Author Interview: The Well of Prayers by Anne Boles Levy
The Well of Prayers by Anne Boles Levy
Hadara, now sixteen years old, is still recovering from the night she assisted the Azwans, mighty magi, in destroying a demon that fell from the stars. She has a new job as an apprentice healer and wants to put her past—and her doubts—behind her.
On the planet Kuldor and beyond, it is deemed a sin to doubt the god Nihil’s magic, and heresy to fail to worship him correctly. The Azwans, still on Hadara’s island home, have begun punishing disbelievers with a vengeance.
Hadara can’t shake her own skepticism, though, especially when she suspects that the demon they destroyed isn’t entirely gone. What if bits and pieces are, in fact, floating around inside her and maybe taking root? Since she stood at the altar that fateful night, she’s developed the ability to understand foreign tongues, among other odd talents she never had before. Had she perhaps swallowed some part of the dying demon? She suspects no one can answer that question for her, but she doesn’t trust anyone enough to ask it.
But then a temple guard who she once thought was dead comes back into her life and points her toward new truths and a new sense of purpose: somewhere in the murky jungles surrounding her city, another people beckon her and demand she fulfill the destiny foretold by the falling star.
Interview with the Author:
Anne Boles Levy — THE WELL OF PRAYERS
What was the inspiration for this series?
A bunch of years ago, I had a horrible case of the flu and I got stuck in bed for a week. Being the melodramatic sort, I kept wondering what god I had offended. By the end of the week, having never moved my head off the pillow, I’d imagined that god and the people who opposed him, including Hadara. I haven’t strayed much from that original plot even as the characters took better shape over the years.
What did you obsess over in writing the book?
Warfare and all that killing stuff really eluded wimpy me. I read everything I could online and still didn’t think I really “got” the idea of where to put armed men and what they wore. Fortunately, various Internet oracles pointed me toward John Warry’s “Warfare in the Classical World”, a gorgeously illustrated encyclopedia of ancient warriors and their pointy toys. I still don’t know if I got any of the battle scenes exactly right, but at least I had fun doing them.
What was the hardest part in writing the book?
I rewrote it so many times, I got a serious “been there, done that” attitude for a long time. It took years and multiple drafts to find an agent, and more years and more multiple drafts to find a publisher. That was dispiriting. Time is at a premium for any of us who must also work for a living, so it was hard to squeeze in the hours to write, and improvements just seemed to take forever, and left me exhausted. It was all worthwhile in the end, but there were a lot of days when I had to ask what on earth I thought I was doing, and why was I wasting my time.
What’s the best part about being an author?
My students came out for my book debut last year and I felt like Queen of Everything. Signing books was everything I thought it would be. And my students were so gracious and sweet, and I still get stopped in the hallway by kids asking about the sequel. Well, it’s out now, folks!
What do you do for your day job and how does it affect your writing?
I teach at a charter school. This year, I have three sections of 8th grade English, and one of Honors 9th grade rhetoric. Being around actual teens has indeed made a huge difference. I had to up Hadara’s IQ exponentially. I’d thought she sounded fairly intelligent, but what teens are required to study and know today just blew me away. Rethinking her vocabulary and maturity level made me enjoy reading her more too, and a lot of pieces began to fall into place.
Why are there no cats or dragons in the book?
I’m so sorry. My own children begged me. My daughter, age 11, still isn’t exactly over it. And my teenage son points out that not only is there not one single dragon, but there is an actual kissing scene. That pretty much killed it for him. I clearly let them down.
I mean, not even cats? Really?
There are no domesticated felines on Planet Kuldor. They do, however, have several species of monkeys that have been domesticated and make lovely, funny pets. They’re the kind with prehensile tails, meaning you’d better watch where you leave stuff, especially anything edible. But cats … sorry, no. My bad.
How many computers have you killed so far while writing this series?
I lost track. The original manuscript and all my notes were on floppy disks on some ancient version of Microsoft that I’m pretty sure Adam and Eve used to write their apple pie recipe. When I went to revive it, I had moved on to my hubby’s old Mac. Whoa. That was a pain, having to find and translate all the old files. I count six devices off the top of my head. Technology changes, but I’m still slow as molasses.
What’s next for Hadara and company after “The Well of Prayers”?
Well, there are two more books planned in the series. I want Hadara to think seriously about her relationships and life goals before doing anything rash, and I want everyone to meet Nihil in the flesh, as he’s really very insistent that he’s a nice guy and everyone else is nuts. S’ami has some serious issues to sort out, and he needs to pick a side already – Nihil or Hadara? And it’s probably high time to leave Port Sapphire. Nihil isn’t likely to come to Hadara now, is he?
Anne Boles Levy currently teaches English to middle schoolers after more than two decades of writing and editing for print, web, and radio. Anne is a graduate of Smith College and studied abroad at University College London. She also has her master’s in journalism from Columbia University. Anne is an amateur silversmith and the absentminded wife to her long-suffering husband, Brett. They run around after two children and a cat in Scottsdale, Arizona.