A child as spy? “In the Enemy’s Service” an interview

Annie, what is your typical day like?

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I’m actually a full time teacher. While I love my day job, unfortunately it doesn’t leave me with nearly as much time for writing as I’d like. I mostly write on the weekends, plus sometimes in the evenings if I don’t feel too brain dead after a long day of teaching.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to focus on my writing at home where there are always so many distractions. In the last couple of years, I’ve started taking my laptop to a local teashop (there’s at least one on every corner here in Taichung, Taiwan, where I live) and writing at one of their little outdoor tables. There are plenty of distractions there, too, of course – noisy traffic, customers coming and going, cute little swallow chicks poking their heads up from the nest attached to the wall nearby, and of course all the activity at the fire station right across the street. But in spite of everything (and thanks especially to the fact that I have no internet access there), it’s one of the places I’ve been able to be the most productive.

Yes, internet can be your enemy if you are not careful. Do you write with music or not?

No. It distracts me. Of course, the teashop always has music playing on the radio, but it’s quiet, and since it’s in Chinese I can usually tune it out. When I write at home, I never turn on music.

Annie, o you outline your manuscript first?

Yes, always. My outline starts off as a brief summary of the whole book (a page or two long), then at some point I usually divide it up chapter by chapter, with a few sentences about what will happen in each. The details change as I go along, and I often end up with more chapters than I originally planned, but I really need that structure to get me started and keep me focused as I write.

Good for you, what is the most difficult thing about being an author?

For me, it’s the fact that I don’t have nearly as much time to write as I’d like. I love being a teacher and wouldn’t want to quit my day job, but I do wish I had more hours in the day for writing. There are so many more ideas burning in my mind, just waiting to be written, than I have time to actually write!

Don’t we all…How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about?

If in doubt, I write an outline and see if I can come up with a complete plot. I have far more ideas in my head than will ever make it onto a page, but most of them are just random scenes. If there isn’t a plot, it won’t work as a book, no matter how fun or exciting the scenes are. If the story sounds good in outline form, I add it to my folder of books to write someday.

Great idea. What is the title of your book? 

This one is called In the Enemy’s Service.

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Intriguing…What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to provide some extra information that would help explain a few of the events and situations in my first book, Prince of Alasia. It was the perfect way to flesh out a few characters who played only minor roles in that story, and to introduce some new ones that had been roaming around in my imagination. The third book in the series, Prince of Malorn (just released last month), works the same way. Each of the three books deals with events surrounding the same major political incident: the invasion of the kingdom of Alasia by the neighboring kingdom of Malorn. Prince of Alasia begins on the night of the Invasion and describes what happens to twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin after he is forced to flee for his life. In the Enemy’s Service features a girl as the protagonist and tells the story of those who were not able to escape from the Alasian palace when the enemy invaded. Prince of Malorn begins several months earlier and focuses on the Malornian perspective of the events leading up to the Invasion. In each of the books, main characters from the others make brief appearances and interact with each other at the point where the timeframes and settings overlap.

The books can be read in any order, and each one will make sense on its own. But reading all three will make for a richer reading experience, as each story fills in gaps in the others and provides a different view of the overall situation.

Nice…Tell us what it is about?

Ten-year-old Anya is enslaved when invaders from Malorn take over her homeland. Because she’s young and looks so sweet and innocent, the soldiers who force her to labor in the palace don’t suspect her of anything. But Anya discovers ways to spy on the enemy and secretly slip information to the Alasian resistance, in the hopes that it will somehow help Prince Jaymin return from hiding and reclaim his captive kingdom.

However, in the course of her investigations, Anya accidentally uncovers a disturbing reference to her own family. Shortly afterward, she is confronted by a stranger who seems to know all her secrets. Holding her life in his hands, he claims to have proof that her father was involved in the betrayal that led to the Invasion itself.

Wow! so exiting…How do you come up with your character’s names?

I just play with combining sounds and syllables until I come up with something that sounds right to me.

Me too. What genre does your book fall under?

In the Enemy’s Service is young adult (or middle grade) action adventure and fantasy.

Cool, what will be your next project?

I’m nearly done with the next book in the series, tentatively titled King of Malorn. It takes place five years later and brings together the main characters from all three of the other books. In addition, I’m working on an unrelated story that will probably be the first in a completely different series. It’s called The Collar and the Cavvarach, and is set in a world very much like our own except that slavery is legal. Though still a young adult novel, it’s geared toward a slightly older audience than my Annals of Alasia and deals with darker issues. Writing it has been both an exciting and disturbing experience for me. Recently I’ve begun outlining ideas for its sequel.

We wish you the best…Where can we buy a copy of your book?

In the Enemy’s Service is available through the following links:

eBook on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/EnemysService

eBook on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/164340

paperback on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/147762760X

paperback on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-the-enemys-service-annie-lima/1112383387?ean=9781477627600

paperback in CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/3903531

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