Alane Adams conjures myths and magic in The Rubicus Prophecy

Readers return to the Orkney Isles to join a young witch’s epic adventure.



Readers return to the Orkney Isles to join a young witch's epic adventure.

The Rubicus Prophecy is the second book in Alane Adams’ prequel to her Legends of Orkney series. Adams combines the pantheon of Norse gods with classical fantasy elements at the Tarkana Witch Academy. This new series aims at elementary school students who are hungry for a chapter book, but not quite ready for the original series. Alane Adams shared her thoughts about young readers with Library Journal.

A key character warns Abigail, “I wanted to have more power and it cost me everything. It’s like a hunger that can’t be appeased.” How do we help kids balance both self-empowerment and healthy humility?

This is such an important question to answer. Kids today face many challenges from online bullying to craving acceptance through social media. A single post that doesn’t receive enough likes can bring self-esteem crashing down. Most kids have the power to access the internet whether they have a phone or not. I think books can help kids learn balance and humility.

Through a book, kids see a character facing similar, even if metaphorical challenges. The character experiences the negative consequences of bad decisions, learns and grows from these decisions, and ultimately prevails through some positive course of action. Books need to teach children there is hope—that if they are brave, face their problems, stand up for their friends, do the hard thing even when they’re scared, that things will be okay.

The Goddess of Wisdom visits Abigail to encourage her to choose hope over fear. How can adults help 21st Century kids find the path to serenity?

I’m not sure there’s ever been a more challenging time to be raising kids. There are so many wonderful and terrible things happening in the world at large, and there is instant access to all of it with a simple swipe of a screen. Children are being handed phones at a very young age to entertain them. My worry is, when we hook them so young on a screen, it makes it harder to get them interested in more challenging activities such as reading.

Consider what kids miss out on when they don’t use their imagination in the way books teach us to. Reading lights up so many different parts of our brain and forces us to be mind-readers. Book reading gives us the inside view to know exactly what it’s like to be someone else, which is a great way of teaching empathy. So I encourage parents to always include reading as a priority in their children’s daily routines.

You created the Rise Up Foundation to fund literacy impact programs in places struggling with economic strain or natural disaster. You visit countless schools to promote reading. What surprises you most about these visits?

I think what surprises me most is just how hard teachers work to provide for the kids in their care, and how much they want them to succeed. Also, I’m always surprised at how much kids are in awe at meeting a real live person behind the stories in the books they read. It’s hard for them to fathom that authors are real people! It’s also so rewarding to share my passion for reading and storytelling with them, leaving them excited and energized to read more books.

With shrinking attention spans, what’s the future for long-form prose storytelling?

I don’t think we should sell readers short. I think a captivating story can be any length, short or long, but it must appeal to the reader. To that end, it is so important with children’s books to include characters where the reader can see themselves, which means more books with diverse characters and more diverse authors telling them.

Your Legends of Orkney world has been turned into a digital spell-casting adventure game called BattleKasters. What was it like to see your creation take on this new kind of life? 

BattleKasters has been a very fun tool to engage kids with the world that I created by allowing them to play a spell casting kind of scavenger-hunt style game with the app. We hosted dozens of events at comic cons and schools around the country. The best takeaway was when a young player would have a great experience on the app and then be interested in reading the book. My goal with this kind of game was to not just create another digital app, but to drive more interest in reading by connecting gaming to books.



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