Hi, all, Sher here with a character interview by Amanda Taylor of Neiko, star of Neiko’s Five Land Adventure, written when the author was only sixteen! First, take a look at the cover. Bring back any memories of your favorite childhood games? Once you read the synopsis, you should recognize at least one of the groups.
Neiko’s Five Land Adventure
What if the fate of two worlds rested on the shoulders of one person: you?
The Indians and the Crackedskulls are locked in the turmoil of a war that has raged for centuries, and it is presently in a stalemate. Her enemies, Raven and Bloodhawk, have come up with a scheme to take her down, but in doing so they inadvertently open the door to another universe and to an otherwordly evil. Neiko later finds out that a land she thought she had only imagined is actually real and the dark being is not a figment of her childhood imagination–he is terrifyingly real and she faces him for the first time. To make matters worse, it is now in her world and he has evil plans especially for her.
After several standoffs with the malevolent Ramses the Dark Pharaoh in Hawote, she is trapped in Qari by his strange and powerful magic. Trapped in another universe in a place that is not exactly the way she imagined it, and she must somehow find a way to teleport home. That is easier said than done; the odds are overwhelmingly against her and her scorpion-cobra companion as they must travel to find the answer and help but at the same time avoid Ramses’ allies, traps, and tricks. Can she come back home and turn the tables on her enemies?
Now I’m going to turn the time over to AK and the star of her series, Neiko. Take it away!
AK: I would like to welcome Neiko to this interview with us today. We also have a mystery guest that will be joining us shortly. Neiko has been on quite a few interviews, but as for our mystery guest, this will be his first appearance.
Neiko: [glances at large, empty chair] Mystery guest, huh? This is a first. I’m glad to be here–I think. I guess you are the kind of person who likes to mix it up a bit?
AK: A little. [grins] The events in Neiko’s Five Land Adventure happened about four years ago, and Escape from Ancient Egypt was last year. So what have you been up to as of late?
Neiko: Where do I start? Took a trip to ancient Egypt–that wasn’t planned, by the way, and I am still dealing with the aftermath–an Egyptian curse and Ramesses’ ka haunting me–that is Ramesses II the Great in case anyone is wondering. Helped an old friend of mine and mentor bury some old demons–at least they were human [laughs]. Some really bad ones at that, the worst they could be and not be immortal. Osiris has reawakened and is now after me and starting to stir up stuff. Battled Ramses in Hawote, managed to get a temporary truce between the Seven Tribes and the Crackedskulls, and now I’m trying to sort out some trouble from being sent to the past in Qari. I get new enemies all the time it seems like. Of course, I get myself in a heap of trouble every time, and I need some help getting out if I am over my head–that happens a lot now, and it’s partly due to some dad-blame curse and what really happened to Ramses.
AK: [puts up a hand] Wait! You certainly stay busy. With all this stuff going on, do you ever find time to see your friends anymore?
Neiko: Of course, I still try to hang out with friends despite my enemies and their plots. I also put away my childhood habit that I didn’t want to let go. Why imagine it when I can live it for real? Although, imagining it’s a bit safer, but then again I have to deal with society looking down their noses at me. Outsiders, I mean. My friends were cool and supportive even if they did or didn’t completely agree with it. Well, they need to walk a few miles in my moccasins before they judge me–they didn’t lose part of their childhood to a battlefield against monsters like Raven and Bloodhawk when they were eight or deal with the stress levels that I did.
AK: I suppose the habit you are referring to is when you used to play with toys outside of the “acceptable” age range. I can kind of see that…
Neiko: [shrugs] I did that long before the Big Bang Theory made it cool. I’m a nerd at heart, so sue me.
AK: Can you tell us a little more about your habit of playing with toys and why you did it?
Sure–I guess. Well, I already said I lost part of my childhood being in training at age 6 and on the battlefield and commanding warriors at 8. I just didn’t want to let go of my childhood. When my friends and I were teenagers, we couldn’t go hang out and do regular teen stuff like go to the movies because our enemies can camouflage into regular people like we can, so they would set up an ambush. I am 22 now, and we still can’t do the stuff that normal twenty-somethings do either, but all that isn’t really that much of a change. Even trying to work at a job is dangerous. So we still did stuff but not all the time, and we usually broke the rules when we did, but my friends and I really had to make a solid plan. A warrior no matter what age needs a break of some kind, you know? For some reason, I seemed drawn to playing with action figures and the world of the Five Lands and all that. I did find out why, and I found out where that Ramses toy came from, but that’s a story for later. I’ve already heard some stuff like “18-year-olds aren’t supposed to do stuff like that–blah, blah, blah.” Maybe most of the time they don’t, but I doubt they’ll admit it if they do. AK:
Sounds like you have someone in mind.
Neiko: [nods] Come to find out Tutankhamen has a similar pastime to a similar problem–I know because I actually met him, ha ha. We got to talk, but I don’t think he told me everything he wanted to tell me due to some rules and without Ramesses getting jealous and interrupting. Now I have a question for you, AK. I am curious about why you made me do that—play with toys. Not that I think it is uncool or anything.
