Sunday, June 10, 2012

Interview with A.K. Taylor, Author of Neiko's Five Land Adventure

What can you tell us about you that we wouldn’t already know from your site?

Hmm, let’s see, I am still a big kid at heart. I don’t really like to write stories for grown ups (tough audience). I love science and creativity and can squish them together. I am addicted to chocolate, action, and reptiles. I am an amateur reptile wrangler (local wildlife or pet store exotics). Amateur in that I don’t have my own TV or live show. I haven’t done alligators, but who is to not say someday? I want to hold snakes just as much as puppies and kittens. I am gamer still, and I have played on the most ancient of gaming systems like Atari and NES. As a reader I love just about anything except for romance. A total nature fanatic. I was in the woods long before school!

Speed Answer Challenge:

Hunting or fishing:  Both
Archery or shooting:  Both
Favorite Natural Science: Chemistry
Astrological sign:  Virgo
Pencil or pen:  Pencil
Ocean beach or Mountain:  Both
Favorite flower: tie between iris and orchid

Tell us a bit about your book. 

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is the first book of the Neiko’s Adventure saga. It is like the world builder within the story and it will eventually have two prequels as well. It is aimed toward upper middle grade and young adult audiences—I guess we can add in the adults who are kids at heart to the plot. The hidden Indian land of Hawote is in a deadlock of war between the Seven Tribes and the Crackedskulls, a cursed tribe. In order to win, Raven the Crackedskull king and his son must find a way to disengage Neiko, the Chosen One. However, as the plan unfolds, they open a doorway to another universe and an otherwordly and greater evil enters into the war. Neiko is stolen away into this other universe and trapped there and must make her way back home. Can she?

What inspired this story? And what’s the driving force behind the rest of the series?

My own adventures in the backyard and the woods were my inspiration. What drives the rest of the series are the struggles between good and evil and what trouble Neiko, the MC can get into next. Trouble finds her; she doesn’t have to look for it!

How did you get into writing?

I’ve loved creative writing as far back as I can remember. I started writing novels at 16 as a personal challenge and as an escape from high school social life. I didn’t really have one. It sucked and I was bullied most of the time. So, instead of thinking about how lonely I am and how much life sucks, I did something creative and loved it! Things didn’t end at writing. I also began drawing maps, characters, talismans, and other insignia.
Do you have someone who pushed you or inspired you?

Well, I was pretty much on my own in this department. I pushed myself and inspired myself from my own stuff and some of the things around me that I could pull in and alter.

What can you tell us about your next book?

The next book is Escape from Ancient Egypt and it will be out later this year. After the aftermath of Neiko’s Five Land Adventure the exposed mole Francesco sends Neiko back in time to ancient Egypt during the reign of Ramesses II the Great. She solved the mystery of what happened to four of her friends upon arrival, but they must somehow get back home. Things go haywire once they cross paths with Pharaoh and when he gets involved…

Where can readers purchase your book? 


May we read an excerpt from the book and can you provide it here?

C h a p t e r   2

While the car was leaving, Raven and Bloodhawk watched from the woods.

“What’s going on?” asked Bloodhawk.

“It looks like Neiko is missing another meeting,” replied Raven, his

“That’s good, but why is she missing so many?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but I’m sure Francesco will have the honor in telling

“When is he going to come? I’m getting sick of waiting on that poor excuse for a man—I’m ready to plan and take action now!”

“Patience, my son. You’ll get the chance. Besides, we need to know their plans, and the meeting has just started,” said Raven, smiling at hisimpatient son.

“You’re right. But I’m so tired of watching Neiko go free. I’m so anxious to get her, bring her to the castle, and make her my queen. I would love the opportunity of kidnapping her myself.”

“Of course you do, but you couldn’t possibly sneak into that neighborhood without being seen or causing panic among the neighbors. Then the Seven Tribes would be on you like flies on day old carrion. You wouldn’t want that would you?”

“No, I could just shanghai her from her cousin’s house tonight when it’s dark, when she is sleeping.”

“Now, you know that won’t work either because you can’t fit in that house, you would be seen, panic will spread, and you may be caught and made into a circus attraction. Besides, you don’t know how long she will stay up. She stayed up just about all night once, remember? Bloodhawk, use your head like I taught you. You must not let your heart overpower your head. Just think, in a matter of months she will be in college and then getting her will be a snap. No one will know what happened, and it will be too late. College will separate her from everyone, and you can find the opportunity, and she will be yours.”

“Well maybe, but then she may be even more of a nuisance if she has too much time on her hands when college starts. So if I grab her now, then that’ll be all she wrote. Then she would be out of the way and be mine at the same time.”

