Local Author Reveals Multicultural Girl Power in Evolving Series of Children’s Fantasy Books

Author Michael Lopez grew up as an Air Force brat and later became an elementary school teacher. Now, he taps into those experiences in the first of a planned series of books which puts girls as forefront heroes. Book one—released in August 2011—is filled with monsters, magic, and mayhem and is entitled Zoey Le Mar and the Veil of Fear.

Michael draws from his many experiences growing up and teaching to come up with his characters and plot ideas. “Children say and do the most colorful of things,” Michael says. “I take from what’s right in front of me and transfer that genuine playful innocence into scenes that do them justice. It’s comical, and at times, poignant. Such is life.”

Starting him on this journey, Michael recalled an experience from a college children’s literature class that sparked this girl power idea. He was later reminded of that when his students requested more contemporary reading material. “I was asked, ‘Where are the smart girl characters? Where are the girls of color?’ These students motivated me to write.”

The series will capture the trials and tribulations of the main characters in their friendships, family life, and a newfound magical responsibility. Humor is a staple component in the books, but a serious side does pop up unexpectedly, prompting a stop-and-think mentally before it’s a learning-by-experience reality, sometimes perilously so. “Reality is a cruel mistress, so take detailed notes, and don’t piss her off,” Michael says in between laughs as he makes an abridged quote.

Book two—released in May 2013—is filled with ghosts, magic, and of course, mayhem, and is entitled Zoey Le Mar and the Wrath of the Anasazi. This time, Michael used a character’s ethic background—Native American—as inspiration for another supernatural adventure. “I feel it’s important to expose readers to different places, cultures, and times. We, as a supposed united nation, need to embrace that melting pot ideal and understand where our roots, our history, come from.”

Michael puts friendship and family at the heart of his stories. “It’s the human element, the connection of these characters and how they react to each other that endears the reader to care and root for these characters. It’s relatable. They make good and bad decisions, and at times, they’re forced to make hard choices. It’s what growing up is all about.”

This is his first series of fantasy books, and Michael is currently working on book three: Zoey Le Mar and the Curse of the Nián. He lives in Northern California with his partner of ten years and one dog, Gracie Lou Freebush.

Story Synopsis
Veil of Fear
Zoey Le Mar has, what she thinks, is a typical preteen life in the suburbs: soccer, a strict yet loving father and mother, a pesky little brother, Owen, and two best friends, Danielle Hernandez and Lucy Le Mar. Without warning, during the preparations for Owen’s birthday party, Zoey receives her first premonition, based on a secret truth. It starts to undermine her once peaceful, eleven-year-old existence. The forewarning matches a recurring dream that has plagued Zoey since Owen’s current age. The premonition and dream involve mystery, monsters, and magic. At first, Zoey ignores off the forewarning, not really realizing what’s going on or the importance of it. The premonition involves a family secret, a forgotten responsibility, many generations removed.

As Owen’s birthday party begins, more premonitions intrude and stagger Zoey. Even her cousin Lucy gets pulled into one somehow. Then a strange present, another two-foot-tall gargoyle statue, adds to the continuing mystery of her family and this evolving day. Still wary, Zoey dismisses the warnings and all the coincidences guiding her. Humor becomes her favorite avenue to deflect the strangeness. Though ignored, the premonitions expand and continue to haunt Zoey.
The party ends, and Lucy goes home. With that avenue of communication closed, Zoey finds solace by going to Danielle’s house. On her way there, Tricky O’Leary, a fellow classmate and local bad boy, stops her. He discovers something is wrong and tries to help. Zoey brushes off his offer and ditches him. Once the coast is clear, she continues onto Danielle’s house and gets chased by what she thinks are monsters. But she’s just not sure. She makes it to Danielle’s house and ducks inside. However, another classmate and fellow teammate, Rhea Khan, taking out the trash, sees what chases Zoey, and it becomes her problem. In the meanwhile, Danielle helps Zoey investigate the strange happenings of the day, the gargoyle present, and her family story. But an odd accident occurs when Zoey and Danielle get too close to the bizarre truth.

Now, inadvertently, all four girls, Zoey, Lucy, Rhea, and Danielle, are involved with the Le Mar family secret, possessing pieces of the puzzle. As night falls, the ignored premonitions start to come true, and from a pocket dimension, the high priest of the monsters, the golems, orders some of his clan to cross over and hunt for the disturbers of the truth. Zoey’s ripple effect has many results: an accidental kidnapping of Rhea then Lucy, Owen getting taken, Zoey crossing over with an animated gargoyle protector, Danielle being dragged into this mess, and Tricky finding a way there too.
Can Zoey find a way to believe in herself and take control of this situation? Can Zoey find a way to fulfill her destiny and end this forgotten responsibility? Can Zoey find a way to do what’s right and save herself, her friends, and her brother?

Wrath of the Anasazi

Zoey Le Mar no longer has a boring preteen life in the suburbs. Magical armor, a ghostly ancestral guide, and monsters always popping up remind her how denial and a veil of secrets got her, and her friends, where they are today. Coming full circle, during a fun multifamily vacation to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, strange dreams and premonitions began to occur, again. However, this time, they involve Danielle and her Native American heritage. The visions are of a time when the white man deceived and disseminated the native inhabitants. While shocking and disturbing, Zoey, Danielle, Lucy, and Rhea talk amongst themselves about the bizarre incidences and convince themselves (again) that what’s going is non-magical in nature or life threatening; hence, the parents don’t need to know.

More dreams and premonitions intrude and weigh heavily on Danielle. Even Lucy gets pulled into one, somehow—just like before. The visions revolve around a young teen, a shaman-in-training. The coincidences can no longer be brushed off as a strange pattern forms and accidents start to happen. The girls prevent injuries from the accidents, yet they continue to dismiss or rationalize what’s happening. Rhea does not like this approach, and after a special trip—a magical spirit walk—the girls finally come clean and inform the parents. Though severely reprimanded, the consensus is there is no danger, and this weirdness is part of the girl’s multifaceted training. Many aren’t happy with this, and the vacation continues.

During an exploration of another cliff dwelling, a secret cavern is discovered, and angry Native American ghosts are unwittingly released. To make matters worse, the ghosts possess the girls’ parents, and through Danielle’s mother, they gain access to magic. The ghosts want revenge and to reclaim a life once lost. Now, they have the power to do so, and hard decisions demand action.

Can Zoey lead her friends and protect innocent bystanders? Can Zoey find a way to help Danielle let go of her anger regarding what has happened to her people? Can Zoey choose between secrets or safety and lies or sacrifice?

For more information, visit zoeylemar.webs.com. Available on Amazon.com.

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