AK: [squirms in chair and blushes] Well, because I had the same problem letting go of my childhood. I had outside stressors I dealt with too, but they were much more mundane than fighting winged giants and their minions. For me, I was a bullied social outcast in school, and I was out of my element when we moved from the backwoods to the suburbs. I had casual friends, but they would stab me in the back in a New York minute. I couldn’t get close to them, and I wasn’t really wanted. I didn’t normally do teen stuff because I wasn’t invited, not evading enemies like you were. I kind of put my toys away–not completely–because I found writing–writing your stories I might add. Even though I started writing at 16, I still played with a younger cousin, so I was 17, almost 18, when I quit; I kind of used her as an excuse. Putting toys down completely was mostly due to when she got older and we graduated to role-playing that created more of your stories and more characters and places. We have something in common about not wanting to let go of our childhood, but we deviate about our reasons for escape from extreme stressors. I know how it feels to be judged or looked down on for that habit. Truth be told, I think there are a lot of people who have that habit but keep it hidden behind closed doors.
That’s pretty cool. I would say that Raven and his lot are bullies, but a lot worse than any you would find at school. I dealt with school bullies too, but they were more annoying than dangerous. When they threatened to do something to me or make fun of me, I got angry, yawned, or laughed in their faces. Depended on who it was.
AK: Did becoming a warrior at such a young age have other effects on your life during your teen/young adult years? For example, you mentioned something about you and your friends bending and breaking a few rules….
Neiko: I went through a rebellious streak by skipping meetings and stuff, but the other chieftains were patient with me since they knew it was due to all the pressure and all from me having to do this stuff so young, and I would come out of it sooner or later. I had someone say something mean about that and my friends and chieftains condoned it. They knew if they scolded me that it would make me rebel that much more. Of course I did video games and all that too. I’m a great shot. [looks around] Okay, so who is this mystery guest?
AK: He may be conducting the interview from here on out, so let’s welcome Bloodhawk.
[Neiko raises eyebrows]
Bloodhawk: [crawls through stage door and sits in the large chair; it’s a bit too small] Glad to be here. This is…interesting–this interview.
AK: They said you were big. I didn’t think you were this big–I always tried to imagine what eleven feet looked like. Would you say you are taller than Goliath?
Bloodhawk: Easily. I think I have one foot and three inches on him. Of course he didn’t have wings, or talons on his feet either.
AK: One last question before I give you the floor. Were you born with wings and talons or were they magically put there? How about those eyes?
Bloodhawk: I was born with them, just like my father was. My eyes? I was born with those too. I can see just like an eagle and they look like an eagle’s. I can see like an owl at night. This curse has its advantages, but the disadvantages will be tragic if Father and I can’t avert them.
Neiko: [snorts] Like me dying in childbirth. So what are you here to “interview” [makes quotation marks in the air] me about? It’s not like you don’t know everything about me already.
Bloodhawk: This is you last chance to agree to my terms–come with me and become my queen. Today–right now–following this interview.
Neiko: [snorts again] Really? Really?! So I can die in childbirth, and you and your father can take over Hawote and maybe the US, Canada, and Mexico? Not gonna happen. [folds arms] Uh-uh. You mean to tell me you came all this way to invite me to an interview to talk about marriage and surrender terms? That’s sonot cool.
Bloodhawk: Father and I are looking into things that will prevent you from dying. Who knows? Maybe you can become large like me with wings and everything. How does that sound?
Neiko: [laughs] Ain’t gonna happen. Even if you make me ten feet tall and prevent me from dying or whatever half-baked, feather-brained scheme you and your father cook up, I’m not gonna give in. Period. I don’t surrender. What kind of a Chosen One would I be if I roll over and play dead and let you take over the Western Hemisphere? What are you gonna do now, hot shot? Furthermore, I would like to still be able to walk into my front door, not crawl through it. Or any door, for that matter, besides the doors in your fortress.
Bloodhawk: [shrugs] Have it your way. I guess we will just have to find a way to make you. We will take you down, and you will be mine. I just think we are going to have to become even more aggressive in our tactics–something we should have done long ago. Karo and I have had this insight for quite some time, but now my father is beginning to see things our way for a change.
Neiko: Like what? Send me back in time? Open some other portals to other dimensions or universes–or whatever they may be called? Or is your father going to start summoning demons, creating zombies and golems, or something weird like that? Or will he go to the local Wal-mart and find some other toy to bring to life and open up something like that, too? Or, just for fun, make Egyptian gods come to life?
Bloodhawk: We didn’t do that on purpose! It was Francesco who chose the figurine we used. How were we supposed to know he was real and the place he came from was real?
Neiko: [shrugs] Francesco is quite the shyster, but I don’t think he is 100% to blame for everything. Let me ask you something. Was that your bright idea to send me back into ancient Egypt and let Francesco assume all the credit? I don’t guess it was your idea to have me paired up with Ramesses?
Bloodhawk: Why would I do something like that? He did what?! Why would I set you up with another man when I can’t stand anyone else to be near you? Why I oughta–did you like him?