“Very good, that’s the way. Both have their drawbacks and advantages, and you nailed them both, I’m proud. You know, you’re right. We do need to get her out of the way so we can conquer the Seven Tribes, but she needs to be safe; not in our custody till after we win. But at the same time
be where she will be easy to retrieve, and be out of the way. But I have no idea how to do all of those at the same time.”

“Father, I don’t believe we can do all of them at the same time; we may have to give a little, but we can think of something that can put her out of commission. Her safety will be assured, but if we do decide to take her, then she won’t be too badly missed.”

Raven cocked his head in a questioning manner, looked at him blankly, and asked, “What are you getting at?”

“Well, like, um, if we made her look like a traitor, then her friends won’t miss her if she disappears suddenly. And they will think she ran away because she couldn’t stand the heat. Only we will know she is innocent, and we don’t have to worry about any suspicions or rescues; she will be out of the way, safe, and our helpless prisoner. When we win, they will never see her again and never know what happened or what hit them.”

Raven rubbed his hands together and smiled devilishly. “Oh, I get it. Try to ruin her reputation so that no one will believe her if something happens or if she finds out one of our secrets, and at the right time, get her. Good thinking, but there are a few problems with this.”

“Like what?” he asked frustrated.

“First, there will be few to believe that she would be capable of treachery; for those who are convinced, these believers will meddle, find the truth, and clear her name. Second, if we do take her, then her parents will be missing her. Also, people will discover that we are responsible and make a war to rescue her. You have the right idea of making tension between Neiko and her friends, but we need to take it a step further. We need to think of something to make tension with everybody. This includes her parents as well.”

“How will we make her guilty of treason in front of her parents? Eighteen-year-olds don’t sell important documents to enemy countries of the U.S.”

Raven laughed. “No, no. Not treason. We need to make a different approach.”

“Like what?! Treason is the most terrible crime I could think of. Should we try murder?”

“No. There is no need for a crime. All we need is something small and simple, but at the same time extremely damaging to reputation, mood, and friendships.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“I’m not sure yet, but it will come to me, and when it does, we will start to plan.”

“Goodie, I can’t wait,” laughed Bloodhawk cruelly.

Then suddenly Francesco came in running and complaining. “Crazy bunch of heathens! I can’t believe they didn’t plan anything. Who needs that wretch anyway?” he said moodily. “I’m terribly sorry your majesties, but the meeting ran late thanks to Monganata and his stupid wife.”

Ignoring the rest, Bloodhawk and Raven thought of the same idea and pointed at each other and said in unison, “Crazy, that’s it!”

Francesco didn’t have a clue and asked, “What is it?”

Raven chuckled and looked at him and said, “Francesco, you’re a genius!”

“I still don’t understand. What’s so great about a crazy bunch of heathens?” he asked frustrated.

Francesco was a slender man, not very tall, with black hair and blue eyes. He was the Grand High Mohican, and he was wearing the traditional headdress of falcon feathers and a robe of rabbit fur. He always had a weakling appearance and an annoying high-pitched voice. His weakness was one hundred times more obvious when he was lined up with the massive monarchs.

Raven stood nine feet from head to toe, and had an enormous build. His armor was titanium scale mail made from professional Crackedskull craftsmanship. His breastplate was made from silver—and gold-colored titanium discs that overlapped each other to form a solid surface. The armor on his arms and legs was made of gold-colored titanium. His helmet was the most exquisite. The part in the back was gold titanium fixed with eagle feathers. The part around his eyes had outstretched wings of a bird of prey in a swoop that was elaborately colored in gold, silver, and white titanium. The part covering his nose was the hooked titanium beak that was colored as the beak of an eagle, and the remainder of his face was bare. His hands were bare, except at the end of his fingers, where there were gold titanium finger guards that had retractable gold titanium claws.

Bloodhawk was much larger than his father, standing at eleven feet and having a build four times larger than his father was; he was also the largest in his entire bloodline. His armor was made exactly like Raven’s except it was colored black and silver. These two were not like any normal men; they were mostly human, but partly bird. Both had feet of eagles complete with talons that remained unarmored. Their eyes were like an eagle’s in looks; they could see like an eagle in the day and like an owl at night. Both of them possessed a pair of wings. Raven had a wingspan of fifteen and a half feet and colored with beautiful white plumage. Bloodhawk had solid black wing plumage and an eighteen and three quarter foot wingspan.

Raven told the Grand High Mohican, who was actually a Crackedskull, about the plot against Neiko.
Francesco’s mood changed. “So that’s the plan and where does ‘crazy’ come in?” he asked perplexed.

“Aaah, that’s the part we build on. If we can ever make Neiko seem she is suffering from lunacy, then most of our plans will go into effect, and the Seven Tribes will fall,” replied Raven.

