An interview with AnneMarie Mazotti Gouveia, Drifters Realm

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.

She is passionate about reading, art, and family; the youngest of seven children, a mother of four children, and a grandmother. She’s traveled through Europe, and has lived in Germany, Washington, and Kansas.
A former high-tech executive at a multi-billion-dollar company with a Bachelor of Science Information Technology degree, she is a geek at heart who enjoys hiking, yoga, mentoring women through WOMEN Unlimited, Inc., and trips to Disneyland with her husband and family.

AnneMarie lives in Northern California with her husband and two mischievous cats, Rocky and Prancer. Drifters Realm Book  is her first book. She is a member of SBCWI.

Anne marie, Drifters Realm

1. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Resilient. Creative. Authentic.    

2. Drifters Realm Book I is your first book. Can you share some of the challenges and joys you experienced while writing and publishing your debut novel?

The story in Drifters Realm Book 1 is something I had wanted to write for years but was too busy with work and family to dedicate the time. I began writing Drifters Realm Book 1 a few months after my mother and father passed away. It was a difficult time for me, losing my parents whom I admired and loved dearly. Writing gave me joy and lit a fire inside of me that I hadn’t thought was possible at that time in my life. The experience of letting go and moving on challenged me to dream, create, and world-build the magical adventures in Drifters Realm Book 1, helping me work through my grief in a positive way. Finding the right publisher was a challenge that took months and lots of rejections. In the end, I’m grateful for the opportunity to publish my book and I am very happy with how the book turned out.    

3. Disneyland seems to hold a special place in your heart. Have any of your experiences at Disneyland inspired elements of your magical adventure stories?

Yes. My happy experiences at Disneyland, starting when I was five years old, have shaped my writing and the adventure elements within Drifters Realm Book 1. Disneyland has always been a colorful, exciting, magical place for me, where anything is possible, and adventure lurks around every corner. As an adult, Disneyland is a wonderful escape, leaving daily life behind and capturing the joy of living in the moment. My time at Disneyland has inspired me to world-build the Unforgettable Forest, Sleeping Giants, Impossible Lake, and other places that are found throughout Drifters Realm Book 1.  

4. As the youngest of seven children, a mother of four, and a grandmother, how do your personal experiences with family dynamics impact the way you develop characters and relationships in your books?

Growing up surrounded by a large family and then having four children of my own has given me thousands of opportunities to experience conflict, joy, and grief. The characters’ interactions in Drifters Realm Book 1 are an amalgamation of my experiences with family and friends. The dynamics between the characters are woven from the relationships I’ve been fortunate to be a part of since childhood. Creating and then evolving the characters has been fun. Breathing life into them is like visiting the past. It’s been a joy to create likeable and intriguing heroes and villains and it’s my hope that students and readers see themselves in them.      

5. Your two mischievous cats, Rocky and Prancer, sound like delightful companions. Have they ever inspired characters or scenes in your stories?

Rocky and Prancer are the inspiration for Theo’s transformation. Their antics and personalities are incorporated into the lions, tiger, and black panther in Drifters Realm Book 1. I love the idea of the big cats standing for power, stealth, and at the same time, they are playful, protective, and comforting when they need to be.

6. The book’s illustrations add depth to the storytelling. How do you think these visual elements can engage reluctant readers or those who may struggle with comprehension?

I’m a huge fan of visual art in storytelling. I believe the colorful and compelling map and illustrations in Drifters Realm Book 1 will draw readers into the story, no matter what their reading level is, helping them connect with the characters and places within the story, giving them a much richer experience. The illustrations in Drifters Realm Book 1 have a way of capturing the imagination and shining a bright light on key elements of the story, drawing the reader deeper into the magic and conflict. I’ve spoken to a few families who bought the book and are reading it together with their children as a shared experience they can talk about. What could be better than that?

7. The sibling dynamics between Roe, Ori, and Theo play a central role in the story. How did you approach creating their individual personalities and how they interact with each other?

I’ve had close relationships with my brothers and sisters my entire life, as well as with my own children, and now my grandchildren. These relationships gave way to countless family interactions navigating conflict, joy, and grief. These connections absolutely helped shape the family relationships in Drifters Realm Book 1. Capturing each character’s personality flowed from my fingertips like a waterfall while I recalled events from my past and found that at times I couldn’t type fast enough. I immersed myself in the story, which was easy enough to do when you write about something you love. Then the story seemed to magically write itself as the characters came to life and evolved.  

8. The book addresses themes of family, friendship, and courage. How do you envision teachers using these themes as discussion points in the classroom to foster character development and empathy among students?

