I recently read Gift of the Unmage by Alma Alexander, the first book in her Worldweavers trilogy. Galethea Winthrop, Thea for short, is the main character in this great new young adult series about a girl who has lived her whole life under the shadow of magical expectations. But with the failure to come into her magical ability, whole new worlds open up for Thea. Ms. Alexander took the time to answer some questions about her series, writing, reading, and even the World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention.
In a market that is dominated by fantasy books that have central characters who are powerful magic users you have created a character who is magic-less to an extent. What is Thea’s appeal?
My editor once said that she is EveryTeen. I think her appeal lies in the simple fact that she is not a superheroine from the word go. She is, on the contrary, a complete misfit in her world - or at least so it seems, on the surface. This is something that most kids will resonate to - there are times that even high school clique queens feel lonely and outcast, it is part of being a teenager, your moods and your hormones and your world views change with the moon (or so it appears to the outside world) and that's fine, it's normal, it's expected, it's all a part of growing up and growing into an adult personality and form. Thea doesn't get presented with her solutions on a silver platter -- she has to work to first understand her problems, and then on how best to make things better -- but although she is given help along the way it is she herself who eventually makes her own choices and solves her own problems. Sometimes being a powerful magic user just isn't enough - you have to learn something first, often something hard, before anything you do or think or feel has importance or weight or meaning.
In Worldweavers you have done such a wonderful job of weaving into your story Native American myths and legends. What drew you to those myths vs. the traditional European myths that most stories use for a base?
Few people know about them. I guess that's a double-edged sword because readers will instinctively gravitate to the familiar, and the well-trodden paths of European mythology are far easier to travel on than the thorny thickets of the unknown. But American kids are not European kids, and America has its own treasure box of mythology, and it's been barely cracked; and there are so many wonderful tales here, so many extraordinary characters, so much joy and drama and tragedy. All this is all the more powerful because it is so new and unknown - but also, there is the added bonus that these myths and legends are far more a part of an American young reader's heritage than Rumpelstiltskin is. Or they should be, anyway. This is what this country's mythological roots are.