Please join me in welcoming Taya Okerlund, half of the writing Bookerlunds, to the blog today to chat about her new middle grade fantasy novel, Never Lore: Journey to Mt. Smolder!
The Bookerlunds are an author team composed of Taya and Nathan Okerlund and their daughter Mimi. (Mimi made meaningful contributions to this book by insisting that hyenas make it into the manuscript.) And we’re glad she did.
Nathan is a neuroscientist who works in a laboratory at the University of Utah, studying model organisms such as nematodes to try to unlock the mysteries of neuro degeneration, or declines in the functioning of the brain. He has published a lot of papers before in peer reviewed journals, but this is his first work of fiction.
Taya is a multi award-winning author of SHIN and other novels. NeverLore is her first middle-grade novel.
NEVER LORE: JOURNEY TO MT. SMOLDER by Taya & Nathan Okerlund
SERIES: Never Lore #1
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy
RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2023
NOTICE: Explosive content contained within. (Rebel boys and indomitable girls have always been a combustible combination.)
All the signs of Fairy’s unraveling were there: a strict rationing of pixie dust; the disappearance of a magical species; a reckless reliance on spies plucked from human orphanages. Annabelle was no orphan. Her father was perhaps the most infamous man in Childerbridge-and she’d never live down the shame of it, though she’d also never accept that the charges against him were true-not most of the time.
She’ll have to go to the end of Never to prove what is true…about Never itself, about her father, and her own work-worn self.
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Other Books in This Series
Hi Taya! Welcome to the blog!
Taya: Why not both!
Carrie: well, in my case, because my husband is allergic to cats lol (achoo!)
Taya: Mountains, if I must choose.
Carrie: I’m with you – ideally, both!
Taya: Board games
Carrie: we love game night!
Taya: This is a tough one, but audiobooks.
Carrie: i so badly want to love audiobooks!
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Taya: I do have a superpower, I think. I am learning how to regulate long- term stored emotions so when I’m under stress they’re less likely to pop up and motor me around in ways I don’t consciously choose. It’s tough work, but so liberating.
Carrie: ooo that’s a really good superpower to gain!
Q: Other than the Bible, what are five of your most cherished books?
Taya: Oooh. I love the Brontes, especially Charlotte and Ann.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall;
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe;
Crime and Punishment
Carrie: i love your list 🙂
Q: Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Taya: I was visiting my parents in springtime several years past, and I went on a walk by myself down by the river bottoms because it was such a pleasant day. I walked quite a distance and crossed the river—to some people it would only constitute a stream. Even with spring runoff, it only reached my knees. On my return, I realized I was being followed…by a wild dog, a pit bull/boxer mix, probably. To avoid a direct confrontation, I went sideways, wading again into the river, but when I looked up, there was another dog, collarless, as was the first. He might have been a rotweiller, but was clearly undernourished and when he saw me coming across the stream, began to show threatening behaviors as though he might charge. When I looked behind me, there was the pit bull, negotiating the river. I was standing mid-stream—between two wild dogs.
I knew it would be the death of me to show any fear, though I was quite terrified. I was completely alone for perhaps a mile in every direction. Even if I screamed for help—it could not arrive in time. And to scream in such a situation—I couldn’t risk it.
But—I rationalized—these were dogs, not wolves. Thousands of years of breeding ought to be good for something. So I slapped my knee and called to the larger of them, who seemed to be the alpha. I softened my voice, being as friendly as I could. The dog gradually changed his demeanor, and the pit bull seemed to follow the bigger dog’s lead. The rotweiller jumped up and threw his weight against me, but didn’t want a fight.
I knew I needed to call animal control, but worried about bringing two wild animals into my parent’s neighborhood, where young children sometimes played outside. But the dogs wouldn’t leave me, now that they trusted me, so I prayed as I walked, stringing these two unsocialized dogs behind me, that there would be no children outside that day.
My prayers were answered. Animal control arrived, and gently took the dogs into custody, which made me hopeful for them. I’ve no idea what happened to the dogs to this day. All I know is that fear is an enemy, and that gentleness is strength. Kindness, and the grace of God, was my salvation.
Carrie: oh wow! I was holding my breath a little while i was reading that!
Q: What was your inspiration for the main characters in Never Lore: Journey to Mt. Smolder?
Taya: My character inspiration for this book was my niece, who is rather an adventure fiend. She’s such a daredevil. She can do backflips. She’s broken a bone at least 8 times. She’s really fearless. In the end, I had to pull it back a little; she seemed too Mary Sue-esque. Nobody is that can-do—except my niece, apparently.
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from Never Lore: Journey to Mt. Smolder?
Taya: I want my readers to come away with better discernment. Many people in this world know the facts, and they can be factual down the a knife’s edge, and yet completely obscure the truth. Well, this book is about a kind of honesty you can’t fake.
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂
Taya Okerlund is offering a digital copy of Never Lore: Journey to Mt. Smolder to FIVE of my readers! (Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Never Lore: Journey to Mt. Smolder by Taya & Nathan Okerlund?