Interview: Mitchell Charles, Author of The Kingdom of Oceana

CharlesTheKingdomOfOceanaEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Mitchell Charles. I really enjoyed his book, The Kingdom of Oceana and am very excited to have the opportunity to interview him.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Chinatown is probably my favorite movie, and without question my favorite script. I can watch it over and over. The Alchemist is my favorite book, and has a profound effect on me every time I read it. I especially like the audiobook version read by Jeremy Irons – Epic!

If you were sent on a magical quest, which other 4 historical fantasy authors would you take with you?

Michael Crichton, George R. R. Martin, James Clavell, James A Michener

Who are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Professor Snape is my favorite villain. You really never know for sure that he’s against Harry until the very end of the series.

You and your publisher have gone to the trouble to build some extensive educational aids and activities that go hand in hand with your book, The Kingdom of Oceana. This isn’t often seen with fantasy novels, even historical fantasy novels. Do you think other publishers and authors will take up this excellent practice? Do you expect even more educational media to be added as your book series progresses?

I was looking for a fun way to engage students into my fantasy world. Hawaii is such a magical place, so it was easy to create the study guides.

To check out these study guides and fun activities, have a look at the Mitchell’s site.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I’ve always love the ocean and sea creatures. My father taught me to SCUBA dive as a teenager and it’s still my favorite activity. I think I always had a knack for story, but didn’t put in the time and effort to write until The Kingdom of Oceana series.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

The Alchemist (The Alchemist), Walter White (Breaking Bad), Doctor Stephen Strange (Dr. Strange), Yoda (Star Wars) and Doc Brown (Back to the Future).

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Hermione Granger – she has a spell for everything!

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I am currently working on the sequel to The Kingdom of Oceana. The story takes place about 25 years later and follows the next generation of Oceanic heroes, King Ailani’s and Queen Momi’s three teenage children.

Book Blurb for The Kingdom of Oceana

CharlesTheKingdomOfOceanaFive centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic.  When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.
 
Warring factions spar for control of Oceana, sparking an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers. With the help of ancestral spirit animals, a shape-shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must fight for his rightful place as the future king of Oceana.
About the Author

MitchellCharlesAuthorMitchell Charles’ love of the ocean and its miraculous creatures began at the age of 12 when his father taught him to SCUBA dive. From his first adventure 50 feet (15 meters) beneath the Caribbean Sea he was hooked.  He has been involved in the Oceanic Society, America’s first non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, established in 1969.

Mitchell’s inspiration for The Kingdom of Oceana was born of exploring the spectacular coastline, lush valleys, and vibrant coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. On these excursions, he imagined what Hawaii was like hundreds of years ago. Before Captain Cook arrived from England. Before the golf courses and hotels. Before the ukulele and the Mai Tai became icons of Hawaiian culture. He dreamed of a time when the islands were an undiscovered magical paradise.

These days, Mitchell divides his time between Southern California and Hawaii. He has two teenage children and a dog named Magic.

Mitchell is currently working on the second book in the Kingdom of Oceana series, The Legend of the Nine Sacred Pearls. For more information, visit http://kingdomofoceana.com/

Readers can connect with Mitchell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

CharlesTheKingdomOfOceanaNarrator: Rayton Lamay

Publisher: Butterhorse Media (2016)

Length: 7 hours 29 mins

Series: Volume 1 The Kingdom of Oceana

Author’s Page

Two Hawaiian princes are coming of age and their sibling rivalry could turn to more than pranks and minor disagreements. When their trespassing on forbidden ground unleashes an ancient curse, things turn bad between their island and a rival island kingdom. Sorcery, surfing, and subterfuge combine in this beautiful coming of age story.

Prince Nahoa and his younger brother, Prince Ailani, are on the cusp of manhood. Their father has lead their island kingdom well for these many years, but now a rival island, Pearl Island, seeks their support and subservience. None of the royal family are eager to enter into such an agreement. There’s sibling rivalry, a minor love story, adventure, magic, mystery, and talking to animals. I was enchanted by this story.

The entire tale is told through Ailani’s eyes and I became rather attached to him. I really wanted him to come through this book intact. While he knows his place isn’t to rule (that’s the first son’s job once his father passes), he still has a well developed sense of right and wrong. Coupled with that is his ability to forgive, which is greatly tested where his brother is concerned. Nahoa is constantly teasing Ailani and sometimes outright insulting him. There’s also his pranks, one of which leads to the unleashing of a curse.

Both princes are tutored by the island’s kahuna, which is a magician priest. Ailani does a better job listening than Nahoa and he has a stronger bond with the old kahuna. The magic element of this story is so well done. The characters don’t question that magic exists because they have grown up around it. There’s shape shifting, speaking with animals, playing with lightning, telepathy, and more. I especially liked the bond with animals that most of the characters had. While the animals don’t talk back per se, they do respond to conversational questions, prompts, and commands. You can really tell a lot about a character in how they treat animals and that idea isn’t lost on Ailani.

My one little criticism for this story is that there are so few female characters. There’s princess Momi, who has a spark to her but is basically a love interest. Then there is Ailani’s mother who we catch glimpses of. She might have her own personal agenda or her nature may simply be to be a selfish and manipulative; we saw so little of her it’s hard to say which it is. I was most impressed with the daughter of the chief navigator; he’s training her to walk in his footsteps one day. Then there was an old lady selling fruit at market… and I do believe that was it for female characters. The story would have been enhanced by using some female characters to move the plot along instead of having them all be minor characters.

The story makes great use of the setting. This is one of those books where the setting is nearly a character unto itself based on how much it affects the story line. The Hawaiian culture is on full display. I loved that travel times between islands were realistic. I also had fun trying to guess what century this tale was set in. The islands have pigs, goats, and dogs so I was guessing perhaps this story takes place in the 1700s or 1800s.

Starting with some sibling rivalry to kick us off, the story build and builds. The unleashed curse isn’t initially a big deal but later it does become so. I loved learning alongside Ailani how this balance of nature and magic, or good and evil, of traditional ways and outside influences all tied together in the final burst of action. I really didn’t know how things would turn out for Ailani, Momi, and Nahoa and I was on my seat’s edge as I finished this book. The ending was satisfying but also left me ready for the next adventure in Volume 2.

As an aside, the publisher and/or author have a great website (http://kingdomofoceana.com/) set up for this book that includes study guides, a glossary, and a map. They really went all out in making this book a great pick for a class read complete with activities and quizzes built into the study guides.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Narration: Rayton Lamay was such a perfect pick for this book. I really felt submerged in to the Hawaiian culture with his narration. While I’m no expert on Hawaiian accents, he maintained a consistent accent throughout the entire book. He was also great at keeping all the characters distinct and his female voices were believable. He was wonderful at imbuing Ailani with the appropriate emotions.

What I Liked: The gorgeous cover art; great narration; the adventure of learning about the Hawaiian culture through this story; surfing made magical; talking to animals; messing with lightning; the reality of sibling rivalry; the action-packed ending.

What I Disliked: Needs some real female characters that have some influence on the plot. 

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