Neiko: [shrugs casually] At first no. But after he proved to me some things that were said about him weren’t true, he sort of grew on me. I just didn’t let on; I couldn’t stay or be involved with him. Too much at stake, but he was just too stubborn and didn’t listen. That part is true. Of course he doesn’t have to know. Of course I am not going to admit he was winning and I was caving in where he can hear, or he will never give up. Like he hasn’t given up already. You don’t say you lost to someone like Ramesses. I think there was something going on between him and my friend that they didn’t tell me about.
Bloodhawk: I’m not so sure about that. I don’t think you’re telling me the whole truth. I think his spirit follows you even now. He speaks to you when you sleep. He better be glad he is a spirit, or he would meet his end at my claws.
Neiko: I am certainly glad you left those claws at home with the rest of your armor so no innocent bystander would get hurt.
Bloodhawk: I agreed to this interview under the condition that I would come unarmed and that I wouldn’t cause a scene.
Neiko: Just you appearing anywhere in public would cause a scene. Even without claws and armor, you’re not harmless–not by a long shot. You’re not exactly normal. You don’t have acromegaly or gigantism–and people who do don’t get your size, and they don’t have wings, talons, and eagle-eyes. I can’t believe your father let you break protocol…
Bloodhawk: He actually believed us making these kinds of introductions would help us with public trust when we take over. You have been also broken protocol of the hidden land after 6 centuries of invaders. It’s no secret you have been sneaking out and doing these interviews. Who knows if one day you will appear on a talk show or on the news?
Neiko: You have no idea how ridiculous that sounds! Outsiders would think you and a lot of the Crackedskulls are aliens from another planet. If they visited Hawote, they would think they entered another world that looked like Earth or something. I would really laugh if you or your father said, “We come in peace.” If I am going to be on the news, at least I won’t be under attack by a SWAT team and the Marines and SEALS like you and your tribe would be. As far as I am concerned, I think this interview is over. Nice try, Bloodhawk, and nice meeting everyone else. Maybe I can come back under better circumstances.
AK: Yes, and thank you both for being here. We are just out of time! We do hope to have you and maybe some of your other friends or enemies join us soon! See you next time.
Neiko’s Five Land Adventure
Awards and Praise:
Winner of the 2012 Indie Reader Approved Award
Nominated as “A Great Book for Kids” by fantasy and science fiction reviewer CC Cole
“Plenty of action and inspired imagination.”
~Wulfstan Top 100 Reviewer
“From the first word, Taylor delivers a fresh, vibrant tale of two different worlds.”
~Steven Knight Book review and author of “Born of Blood”
“An imaginative journey that is that is much of an adventure for the reader as it is for Neiko.”
~CC Cole Book Reviewer and author of the Gastar Series
“A great middle school or read to me book with tons of adventure and characters.”
~Paper Mustang Book Reviewer
“A fantastical twist to the childhood game of Cowboys and Indians and a wonderful coming of age story.”
~Indie Reader Reviewer
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Escape from Ancient Egypt:
Awards and Praise:
Finalist: Wisebear Digital Book Awards
Winner of the Bronze Medal Award and Best in YA Historical Fantasy in the 2013 Wisebear Book Awards!
Winner of the UP Authors Approved Award for the 2013 Fiction Challenge!
“Neiko has the potential for becoming a literary role model for young girls. The Escape From Ancient Egypt storyline is good conceptually with lots of action and we did find ourselves anxiously wanting to know how the author resolved Neiko’s dilemna. Taylor also does a nice job of drawing the reader into the fictional world of ancient Egypt literally with her fantastic artwork interspersed throughout the novel.”
What if your worst enemy sent you on a one-way ticket to the past? Worse, later he shows up and tries to play match-maker with a dominant historical figure while all of history and the future on the line? Survival is just one problem, but then add your friends into the mix…
Following an intense battle between the Indians and the Crackedskulls, Neiko and her comrades enjoy victory while her enemies suffer a crushing defeat. Victory is short lived for Neiko when Francesco pays her a visit at her home and sends her away in order to collect on his threat of revenge. She is banished into the ancient world of ancient Egypt during the reign of Ramesses II the Great on a one way ticket.
Lost and trapped in this ancient world, it doesn’t take very long for trouble to find her. Taken by a rich man, she is reunited with three her friends that had been missing, and an eleven-year-old mystery is finally solved, but one of Neiko’s friends is still unaccounted for. After escaping from the rich man and journeying to Thebes,Neiko and her comrades have actually jumped from the pan and into the fire.
Things go horribly awry when Pharaoh finds out about Neiko and becomes infatuated with her. Francesco comes to Egypt on orders to bring her back, but he has other plans. Can Neiko and her friends thwart Francesco, return to the 21st century, and escape from the past and one of the greatest kings that ever lived?
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About the Author:
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 16. 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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I’d like to thank Amanda for guest posting today, and I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did. I wish I’d started writing at 16, but oh, well. At least I loved to read, and that’s why all of us readers need writers to invent new worlds and new adventures. Thanks for visiting, and don’t forget to scroll back for other open giveaways before you go!