Welcome to another guest post on Fanfiaddict! Today, we have Noor Al-Shanti, author of Isaree of the Wild Isles and several other fantasy stories set in the same world, talking about the journey that characters go through in fantasy stories. She focuses on talking about the little things that make a story really matter. I really enjoyed reading this one and I hope you do too!
If you like what you see here, as I’m sure you will, why not go ahead and pre-order Isaree of the Wild Isles (Publication date: December 22, 2023)? You can even request an arc of her newest book here! Pre-order links and book information will be included below. Enjoy!
All in the Journey: Food, Survival, and Companionship in a Character-Driven Story
Isaree of the Wild Isles was written based on a very vivid dream I had involving a dragon. I woke up and just knew I had to write that scene. So I looked at the map of my world and tried to figure out where to set it. Writing in a pre-established, already built world with lots of characters, events, settings, and histories already existing behind the map is great, because I had all of that to draw on when I decided to bring that fun, vivid dream onto the page. I just had to choose a setting, name my character, decide where the scene was going to take place and start writing.
This is the first story I’ve written completely without a plan. All I knew was that Isaree was going to be forced to leave her home in the Upland Villages and go on this adventure which would eventually lead her to the Wild Isles and the scene I had dreamed. All the other details would be figured out once Isaree got to them. It was her adventure.
I didn’t care too much about getting to a certain big event or going through certain plot points, all I cared about was writing Isaree’s journey as she flees and tries to find safety. Writing this way allowed me to really focus on the journey itself, on all those little details that make the journey worthwhile. Isaree’s connection with the elders in her village was the first such detail to present itself, from the very beginning of the journey.
the elders of the village had packed them supplies to last several months. They couldn’t carry even half of it, especially if they wanted to make a quick pace, but the aunts and mothers and grandmothers had poured all their love and fears and hopes into making that food.
~ From Ch 2 (Isaree of the Wild Isles)
Even though she leaves home, having no idea if she will ever be able to come back, Isaree constantly carries that connection to her village and her family with her.
She realized she was covered in one of the blankets her mother had packed for their journey. She pulled it closer to herself and realized she was no longer freezing cold.
~ From Ch 8 (Isaree of the Wild Isles)
When the village elders decide that Isaree must leave to flee the Sorcerers, who might take her for her magic, she’s not the only one. In fact, she finds herself leading a small group through the wilderness and they build strong connections throughout their journey.
Pakwan stood in front of Isaree and ran her little hand down Isaree’s cheek in an unexpected caress. Isaree was surprised by the gesture. She had not expected wild little Pakwan, who always wanted things to go her way, to have missed her. She pulled the little girl into a hug and sat her on her lap as they ate and talked. Chaarumathi’s cooking tasted like home. Sitting around in this circle, with the twins and Leng and Sirichai and Chaarumathi felt like home.
– From Ch 17 (Isaree of the Wild Isles)
Food was one of the things that reminded them of home, but it also brought them together as a group. It was often over food that they connected with each other on their journey.
“Come on!” Sirichai said. He had already laid out the food on the floor and spread out some cushions for them to sit on. The others came in soon enough, sitting around in a circle, and it was just like those nights hiding out in the caves, and it was strangely homely.
– From Ch 8 (Isaree of the Wild Isles)
They formed their bonds over shared meals and searched for reminders of home in the tastes, the unique spices and herbs that the people in their village used. Food could remind them of home, but it was also key to their survival, out in the wild, on the run. This story ended up being much more focused on other aspects of survival, too, from making fires to keep warm in the widlerness, to deciding if it would be safe to go into a village or trust a certain person.
Isaree didn’t exactly regret her decision to be cautious. She just cursed it with her every breath as they spent hour after hour hiding in little caves along the coast, not daring to breathe, while Sorcerers journeyed back and forth along the road.
~ From Ch 4 (Isaree of the Wild Isles)
Every little decision felt like it could determine their survival, especially for a group of young people from a small village who had never really known how big the outside world could be.
Once they reached the port city, however, they realized that they were unlikely to find either of the two. It was bigger than ten villages. The streets were so noisy Isaree felt difficulty breathing. Everyone seemed to be busy with something. This should be comforting, to know they wouldn’t be watched or asked too many questions, but it did not feel comforting in the least. It was frightening to be among so many people who barely acknowledged their existence.
~ From Ch 3 (Isaree of the Wild Isles)
Isaree and her companions may not be heroes of prophecy or important players in some world-ending plot, but through each step of their journey they become important to each other and grow to love one another. I hope that you will grow to love them too as you follow their adventures.
Book Information & Preorder Links
Title: Isaree of the Wild Isles
Page Length: 203 pages
Publication Date: December 22, 2023
Preorder Links: https://books2read.com/isaree
Blurb: Sandwiched between the mighty High Kingdoms and the great Land of Sunsets, the Upland villages did not have much claim to greatness or power. Many of these villages did not even have names. When an army of Sorcerers from the High Kingdoms was mobilized to invade the Land of Sunsets it was these small villages, stuck in the middle, that bore the brunt of that army’s march.
In one of these villages Isaree has just discovered her own magical power, but even dreaming of what this could mean for her is made impossible by the presence of the sorcerous armies. When they hear that the Sorcerers have begun to forcibly take anyone with power, the village elders decide that those most likely to be taken must flee.
In the blink of an eye, Isaree finds herself at the head of a group of runaways, responsible for leading them to safety, with nothing to rely on except her knowledge of the nearby woods and caves and the food that their families have lovingly packed for them.
Isaree and her friends must stick together and survive in a world much bigger than any of them could have imagined. A world full of wars and empires, sorcery and power, and – tucked away in forgotten corners – impossible creatures of legend.
In this vast, frightening world, Isaree must learn not just how to survive, but who she wants to be.
Author Bio & Links
Noor Al-Shanti is the author of the epic fantasy novel Children of the Dead City, the forthcoming novel Isaree of the Wild Isles, and several other fantasy stories set in the same world. She loves world-building, writing multiple POVs, and sneaking fantasy creatures like dragons into her stories.
Isaree of the Wild Isles on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/183716708-isaree-of-the-wild-isles