Interview: Yvette Carol talks about The Chronicles of Aden Weaver: The Or'in of Tane
A former journalist, Yvette Carol has contributed articles on community events to local newspapers, the Inner City News, Harbour News, City of Sails, the Sunday News, and freelance feature articles for magazines like Metro. Yvette talk to NZ Booklovers about the first book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver series.
Tell us a little about The Chronicles of Aden Weaver: The Or’in of Tane
The Or’in of Tane is the first book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver trilogy, middle grade (junior fiction) fantasy books. The adventure takes place on the planet Chiron, an “alternate Earth” inhabited only by insects, shapeshifters, and demons. The chronicles follow a cast of young heroes, shapeshifters who can move between insect and human form, seeking a legendary stone, the Or’in of Tane before the Lost Island loses its invisibility shield forever. Invisibility keeps the Order of Twenty-four and the world’s endangered insect species safe on the Lost Island where their enemies can’t find them.
In the first book, The Or’in of Tane, we meet Aden Weaver, an eleven-year-old dragonfly shapeshifter. Aden is itching to escape the constraints of life in the rata tree, and learn how to fight, to gain revenge on the Sasori Empire for killing his parents. Aden learns how to fight, but doing so begins an awful unravelling of family secrets. Aden learns he is the son of Kal. He learns about the stone of power, the Or’in of Tane, and about the importance of his role as the only one who can restore the Or’in and save the island.
When Chief Wako, the leader of the Sasori Empire, sets his sights on possessing the Or’in of Tane, the chieftain sends his agents out to kill the son of Kal. A deadly game of cat and mouse begins as the Sasori agents pursue Aden and his friends onto the Lost Island.
The Or’in of Tane is action adventure fantasy for 9 -13-year-olds, and everyone. I think a good story is a good story, no matter your age.
What inspired you to write this book?
I took a “Writing for Children” course with Kate De Goldi in 2005. Kate taught us to do ten minutes “free writing” every day. She was big on character development and taught us to get to know our characters like old friends. We had to interview our cast of characters, keeping a notebook on everything about them from their appearance to their family history, questioning them about what they like, what they hate, their strengths, their flaws, and so on. When I started the discipline of daily free writing, armed with my character development, the characters told me the story, a little at a time over the course of five years.
I’ve always done my writing around raising children (mother being my primary role). My sisters and nieces and I used to get together regularly when our kids were preschoolers for a long lunch or “Aunties lunch.” One day, I was telling the girls about the story I was writing. My niece who is part-Maori said, “That sounds like the myth of Rata and Tane. Our nanny used to tell us myths...” and she regaled us with the word-of-mouth version. That was the moment I felt this story had landed. It had “legs” and it was going somewhere.
What research was involved?
We researched the official version of the myth of Rata and Tane held at Auckland Library. It was more or less the same as the oral version. My niece felt it was fine to change the myth as I wanted to for my story, but I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea. So, I set the entire series in an alternate universe, on the planet Chiron, peopled by insects and shapeshifters. Then I felt free to change Chief Rata to Chief Kal, and I changed the wood chip in the myth to a stone (the Or’in of Tane).
I rewrote the myth, adding a new section about a contest set by Tane Mahuta. When the god asks the insects to take the stone chip from him, only a dragonfly is brave enough and strong enough to grab the stone. Although the mythology does not feature to a great extent in the series, it still informed the entire storyline being the basis of the legendary status of the Or’in of Tane.
On Chiron, the Land of the Clouds is New Zealand, (the Land of the Long White Cloud). I felt that the mythology on Chiron could mirror mythology on Earth. Thus the shapeshifters believe in Tane Mahuta as their primary god, being the god of forests and small creatures in New Zealand’s Maori mythology. I base the Sasori Empire in the Land of Fire and Ice (Hokkaido), where the creatures there believe in Hota (Hotei) and Ishijoten (Kishijoten), and mythological demons like the Oni, the Kappa and the Tengu. I researched these gods and demons, and about Japan, either online or by reading books at our local library.
Many times over the years of writing and editing these stories, I researched online about various insects, but only broadly. I felt freedom around the insect capabilities and habits because my insect characters were shapeshifters from another world, so they exist mostly outside of the laws of nature as we know them here on Earth.
