Short Bio: AnneMarie was born and raised in California. She has a vivid imagination and loves writing magical adventure stories that take place in strange lands. She grew up with a library card in her pocket and a stack of books on her desk. Learn more about her on her website: https://annemariemazottigouveia.com/
1. Six months ago, we interviewed you about your debut novel ‘Drifters Realm,’ and within a short time of its release, it garnered a positive response globally. Congratulations on receiving the Literary Titan Gold Book Award. Your growth in such a short period is significant, and now that the second book in the series has been released, how has the response been? How do you perceive this growth, and what lessons have you learnt along the way?
Thank you. I am grateful for the recognition and welcome Drifters Realm has received since its May release. The response to the December pre-release of Mirror Tree has also been positive. Many readers reached out saying they were excited about Mirror Tree because they couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next in the series.
As for my growth and lessons learned, connecting with readers has been exciting and inspiring. I’ve formulated new plot ideas based on my discussions with them. Fellow authors have also been hugely helpful in sharing their wisdom and friendship which is essential to the success of my journey as an author. I’ve also undoubtedly become thicker skinned when it comes to book reviews and at the same time, I’ve learned that writing what my heart and mind are compelled to write is what matters most.
2. The title “Mirror Tree” sparks curiosity. Could you share a bit about the significance of the title and how it ties into the overall narrative of the Drifters Realm series?
The title of Mirror Tree is noteworthy for a few reasons. First and foremost, I love the title because it’s mysterious, curiously odd, and it serves as a double entendre. Second, the title prompts the reader to question what exactly is a Mirror Tree, where does it grow, and why does it matter to the siblings. And finally, the title elicits a sense of wonder and reflection of the natural world of Drifters Realm, which I hope will lead the reader to appreciate nature while considering the importance of family, friendship, and life lessons woven throughout the story.
3. The world of Drifters Realm is richly diverse, spanning forests, deserts, caves, and swamps. How does the setting contribute to the overall atmosphere of Mirror Tree, and are there any new locations that play a significant role in the story?
Mirror Tree and the journey that unfolds within its pages is connected to the places found within Drifters Realm. From the beauty of the Blue Pool and Sleeping Giants, to the Unforgettable Forest and Lily Pond, to the stark contrast of the Wandering Plains and First City, and the eeriness of the Last City Ruins, and Desolation Mountains – the book is full of places that illicit a myriad of thoughts and feelings. I hope readers see these places in their mind and feel these places inside their hearts. The mood of the book is starkly contrasted by the beauty of Drifters Realm, and the imminent threat to life that the siblings and the Menace are trying to stop. Two of the new locations mentioned above, the Desolation Mountains and the Last City Ruins, are introduced in Mirror Tree as the siblings explore these areas in their journey to save Drifters Realm. Beyond these places, there is the new knowledge of the existence of unknown realms beyond their borders. Those realms will play a much bigger role in the next book of the series.
4. Mirror Tree continues the exploration of survival and the power of friendship and family. How do these themes evolve in the second installment of the series, and what new dimensions do they take on as the characters face heightened challenges?
Without giving too much away, as peril intensifies in Mirror Tree, friendships and family relationships are strained and put to the test as the urgency to solve the prophecy and save Drifters Realm escalates. New alliances are formed while old alliances begin to tear at the seams leaving the reader wondering how the siblings and the Menace will emerge from the chaos unscathed. Through it all, the siblings grow and change in unexpected and thought-provoking ways as they are challenged unlike ever before. I think readers will be interested in their journey not just through the realm, but as teenagers struggling with their own inner turmoil as they try to understand themselves and at the same time work together to save their world.
5. In both of your books, you’ve opted for premium book covers that not only attract attention but also capture the essence of the story and themes. What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers when it comes to selecting or designing book covers that effectively represent their work?
Although the book covers and internal illustrations were designed by me, illustrator and artist, Branislav Sosic, deserves the credit for creating the beautiful artwork for each book. As a debut author it was important to reflect the essence of my books with captivating covers. The advice I offer to other authors about selecting a book cover is to think about the message you want to convey, make a list of words that reflect that message, and then brainstorm ideas that capture those words and that feeling. I hand-sketched multiple cover ideas before I settled on the covers for Drifters Realm and Mirror Tree. It’s honestly a scary process and there is a lot of fear around what others will think of your book cover. But what really matters is what you think of your book cover and having it reflect the sentiments of your story. I am incredibly happy with my book covers and grateful to Branislav for capturing my sentiments in the covers and illustrations found in both books.
6. “Drifters Realm” received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award. How did the recognition impact the inclusion of illustrations in Mirror Tree, and did it influence the overall presentation of the book?
I am honored that Drifters Realm received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award. Receiving that award confirmed that it was a good idea to include illustrations in the first book. I thought the illustrations would add depth and feeling to the story. There were a few naysayers who thought I shouldn’t include the illustrations, but my editor encouraged me saying it was a brilliant idea. Since the release of Drifters Realm, many people have commented favorably on the illustrations. All the books in the Drifters Realm series will include a captivating cover, a map, and illustrations to illuminate the story for readers and honestly, for my own enjoyment as an author.
7. The Menace, the outcast teenagers in the story, add an intriguing element. Can you delve into their role and how they contribute to the overall narrative and the siblings’ journey?