“So, then what? What happens to Neiko? Even if no one listens to her, she is still a walking time bomb ready to explode and a constant threat even then!” Francesco said in a worried way.

“Don’t get so excited. Once she is having problems with her family and friends and trying to make everyone believe her, then we will step in and remove her. Then we will wage full war on the Tribes, and it will be finally over,” replied Raven.

Francesco smiled evilly and rubbed his hands together. “So you mean you’ll off her? That sounds nice.”

Bloodhawk stood up and glared at him with hate. Francesco scrunched back in fright, and Bloodhawk fanned his fingers and his claws shot out of his finger guards. The already terrified man covered his head with his arms and curled into a ball. Bloodhawk raised his hand ready to swipe, and Raven threw his hand up. “No! Don’t. We have no need for this. We will not harm Neiko; we will take her away, and by then no one will really miss her. She will no longer be a threat to you once we have her. Then we will take care of the rest.”

Francesco uncurled himself, shaking. “Alright, but h-h-how do we take care of her before the opportune time? I mean, she will give me headaches till then, and she will still have access to the army even then! What if she finds something out, like me being a Crackedskull? I mean, if it is proven. Then I will lose my position, and your plans of conquest and my espionage will be shot.”

Raven scratched his chin. “Well, I can’t do anything about the headaches she will give you, but you can handle the rest yourself except the abduction part.”

“But how? How can I deny her from the army? By the way, who will be the kidnappers, and how will you keep it under wraps?” he asked confused.

“Francesco, Francesco. Have you forgotten your power? You have the power to disband her against anyone’s say-so, even Monganata’s. But, you must have full evidence of her phony lunacy so that no one has a just argument. The rest is to be taken care of by you. That’s your job, and keeping us informed of the progress of our plan, and the next strategic moves are your job. As for the kidnapping, I don’t know who will do that job. As for further planning, we will keep you informed of any changes.”

Before Francesco could say anything, Bloodhawk stood up. “I’ll do it! I’ll be the one who will kidnap her! This is a one-shot deal and no room for mistakes. She is no match for me, and I won’t fail. I won’t leave until she is my prisoner! Besides, I’ve been waiting for the chance to get my hands on her!”

Raven rubbed his chin and thought. “Alright, my son. That is a splendid idea, and a very good point. You get your chance. We will have to plan later on when and how you will move in with no problems from anyone, especially that thorn in your side Monchiska—that pain in the butt.” Monchiska was the son of Sigma and Puma from the Scraah tribe and one of Neiko’s best friends.

Bloodhawk bared his teeth menacingly. “If anyone gets in my way from claiming my bride to be, then I will bathe them in their own blood!”

Francesco shuddered and felt a little sorry for anyone who crossed the path of this eleven-foot, angry Crackedskull prince; he hated it when his temper flared up, and when he made death threats. He finally broke the silence saying, “Well, um, uh, sorry to bother you two, but, um, I was thinking, um—,”

“Come on, spit it out, Francesco! Stop doddering!” Raven snapped with a tone that was so sharp and whip-like that he jumped.

“Well, what are we exactly going to use to make Neiko look like a lunatic? I mean, we need something that everyone knows about, especially her parents—and how are we going to find it?” he managed to ask fighting the knot in his throat.

Raven stopped and thought and thought. “I can’t think of anything. What do you have in mind?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t the slightest idea, but there has to be something—,”

“Well, find it. That will be your second job.”

“What if she gets in my hair and—,”

“Do what you have to do to throw her off and get to work—NOW! If you do find something, then contact me as soon as possible. Then we will plan what to do next; in the meantime, be patient. You have a lot of work to do, and try to keep Neiko under control. She will give you many pains, so be prepared.”

Francesco bowed to them and turned to leave, and Bloodhawk called after him in a harsh warning, “Neiko better not be harmed or have even a scratch, or I’ll make you my scratching post!”

He shuddered as he left the woods near the road, hearing the blood curdling warning. Many thoughts went through his mind of all the work that must be done, and all of Bloodhawk’s curses and threats that he had hanging over his head. He knew he must keep his cool and work fast too. He had to keep the world from falling around him, since there was a small strand of string keeping the wrath of the Crackedskull monarchs and the chieftains from the Seven Tribes from consuming him. Neiko was
one of these chieftains, and she was slicing at this strand. Oh, if only I could clap my hands and Neiko be gone and married to Bloodhawk, then this nightmare would be over, or just easier to cope with, he thought. He walked into his home and breathed a long sigh of relief, home sweet home,
he thought, then shuddered because Bloodhawk’s threat began to ring in his ears. “I’m so tired,” he muttered. Without changing out of the robe, he flopped on the bed and fell asleep instantly.

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About A.K. Taylor

A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 17. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband. 

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