Talisman of El by Alecia Stone
WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS A LIE?
Population: Human ... 7 billion.
Others ... unknown.
When 14-year-old Charlie Blake wakes up sweating and gasping for air in the middle of the night, he knows it is happening again. This time he witnesses a brutal murder. He's afraid to tell anyone. No one would believe him ... because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago - the day before his dad died.
Charlie doesn't know why this is happening. He would give anything to have an ordinary life. The problem: he doesn't belong in the world he knows as home.
He belongs with the others.
Author Alecia Stone
Alecia Stone is the author of Talisman Of El (Centrinian, 2012), the first book in the Talisman Of El trilogy. She graduated with a BA in Film & TV and has worked in television for a short period of time before branching out into storytelling. Alecia loves anything and everything paranormal. Her fascination with all things supernatural sparked her obsession with books, particularly young adult fantasy fiction, which she has never grown out of. She was inspired to become an author after reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen at the age of fourteen.
In 2008, Alecia started working on Talisman Of El, a contemporary young adult fantasy fiction inspired by people who disappeared mysteriously, including, but not limited to, Amelia Earhart and Percy Harrison Fawcett, who went on an expedition in search of an ancient lost city. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys going to the movies, listening to music, and travelling.
Talisman Of El is her first novel. At present, Alecia lives in England, United Kingdom with her family.
This is one of those books where I'm having a really hard time putting in to words how I feel. Obviously, by my rating, I enjoyed it but I seem to be lacking the right words. The first half of the book really dragged for me. If I hadn't known someone who had already read it & spoke such high praise for it, I might have stopped. But I kept going and boy oh boy was I glad I did. The second half was over in no time and I wanted, actually needed more.
I was slightly turned off with the characters ages, for I feel weird reading about characters who are 14 years old. Don't ask me why, because really it's only 2-3 years younger than most YA characters but it just seems too young. However, putting that aside, this whole book was great. Maybe them being 14 didn't bother me as much because there wasn't really 'romance' involved. (Another YA book with characters this young had a lot of kissing scenes and stuff...)
The one thing I loved most about this book, besides the characters, was the description of this world we're taking to. She paints such a beautiful picture that you can't help but just imagine yourself walking along these characters, taking in the amazing sights (and the horrors, as well). It was enough detail for your imagination to start working the way it should but not too much where your imagination felt limited. It was the perfect blend and I truly, truly appreciate when authors do that.
The characters were all relatable, especially Charlie, in my opinion. Sure, not a whole lot of us have been through what he's been through. With his mother dying after giving birth to him, his father being killed when he was ten and him bouncing around from foster family to foster family but somehow, you can still relate to his struggles. Alex is incredible. Not only is she strong but she's smart. She's also got an absolutely adorable crush on Charlie. Charlie, being a guy, doesn't really catch on and it's just so cute to see it progress. Their newest and awesome friend Richmond is incredibly entertaining. He can't keep a secret to save his life, which is always funny and he's usually always so optimistic you can't help but like him.
However, Derkein is a favorite of mine. He's much wiser than his age would show (well, his true age, that is). He suddenly becomes a father figure not just to Charlie but to all three, young kids and it's heartwarming. Charlie and Richmond, who are in similar situations, finally feel like they have someone they could trust and build a relationship with. Truly heartwarming.
I would recommend this series to anyone who is looking for one hell of an adventure. Stick through this story to the end and I can tell you, you will come out wanting more, as well.
1. I know this is a generic question, but how did you come up with the idea to this story? (It’s always interesting to hear how something/someone might’ve influenced an author’s story)
I can’t say there’s a source I can pinpoint as the inspiration behind this story, but I’m sure my love of mythology and fantasy books and also sci-fi films had a major influence when it came to broadening my imagination. Fortunately for me, this story found me. It was a pleasant surprise, and I certainly had fun creating the world and exploring it with the characters. The story must have been sitting idly in my subconscious for some time waiting for the right moment to spring an attack on me.
2. Most YA books I read the main characters are usually between sixteen – eighteen yet yours are fourteen. What made you want to make them younger than the norm? (Not that it’s a bad thing)
As a fan of YA books, I’m used to the characters being a little older myself, but the character that came to me just happened to be fourteen years old, so I just went with it. I didn’t plan on writing a book, so when the character materialised in my head, he was already fully formed. I just added a little extra details to make him complete. The fact that Charlie happened to be a little younger than the characters in most YA books wasn’t a conscious decision.
3. Character names are always something that interests me, in how you decided upon a name. I especially want to know where you came up with most of the Arcadians name as well as Derkein’s – they’re so unique. Were there names in the book that originally weren’t that but named something different?
I’ve always been fascinated with the names of characters, too. Sometimes, I just blend two words together and create a third word. If it sounds good, I’ll go with it. The main characters whose names have never changed are Charlie Blake, Richmond Kerd, Jacob Willoughby and Derkein Odessa. I personally love the name Derkein, which is pronounced "Der – K-eye-n". Derkein is derived from a Greek word, which gave the English word "dragon". It also means "sharp-sighted one".
Alex Dench is the only character who actually went through a name change. Initially, her name was Charlotte Dench but, due to the likeness between the names Charlotte and Charlie, I decided to change her name to Alex, which I actually prefer.
As for the Arcadian characters, some of the character names just came to me while others were inspired by mythology. Isis and Terra, I think are names people may be familiar with. The names Gaddis, Avaran, Ash and Oren just sounded right and suited the characters. I’m not sure where they came from, but I quite like those names.
4. This is the first book of three; can you tell us how long time passes from the beginning of this story to where we’ll end in the final book?
Good question. In terms of years, the book spans three years. The story begins in January 2013 and if you’ve read Talisman Of El, you’ll find out that Charlie has a certain amount of time to fulfil his task, so, the third book is set to finish in December 2015.
5. Do you write with an outline or do you just start writing and let the story take you where it wants to?
I’m not good with planning, so I just go straight into it and see where the story takes me. I find it interesting this way. It keeps me interested in the story when I don’t completely know where it’s going. Writing should be fun, and I certainly had fun creating this story.
6. Do you find it harder to write the first novel or the follow up novel, knowing there might be certain expectations from readers and reviewers?
I would have to say it’s harder to write the first novel as you have to familiarise yourself with the characters and the story, so it’s like meeting new people. You get to learn their traits and what makes them tick and you get to establish their goals. After all that, things become a little easier. By the time you get to the sequel, you’re already familiar with the cast of characters and their mission, so you just get right into it. I try not to dwell too much on people’s expectations. I think that’s what stuns people’s imagination and is possibly the cause of procrastination or writer’s block, so to speak.
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