Reading has always been a major part of Mila Velimirovich's life. As long as she can remember she has been going on reading adventures and has even created many of her own. Finally, after spending years telling her students to strive for their dreams, she has decided to try it on herself. She published her debut novel, Orianna's Legacy, and is thrilled she can finally send others on epic quests.
Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
My featured book is Orianna’s Legacy which is the first book of my YA Fantasy series, The Crystallic Chronicles. The story is about the adventures of Orianna as she tries to save the kidnapped children of her village. As she explores her kingdom to locate the missing children, she discovers that an old myth is actually real and putting not just the children in danger, but also the whole kingdom. It is a race against time to solve the mystery of the myth and save her home.
This story all began one day while I was bored in my college biology course and decided to draw a mythical kingdom. It only grew from there into a story that I hope many young and old readers can relate to in their own lives. The reader is provided a chance to explore new worlds and meet new creatures while also seeing how Orianna handles issues that we all are faced with including confronting prejudices, mending broken bonds, and even dealing issues of self-worth. I wanted to create a relatable character that could develop in the story as the reader grows outside of the story.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
It took me about ten years to finally publish Orianna’s Legacy. Part of that has to do with the fact that I wasn’t just writing one book, but trying to map out seven books. So it took me time to map out all the locations, the characters, and of course what happens throughout all of the books. Not to mention that I handwrite all my work then transfer it to the computer for further editing. Having this longer process has helped me take my time and do a bit of research on my book. Orianna’s Legacy is set in a mythical world, but it also has some similarities to medieval Europe. It was important for me to try to create an image in the reader's head that put them in that time period. I spent my time researching clothing, building materials, weapons, and even little things like how one would go about lighting a pipe to smoke. The most difficult part of the whole process, however, is trying to get major battle scenes and intense emotional scenes to be read correctly. For me, I see everything so perfectly in my mind and I want to make sure that I do it justice when others read about it. I want everyone to experience what I see because I know if they do they will truly fall in love with the Crystallic Chronicles.
Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
I am a huge YA Fantasy reader and so there have been so many authors that I have looked up to and inspired to be more like during my writing journey. For one, I truly love Jonathan Stroud the author of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. His writing truly helps you see both sides of an amazing story: one through the eyes of an up incoming wizard and the other a demon wanting to be free of his irritating human master’s bond. For some reason you root for both characters even though they are at odds with one another, but Jonatahn Stroud somehow finds a way for you to connect with both. Also his mix of fast pace action and hilarious little quips here and there help you continue to read the story on and into the late night hours.
I am also extremely grateful to have been able to read the stories from Tamora Pierce, specifically her series called the Song of the Lioness. It was the first time I had seen a young woman take on the role of the hero rather than the one needing rescuing. Seeing someone like myself find her way in a world that did not want her, but she still found a way to push through was inspiring for me. Tamora Pierce’s books made me want to read more about these fierce, independent women, and in turn make me write some myself.
Has a library or librarian impacted your life or your writing life?
My grandmother was actually a librarian and she knew how important the written word was to the world. She passed on her love for reading and writing to me. I only hope that she would enjoy my books as much as she enjoyed the books that she took care of for the majority of her life.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Honestly my list of extracurriculars could go on and on, but I will just mention things that I enjoy doing the most. Obviously I do love to read and not only do I read alone, but I also read with my two children who thankfully share my same passions for stories. I also enjoy my pastimes playing video games which I also do with my children. But my favorite thing to do and something that I rarely have time for is going on my own adventures around the world. Most recently I was able to explore Southeast Africa with family and friends and it has given me so many great story ideas, not just for the Crystallic Chronicles, but also for my other series in the future.
Favorite place to go to in Minnesota?
I love being outdoors so most of my favorite places to visit would be lakes and forests in the northern areas. When it gets colder, my kids and I love going to museums like the Bell Museum, Children’s Museum, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. But the one place we try to go every other week is the library so that we can find new stories and adventures that we can take at home. One of my favorite libraries that we have explored (and where I did quite a bit of my writing for Orianna’s Legacy) was the Rum River Library in Anoka.