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I find that, rather than a single source of inspiration that sparks an idea, most of my writing is really bringing together a fruit salad of different elements I find interesting.
The setup and world building for the Falinnheim Chronicles series came from a lot of places. I loved puzzle mysteries like The Westing Game as a kid, so these books are my attempt to give something back to the genre I love. Anime adventures like Bleach inspired Falinnheim’s shape-shifting slipsteel inventions. I had a large and comically-misbehaved dog years ago, so I wanted to incorporate the humor from that experience into Nyx’s character.
Tales of the Forgotten Founders is the series conclusion, so I needed to wrap up all the mysteries and explain how the world got started. Louis Sachar’s novel Holes and Kate Milford’s fictional city of Nagspeake gave me the idea to present this foundation as a story-within-a-story that the readers could dig into alongside the characters. I knew even before I wrote the first book that the backstory involved the ancient library of Alexandria, but as I did more research in preparation for this third book I discovered that political leaders fighting for control actually led to the famous library’s downfall, not a fire or a war as I had imagined. That conversation about book banning is incredibly relevant for today’s readers, but it wasn’t a theme I intended to explore until I was halfway through writing Tales of the Forgotten Founders—it emerged organically as I researched the real history of Alexandria.
Bastian, a new character in this book, was a lot of fun to write. Falinnheim and the “other earth”—or the real world, as we know it—each see themselves as the regular, normal, logical way to be. So I thought it would be fun to contrast those perspectives by having Bastian read “fairy tales” about what life is like in our world, which he sees as strange and foreign. Characters in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust experience a similar shift in perspective when Victorian England collides with the magical land of Stormhold—each sees the other as otherworldly.
I had a fantastic time in the world of Falinnheim, and I’m so excited to share the conclusion of Zed and Tuesday’s adventures!
Mysterious hidden passages aren’t the only secrets lurking within the palace walls. When the siblings discover a stash of banned books, they realize everything they’ve been told about Falinnheim’s history might be a lie. And though contact between worlds has been cut off for centuries, returning home might not be as impossible as their parents claim.
Could the adventures of a runaway monk, a reluctant viking, a silent ambassador, and a rebel librarian hold the solutions to both problems? To find the truth, Tuesday and Zed will have to learn the stories of Falinnheim’s forgotten founders.
Read an Excerpt
For some odd reason, Bastian started laughing. “Now you’re just messing with me,” he said, wagging an accusing finger at Tuesday. “London’s imaginary!”
Tuesday stared at him, perplexed. “No?”
“Oh come on,” Bastian insisted, “London’s in a bunch of stories. Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes both talk about London, and they aren’t real either, you know.”
“Wait, now you know Sherlock Holmes, too? He wasn’t in any of the books you showed us.”
“That’s because he’s not from a book,” Bastian said with a shrug. “Here, see for yourself.” He scooted over to the jumble of papers on the crate shelves and pulled out a dog-eared magazine. He flipped past several black and white illustrations until he found the page he wanted, then handed it to Tuesday.
“The Valley of Fear,” she read aloud, “a new Sherlock Holmes story by A. Conan Doyle.” Her eyes flicked to the page heading. “The Strand magazine. January, 1915.”
“See?” said Bastian smugly. “London’s just a place from stories. Like Oz, or Neverland.” He laughed again. “I mean, it’s not like there’s really a land called India full of talking animals, just because The Jungle Book says so.”
Zed tried to break the news to Bastian without making him feel stupid. “Look, we know the stories are made up, but those are all real places. Well, not all of them—Neverland and Oz are imaginary—but India and London are real.”
“Have you ever been there?” Bastian argued.
“Well, no,” Zed was forced to admit. “But I’ve seen them on maps.”
Bastian just rolled his eyes. “Stop trying to prank me. Next you’ll be saying there really are giant wind storms in a place called Kansas.”
“There are!” Tuesday protested.
About the Author:
Her debut novel Relatively Normal Secrets is the winner of the Gold Quill Award, being named the best children’s book of the year by a Utah author. The Falinnheim Chronicles series continues with The Secret Benefits of Invisibility (Cinnabar Moth, 2022) and Tales of the Forgotten Founders (Cinnabar Moth, 2023). She also has shorter work published in numerous anthologies. Keep up with her latest projects at http://cwallenbooks.com.
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