One thing I love about writing fantasy is the freedom to create your own rules.
What was your routine or process when writing this book?
I established my routine in 2005, writing for ten minutes minimum each day (though it was usually longer). I always had to fit my creative writing in around raising my children. In 2005, the two youngest were three and a babe-in-arms, so I had to get up early in the morning before the babies woke and stay up late after they went to bed to find the time to write. My middle child is now eighteen, however, as he has special needs and I am his legal guardian, he will live with me for the foreseeable future. I continue to slot in writing time around him and his fifteen-year-old brother. The difference these days is that I can write during the daylight hours. What a luxury!
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
Definitely the first thought comes to mind is the forest music from Avatar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8ov9f8NISk
Where is my mind? By the Pixies for action sequences.
Welcome to the party, By Diplo for a fight scene.
Maybe a track like GHOST OF TSUSHIMA Music, Peaceful Forest for some Sasori Empire sequences.
If your book was made into a movie who would you like to see playing the lead characters?
I love these questions!
Aden – I would like a Maori or part-Maori rising star actor for Aden (as he has olive skin). However, I don’t know of any young New Zealand actors who fit the part. So, either Noah Jupe or Judah Lewis.
Te Maia – Maya Hawke
Stingray/ Pums – Tom Taylor
Chief Wako – Jason Momoa
Papa Joe – Jeff Bridges
Nana Jeen – Helen Mirren
Henny – Rachel Weisz
Dr. Mahiora – Temuera Morrison or Troy Kingi
Geo – Martin Freeman
What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?
Everything! The Or’in of Tane was my first foray into writing chapter books for the 9 -13–year-old market, and straightaway it felt like my wheelhouse. I thought, this is where I need to be. After months spent developing the characters, they had become family. I became fond of them, especially the hero, Aden Weaver.
When I started writing The Or’in of Tane, all I had was a basic story idea, an inkling, and my characters. I’m a “pantser,” which means I write by the seat of my pants. Where would we go? What would happen? I had to write the book to find out. Many nights I stayed up hours later than intended, just to see what would happen next!
At my book launch, Oct. 10th, in the Q&A they asked me why insects? I said, because they can fly, hop across the room in a single bound and they’re super strong without being fairies or elves. Why shapeshifters? Because I could give them the ability to morph into human form while still having certain abilities, like being able to fly, without needing to use “magic.” I have nothing against magic, fairies or elves, just to be clear. I simply wanted to do something different with this series.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
I had a fantastic book launch and went out to dinner and drinks with friends to toast the series with bubbly. Then I went home and melted with relief.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
If I have to choose, it would be Infernal Devices from The Mortal Engines Quartet. It was action-packed, full of imagery and description - a futuristic world sumptuously brought to life. I always seek enchantment. The world Philip Reeve has created in Mortal Engines is so familiar yet unknown that it continues to capture and inspire thought even on the third outing. Infernal Devices delivers gut-wrenching, scary, sad, and triumphant moments in equal part. I’m a fan of epic fantasy, and I love that you can count on Reeve to tell a gripping yarn.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
First, rest! The last six months of back-to-back editing have been stressful for everyone. My kids are over it. “Is there going to be a fourth book?” my youngest, Nathaniel, asked me the other day in a worried voice, which made me laugh. I feel sorry for my family. Naturally, there is still more work to do on marketing and promotion with my books. I’ve only just started on that process and shall approach the libraries about giving author talks next.
Second thing on my “to do” list is garden rescue on my property. In the last six months of neglect, the place has gone to wrack and ruin. I shall prowl around the local garden centre, buy loads of plants and supplies, and begin clearing the ground and planting!
In the New Year I shall instigate a daily routine of “ten minutes free writing” again. Writing a rough draft is super fun. I haven’t decided which way to go, whether to start another trilogy set within the world of Chiron or go in a different direction. I already have ideas floating in for further shapeshifter stories; however, I am open to whatever the muse may bring. I must wait and see which way things go story-wise, before I start work on character development. Patience is the key. Once I have fleshed out the cast, we’ll carry on from there.
After working on the same project for the last fifteen years, it feels strange to consider telling a fresh story. It’s also thrilling, as if one chapter of my life has ended and a new chapter begins. I’m looking forward to the next adventure.
I must remember, senses alert!