We were lucky enough to interview author Alane Adams at C2E2 about the origins of her new Legends of Orkney series, how she created the world’s hybrid mythology, and the creation of BattleKasters (the exciting mobile game that accompanies the series).
Alane Adams is the brilliant mind behind the upcoming Legends of Orkney series. The first book, The Red Sun, introduces Sam, a seemingly normal 12-year-old kid. However, when his friends are kidnapped and taken through a portal to Orkney, a distant realm, Sam embarks on the biggest adventure of his life. He has to choose between saving his friends and saving Orkney from a terrible, sun-poisoning curse that could destroy them all.
The inspiration for ‘The Legends of Orkney’
Alane Adams didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “My son, when he was 12, said, ‘Mom, you should write me a book that I can read,'” Adams recalls fondly. She decided then to create a series about a 12-year-old boy and started asking her son questions about what he liked and what he would like to read about.
From there, Adams dove into creating the world of the book. “[My son’s] favorite series was the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series,” Adams explains, “and so I looked at it and said, ‘Rick, darling, you stole all of the good Greek gods so let me try a different approach here.'” She looked beyond Greek and Roman mythology and instead settled on Norse mythology because it has a lot of interesting elements to it, including the almighty Odin and the Yggdrasil tree. Of course, one of the things people always ask Adams is if she included Thor, to which she responds, “[Chris] Hemsworth ruined it! He’s so gorgeous! How could you ever top that? So, no Thor in my stories.” Fair enough!
Making Norse mythology her own
After settling on Norse mythology, Adams then went to work on giving it her own kind of spin. She focused on using the mythology in new ways as well as connecting it with other mythologies and supernatural tales. While vampires and other creatures have been done before, Adams realized she hadn’t seen all that much on witches. More specifically, she had never really encountered boy witches.
“We always think of warlocks [when we think of males and witchcraft],” Adams explains. “So I came up with this idea that, in my story, there were no male witches because Odin had cursed [witches] never to have sons.” Why? Because the last male witch was so incredibly evil and selfish that he cursed the sun because he wanted to be more powerful than a god. It’s this idea of male witches that not only gives the story an interesting sort of hybrid mythology and feel to it, but that also sets the tale’s events in motion.
In addition to writing new versions of mythological figures like Odin and creating a new sort of mythology, she adapted actual locations (that have a history in myth) for her story. Her magical realm of Orkney is based on the Orkney Islands that exist off of the coast of Scotland. They’re rich in Norse mythology as well as Arthurian tales and some witch mythology.
Adams wanted to have elements in her book that are grounded in reality while also fantastic in some way. Before Sam even learns about Orkney, we begin his story in his hometown of Pilot Rock, Oregon. Pilot Rock is notable for a giant boulder that’s actually a compass rock (or beacon). When settlers came across it on the Oregon trail, they would either turn left to get to California or go right to go to Oregon. So then, when coming up with the story, it made sense to have that rock become a portal to travel between the realms.
— BattleKasters (@BattleKasters) April 25, 2015
Sam’s ‘dark side’ origins
Believe it or not, Sam’s character rose from Adams’ son’s love of Anakin Skywalker. “It’s really interesting,” Adams explains, “because my son is the sweetest boy in the world but he loves Star Wars. He loves Anakin. He loves movie three when he goes full on to the Dark Side.” Villains and flawed people are the kinds of characters her son gravitates toward. With this in mind, Adams created Sam as a character with anger issues and a “real dark core to him” but who also wants to do the right thing.
Sam’s anger stems from his father abandoning him and his mother, as well as constantly being lied to. He’s a good guy, but he’s trapped in this decision to either save his friends or a world he doesn’t feel a connection to. His predicament, of course, worsens his anger, but his anger affects more than just himself. As Alane Adams describes it, “Every time he loses his temper, the sun gets worse… and it kills the fish, kills the animals, and just spreads a poison over the land.”
The arc of the story has Sam going to and returning from the dark side of himself. The first book is all about discovery, the second is about his journey to the dark side, and the third is where he really gets to fix things he’s done wrong and deal with the consequences of his actions by just moving forward. It’s the hero’s journey. Alane sums up Sam’s journey best with the idea, “We have to go through the things we go through to get to the place [we were meant to be],” which is something she wanted to get across in her writing.
Continue to page 2 to read all about BattleKasters, the other part of Alane Adams’ multi-platform Legends of Orkney experience!