The family and friendship connections, conflicts, and character diversity within Drifters Realm Book 1 represent a myriad of possibilities for reflection and discussion.There are open-ended questions on the Resources page of my website that can be used, or developed further, to foster student discussions related to the themes of family, friendship and courage. Resources – The website of AnneMarie Mazotti Gouveia

9. Drifters Realm features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique traits and backgrounds. How do you think this diversity can help students develop a greater appreciation for different cultures and perspectives?

In Drifters Realm Book 1, teenagers with diverse backgrounds live and work in harmony on farms and are not separated by traditional societal norms. Their peaceful existence soon comes to an end as several conflicts and mysterious happenings begin taking place. It’s my hope that students will appreciate how the characters’ differences drive the story forward in unexpected and magical ways. I would like to think students will see themselves in one or more characters and appreciate the differences each character’s perspective and skills brings to resolve the conflicts within the story and ultimately save Drifters Realm.

10. As a teacher, I know how crucial it is to engage students with diverse interests and reading levels. How did you approach writing Drifters Realm to make it accessible and enjoyable for a wide range of young readers?

I brought together the things I have read and seen in books that make adventure and magical stories enjoyable. By having a map of Drifters Realm, impactful illustrations, a diverse list of characters, and sub-headings throughout each chapter, the book is laid out in such a way that students and readers of any age can journey through the story along with the characters. The plot moves quickly and is designed to pull the reader into the heart of the action which is the place where most readers want to be.

11. Teachers often work to develop students’ critical thinking skills. Are there any particular plot twists or complex decisions made by characters in Drifters Realm that could serve as discussion points for critical analysis?

Yes, Seth’s big secret and why he keeps it to himself, and Ori’s desire to be a hero at any cost are two examples that could serve as discussion points. These two topics are relevant in society today where social media surrounds us blurring the lines of what is acceptable to share, and young people are searching for role models and heroes to emulate. Either of these topics could serve as discussion points for critical analysis.  

12. You mentioned mentoring women through WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. Can you share how this experience has shaped you as a writer and as a person?

It’s an honor to be a mentor in the one-year leadership journey the women from WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. embark upon as they transform into stronger leaders in their industry. Coaching these women has inspired me to write strong characters found throughout Drifters Realm Book 1. I have benefited greatly in knowing these women and I always walk away from their graduation ceremony incredibly proud of them.

13. Do you have other writers in the family and friends?

Yes, my mother wrote bible study quizzes for Liguorian Magazine and her short stories about her childhood were published in a book of short stories written by Italian immigrants. My oldest brother is also a published author.  

14. Would you like to share something about your upcoming work?

There are three books planned for the Drifters Realm series. Be on the lookout for the second book in 2024. In the second book, pieces of the prophecy become clear, and at the same time, a mystery unfolds involving the discovery of the Shadow Stone, the Mirror Tree, and the Ghost of Ruin trapped in an underground library. Meanwhile, there is something strange going on with the powers of each teenager, which defies anything that has ever happened in the history of Drifters Realm. These new happenings are key to understanding why the events in Drifters Realm are taking place, and hold the answers Roe, Theo, Ori, and the others need to restore peace and harmony to Drifters Realm!

15. Many students have aspirations to become writers themselves. What advice do you have for young aspiring authors, and how can teachers nurture their passion for writing?

For aspiring student authors, make time to write, and keep on writing. Write about what you love, what matters most to you, and what moves you passionately. And when you aren’t writing, read. For teachers, encourage free-writing time and journaling where students can explore what interests them. Encourage students to enter writing contests and share their writings with others.  

16. Fantasy literature can be a gateway to sparking creativity and imagination in students. How do you think teachers can leverage the magical elements in Drifters Realm to inspire their students’ own creative endeavors, such as storytelling or artwork?

Introducing fantasy writings and creative illustrations to students opens a world of possibilities for their own writing and artwork. The fantasy within Drifters Realm Book 1 grew from a tiny seed of an idea of teenagers having adventures with magical backpacks. That tiny seed led to sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters, illustrations, and a book series. I think what’s important here is that no idea is too small when you are writing fantasy since all ideas are possible in a genre built around the impossible. In writing fantasy literature, all that’s needed is one tiny seed of an idea, a creative imagination, and a willingness to put in the effort.

17. Lastly, as a teacher who is excited to introduce Drifters Realm to my students, is there any additional advice you would give to educators about how to use the book effectively in the classroom to promote a love for reading and learning

From what others have told me after reading Drifters Realm Book 1, I would suggest reading the book one chapter and a time, pausing to discuss the characters, their Obligations, relationships, and what is driving their actions. With so many diverse characters and strange happenings, there should be more than enough ideas for students to latch on to and discuss openly as a group. As I mentioned earlier, there is also a list of study group questions that can be used to prompt discussions, writing assignments, or role playing. More details (

Share on:

We believe in sharing knowledge with everyone and making a positive change in society through our work and contributions. If you are interested in joining us, please check our 'About' page for more information