I’m honored to welcome fellow author J.L. Mbewe to the site today. J.L. is not only a talented writer, she’s also a very kind and giving person, constantly encouraging other writers and artists in their journey. I’ve followed her blog for a couple of years now and I can’t tell you how many other authors I have discovered through her writing about them. So today I’m just following her example by being part of her Darkened Hope blog tour. Darkened Hope is book 2 in the Nalu series. Check out this review of Secrets Kept to find out more about book 1.
I love hearing the backstory of how a book came about, what motivated and inspired the author, so I asked J.L. to give us a little bit of history on how this series came about. And so now I’ll turn it over to J.L. to tell us how the world of Nalu was born.
A writer’s journey
Over ten years ago, I had set out to create a story that was a sort of Pilgrim’s Progress meets Lord of the Rings adventure, but focusing on the journey of overcoming the lies and bondage we struggle with, until I realized my initial idea was a bad one. Ah, the lessons we learn the hard way, eh?
Even though I have moved away from the allegorical aspects and focused more on telling the story of Ayianna and the quest to set her people free from the Sorceress’s curse, many of the elements remain, such as the names of the some of the places, the curse, and the Dwalu Tonic. One of the first imageries that came to me was the souls of the cursed people bound in chains, silently screaming, weeping, and pleading, which became a scene in Secrets Kept.
As the story shifted, it grew and deepened. The world was divided into nations with languages, taking into consideration what type of textiles, agriculture, political and military structure, educational system, and social customs each would have, and how they would interact with each other. I also considered the environment and climate and the relationship between geography and weather patterns. By the time the short stories were released, the world had a history and a future.
The characters grew beyond the one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts. Each of the characters have their own desires and struggles apart from the troubles plaguing their world. The main character, Ayianna, struggles with accepting her past, finding her place in the world, and overcoming her fears.
But you know what is interesting? While I was polishing up Darkened Hope, I was struck with how much of the story was a reflection of my own journey. The characters did and said things that spoke to me. There was this one scene where Jathil was going off on Ayianna, and I realized that I had been guilty of doing exactly what Ayianna had been doing. Without realizing it, Ayianna and I share a similar journey, especially regarding fear. In 2015, my word for the year was FEARLESS and this year, it is BLOOM. Ayianna begins facing her fears in Darkened Hope, and I look forward to seeing her bloom in the third book.
So perhaps this trilogy is a reflection of my own journey. Yet it is Ayianna’s story. I hope others see their own stories in the characters as well and that they would walk away with hope, even when life can seem so dark at times.
About J. L. Mbewe
Writing as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and swords, among other things. Here, between reality and dreams, you will find her busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and four short stories set in the world of Nälu. Her debut novel, Secrets Kept, was nominated for the 2014 Clive Staples Award, and its sequel, Darkened Hope is coming May 2016.
Stay up-to-date with all things Nälu and her journey as a writer mama at JLMbewe.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest.
Find it on Goodreads.
Come to the Facebook Party on May 21st!
And if you have yet to read Secrets Kept get a copy of that first to jump into the world of Nalu.
This is just one stop on the Darkened Hope blog tour. Check out the other stops to find out more about the fantastical world of Nalu.
- A look at the Fashions of Nälu with The Artist Librarian
- An interview with Prince Vian over at Jenelle Leanne Schimdt’s blog
- Heather L. L. FitzGerald interviews me.
- A look at the Powers of Nälu over at Zachary Totah’s blog
- A Behind the Scenes post with Rosalie Valentine exploring world-building and how Nälu came to be.
And that’s not all. You can also win a free copy by signing up below!