Sunday, November 5, 2017

Realm Explorers Part CV: Visit Tarnestra with Annie Douglass Lima

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name: Annie Douglass Lima

Title of book and/or series: The Student and the Slave (Book 3 in the Krillonian Chronicles)
Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach
Book 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

Brief summary of the story:

Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

The story takes place in the Krillonian Empire, which is in a world whose culture and technology are almost exactly like our own in most ways. The main difference is that slavery is legal there. (To learn more about the Krillonian Empire, click here.) In today's post, however, we will focus on life in the province of Tarnestra (also called Tarnestran Province). Tarnestra is unique in that it recently became the first province in the empire to outlaw slavery. As you can imagine, this history-making event sparked hope in the hearts of slaves throughout the empire, and for many, dreams of escape suddenly became a real possibility. As a result, in addition to freeing all its local slaves, Tarnestra has recently seen an influx of escaped slaves from Imperia and other provinces. These changes have had unfortunate effects on the economy, since many businesses cannot afford to hire as many employees and have had to shut down or cut way back. (The accepted salary for enslaved workers – paid to their owners, of course – is two-thirds what free workers earn.) Tarnestra is now dealing with huge numbers of unemployed and homeless people.

If we were to visit Tarnestra as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?

Snow sports are popular. Tarnestra's Rurionis Range has several mountains high enough to have snow at the top all year round, and it's a common destination for anyone who likes skiing, snowboarding, or sledding. 

What dangers should we avoid in Tarnestra?

Because of the high homeless population and the fact that so many people are unemployed, there's been an increase in crime recently. In addition, you'll want to watch out for the street gangs, especially if you go out alone at night. Rumor has it that at least one of the gangs has even been involved in kidnapping people to sell them as slaves in other provinces where slavery is still legal.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Tarnestra?

Since it's by the ocean, seafood is popular. A dish containing cheese dumplings with mushroom gravy is considered a delicacy. Most foods in Tarnestra are very similar to what you might eat on Earth. 

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Tarnestra?

Tarnestra is not known for its martial arts. Street gangs battle with knives, clubs, and the occasional gun (though firearms are not as easy to obtain there as in some other parts of the Krillonian Empire). One gang, the Corner Creepers, have designed a weapon known as a bladeclub, which involves a short bat spring-loaded with a knife blade. Meanwhile, Bensin misses the cavvarach he had to leave behind: a sword-like weapon with a hook about halfway down the blade.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Tarnestra?

Cars and trucks are the norm in the city. Many people who live on the coast own boats of various kind. People travel to Tarnestra from other parts of the empire by airplane or boat.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Tarnestra as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?

As in the rest of the Krillonian Empire, the calendar is the same as Earth's. Some holidays are different or are given more importance, however. New Year is the most important day of the year, and is celebrated similarly to Christmas on Earth, with decorations, gift giving, music, and feasts with family and friends.

What is the political or government structure in Tarnestra?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

An emperor, who is never named, governs the whole Krillonian Empire from the capital city, Krillonia, on the continent known as Imperia.  Tarnestra is one of eight separate provinces on nearby continents.  Like the others, Tarnestra is allowed to elect its own legislature and decide on many of its own laws, but the emperor reserves the right to veto any of them and make changes as he sees fit.  

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Tarnestra?

Some Tarnestrans consider it stylish to wear silver in their hair. (Most Tarnestrans have blond or brown hair.) It's not uncommon to see men, especially, in dreadlocks entwined with silver wires, or braids with silver beads on the end. If you choose to follow this particular custom, though, beware: a dangerous gang known as the Silverheads is famous for doing this, and it's possible you'll be mistaken for a gang member, especially if you have a burly build and go out at night with a weapon. If you happen to meet any of the Corner Creepers, their rivals, watch out!

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?

I borrowed a few details from places I've been. For example, the Corner Creepers' bladeclubs are made from rounders bats, which are about half the length of baseball bats. Rounders is a sport similar to baseball that is played in Kenya, where I grew up. And the character Boris has a bad habit of chewing betel nut, a mild narcotic that is common in Taiwan, where I live now. (It's legal in Taiwan, but not in Tarnestra!)

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?

Is it better to live as a slave or to be homeless, unemployed, and starving? Is it okay to participate in activities you know are illegal or unethical in order to bring about good for someone else? What do you do when you are forced to make the choice between being there for two separate sets of people who both need you in their lives? Can someone be justified in making a promise they know they will break to a person who trusts them if that's the only way to help someone else? Is it a good thing to have ended slavery when the results are mass unemployment, a huge rise in homelessness, and the economy taking a "deep sea dive"? These are all issues characters have to wrestle with in The Student and the Slave

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books? 

The Student and the Slave is available on Amazon here in both Kindle and paperback formats. Its regular price will be $2.99, but I've discounted it to 99 cents for the month of November!

Here are the links to my other books:

The Collar and the Cavvarach

The Gladiator and the Guard

Annals of Alasia fantasy series

Hide it In Your Heart (Bible verse coloring/activity book)

Student poetry anthologies

Where can readers connect with you online?


Sign up for my author emailing list and receive a free copy of one of my fantasy books:

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Tarnestra.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima


Peggy's Hope 4 U said...

The book is wonderful. Thank you for the additional background information.

Julie Elizabeth Powell (pen) said...

Great reads!