inventory smashed and a whole way of life upended. Who does that? A rebel? A madman? A prophet? And how do we know the difference?
KB: What was your favorite character to write? The one that was the hardest? **This can include others besides the humans like the Gek.
ABL: Oh, the Gek were actually the most fun to write, but in some ways the easiest. I didn’t have to look far for all kinds of books on reptiles and amphibians. I made them a cross between chameleons and tree frogs and, of course, humans. In setting up their culture, though, I looked more at early humans. We homo sapiens lost a fundamental connection with Mother Nature as we grew more civilized, and I wanted the Gek to feel at one with their world at every level.
The most enjoyable individual character to write was always S’ami, the Azwan of Uncertainty. He is just so ... complicated. And evil! He has a whole backstory that will come out in later books that will make him both scarier but also more enjoyable. Considering our first view of him is as a pompous, almost‐molester and callous killer, he has nowhere to go but up.
KB: If THE TEMPLE OF DOUBT was made into a movie, who would you cast?
ABL: I adore Hailey Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game) because she’s just so much fun to watch, and puts 100% into a role. Hadara is bronze‐skinned, so there are quite a few actresses of color I’d love to see have a shot at it. Amandla Stenberg – Rue in “Hunger Games” – has Hadara’s wondrous curly hair and an innocent look that belies her inner power. It’s tougher to pick a Valeo. I’ve combed through listings of young actors and they’re all too good‐looking, y’know? Valeo should look battle‐scarred, with a face dragged through 10 miles of bad road. Most young male actors look like they spend their day at the spa getting facials.
KB: Did you have input on the very intriguing cover?
ABL: I did! My publisher, Sky Pony, made this an amazing experience from start to finish. They’re a small publisher, so they have time to spend with each author on the whole process of making our dreams come true. When my editor asked me for a few photos for ideas, I put together a little Power Point slideshow with stuff I found in Shutterstock, including that crazy egg! The rest of the cover ingredients, the artist added. I loved it at first sight.
KB: What can readers expect next?
ABL: Oho! I would tell you, but then I’d have to send a contingent of Temple Guards to kill you. Actually, Hadara’s powers are going to continue to grow, but she’s not going to feel comfortable with that at first. What kind of wacky things are going on in her head? She wonders if she’s coming unhinged.
The Temple continues to make trouble of the worst kind for her people and refuses to leave. But Hadara doesn’t feel ready to confront their evil and feels increasingly alone. Some familiar faces will crop up to help her, and she gets her first kiss, so brace yourselves. You can also look forward to another trip to the swamps too, which means more Gek. They have one giant surprise for her, if she can survive it.
The Temple of Doubt
By: Anne Boles Levy
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Five winners will receive a copy of The Temple of Doubt, US and Canada only.
Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. During this giveaway, we a question for entrants pulled from this author chat. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What job from Anne's past helped to inspire the planet Kuldor?
*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*