The Menace are critical to the story. Their role was decided on the first day I began writing the Drifters Realm series. The Menace are the first true rebels and opposition to the leadership within Drifters Realm. They know the lay of the land and the secret hiding places that are unknown to the siblings. They have backpack magic and skills the siblings don’t have, and there are over two hundred of them. No matter how you look at it, the siblings need the Menace and cannot succeed without them. But there is a catch, can the Menace be trusted? That being said, the Menace’s relationship with the siblings is dynamic, dicey, and at times unpredictable because for all their similarities with the siblings, the Menace are still the outsiders.
8. The availability of your books on Kindle Unlimited opens them up to a wider audience. How do you think the accessibility of your work contributes to building a community of readers and fans?
I would like kids and adults everywhere to have access and opportunity to read my stories. Because of that, I asked my publisher to include Drifters Realm and Mirror Tree in the Kindle Unlimited offering to allow readers access to my books. I’ve also reached out to our public library to have my books added to their shelves, but that process is slightly more complicated. My dream as an author would be that anyone who wants to read my books can do so.
9. Your background as a high-tech executive is quite unique for a fantasy author. How has your experience in the tech industry influenced your writing, especially in the realm of Drifters Realm?
Working in a high-tech executive position required a ton of analytical thought and problem solving, which I excelled at and loved doing. Strangely enough, my experiences in high-tech made me want to write fantasy stories that have unexpected twists and turns, where anything is possible. There has been a fantasy writer lurking inside of me for years, waiting for the right moment. My executive role ingrained in me that with dedication and hard work great things can be accomplished. It taught me the discipline of planning and driving long-term goals, like writing a book series. Being a high-tech executive was only one part of my life’s journey. It led me to where I am today, a fantasy author, and for that, I am grateful.
10. Being a grandmother, do your grandchildren inspire elements of your storytelling or characters in your books?
Yes. For example, there is an unexpected plot twist in Mirror Tree that grew from a tiny mustard seed of an idea that my granddaughter asked me to include in the story .I can’t wait for her to read the book and see what her idea blossomed into. There are characteristics within the siblings and the Menace that were inspired by my grandchildren, my brothers and sisters, and my own children. I look for inspiration from real life and then like to flip it on its side to make it bigger than life, and magical.
11. How has the author community helped you in the last year, and what has been your experience with SBCWI and Mt. Diablo CWC?
I’ve met some amazing authors in a middle-grade Facebook group. It’s truly inspiring to connect with others who share the same dream and help them in their journey as they help me in mine. We share our knowledge, lessons learned, offer advice, and we encourage each other. I’ve had no personal interaction with the SBCWI members this past year, but I have used their online resources for guidance on specific topics. Regarding the Mt. Diablo CWC, my experiences with the writers I’ve met have been positive, helpful, and rewarding. It’s an amazing group of writers and I’ve learned a lot in the short time I’ve known them. I would encourage other writers to seek out groups they feel comfortable with and join them.
12. As you reflect on your success, are there specific individuals, experiences, or moments that you feel particularly grateful for on this journey?
I am immeasurably grateful to my husband for letting me read every rough draft chapter to him without complaining. I’m thankful for the talented writers who have helped me and inspired me to be a better writer. I’m also grateful for readers and believers in my work, like the Sociology Group, who find intrinsic value and meaning in my stories – this is a gift and blessing beyond measure!!
13. Without revealing spoilers, can you share a memorable moment or scene from Mirror Tree that you particularly enjoyed writing, and why?
One of my favorite Mirror Tree scenes that makes my heart speed up and gives me goosebumps is the scene at the end of chapter 6. In this scene, the siblings stand side by side waiting for whatever is next despite the odds being stacked against them. I enjoyed writing that scene because it’s the first time the siblings stand united despite their differences and fears. It’s one of my favorite scenes because they do what must be done regardless of how they feel about each other.
14. With Mirror Tree being the second book in the series, can readers expect any surprises or twists that will keep them on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning the pages?
There are quite a few revelations and unexpected happenings in Mirror Tree that will keep readers wondering what could possibly happen next. It’s essential to the story and how it unfolds that not everything is revealed right away. Mirror Tree invites readers to enter a mystical world that is unraveling and left in the hands of flawed, strong-willed teenagers with magical backpacks who are desperately trying to save it. The answers are found as the pages are turned, the story unfolds, and the reader dives head first with their eyes wide open into Drifters Realm.
15. Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for the coming year, both in terms of your writing career and personal development as an author?
In 2024, my goals are to continue learning from other writers and readers to improve my writing and storytelling skills, write the third book in the Drifters Realm series, and make the final decision as to whether the series will continue or gracefully end. I may also start a prequel to the series or a spin-off series on the other realms introduced in Mirror Tree.
Mirror Tree, by AnneMarie Mazotti Gouveia, is the second book in her fantasy thriller series, Drifters Realm. On the cover of it, this book is about a group of teenagers who are going to fight against their evil ruler to re-establish truth and justice, but if one looks closely enough, this book is filled to the brim with emotional intricacies, necessary life lessons, and a trailer to the novel realm. A jackpot of an engrossing storyline, relatable characters, unanticipated twists and turns, nail-biting challenges, and meaningful life lessons, wouldn’t you want to know if Roe was able to save Drifters Realm? Read Now!
Her First Interview: An interview with AnneMarie Mazotti Gouveia, Author of Drifters Realm