Theo and the Secret of Elshon by Melanie Ansley / #Interview #BookTour @RRBookTours1 @WritingRooste



Book of Theo series, book two

A rabbit with the secret ability to read. An axe wielding bear. A warrior princess.

Together, they must find the fabled Library of Elshon, and fight the human empire bent on turning animals into mindless beasts of burden.

In the sequel to the award winning “Theo and the Forbidden Language”, Theo, Brune, and Indigo must find the infamous and feared muskrat, Orjo the Terrible. For only he can lead them to the legendary Elshon, a lost library in a land where reading and writing are punishable by death. At Elshon, Theo hopes to find the cure to Pacification—the empire’s power to make animals mute and mindless.

But can they find the Library and its hidden powers before Theo’s enemy, the vengeful human warlord Ornox, hunts them down? Can they even trust the notoriously conniving Orjo? It’s a race against time and overwhelming odds as Theo and his team must test their friendship, courage, and wits to uncover the secret to defeating the empire.




Do you need peace and quiet when you are wrting?

I don’t need absolute silence to work—in fact, I love writing in cafes. But I have two young kids, and my focus crumbles under their noise. So now I often find time to write in odd places, like in a car while in between errands.

If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?

If I had to choose, it’d be Egypt. Mysterious ancient civilizations with infamous dynasties and buried libraries are purely irresistible.

If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?

Alexandre Dumas. He and his co-writer/ghostwriter August Maquet were some of the earliest and most prolific commercial adventure authors, and Dumas seemed like a larger than life figure with whom it’d be a blast writing (and drinking).

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I try to stick to one rule: it has to be pronounceable. I have a hard time reading books where I stumble over the protagonist’s name. I also keep a list of all my names, to make sure there aren’t too many that start with the same letter, as that can make it hard on readers to keep track of everyone.

Which character would you like to be in this book?

None! My characters are all facing some pretty harsh realities—vengeance, imprisonment, death, war. All situations I would prefer to avoid. Like the book’s main protagonist, Theo, I’m not the rough and rugged adventure type, and probably prefer a good book to dealing with bloodthirsty enemies.

How do you come up with a title for your book?

With great difficulty. I wish my titles came first and plot second, but usually, my title comes up well after I’ve written the book. My go-to method is to use the story’s quest or an integral object that hints at adventure, danger, or ideally both. For this book, I knew Theo’s quest to find the lost Library of Elshon was his driving force, and I decided “Secret of Elshon” sounded much more intriguing than just “Library of Elshon”.

How do you pick a cover for your book?

All the books in this series have a stone carving or engraving theme, so for “Theo and the Secret of Elshon” I knew I’d be looking for something in stone. When I came across a snake, I knew I’d found my cover image. A large part of the book takes place in the underground palace of the giant serpents, and snakes are often associated worldwide with secrets, forbidden knowledge, and origin myths.

If a movie or series would be made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather like they showed it exactly the way you created it?

I think one of the great things about films is the vision that a team of other creatives brings to a story. So I’d be open to see a “based on” version, though maybe Theo the rabbit in space battling aliens would be a stretch.

Have you already started writing a new book?

I’ve started on the third volume in the “Book of Theo” series, and if you’d like to be in the loop for getting an advance reader copy, or knowing when it launches, you can join my readers’ list here:

Which book is the next one on your ‘to read’ pile?

I’m currently reading “Threading the Labyrinth” by Tiffani Angus (highly recommend!) and “The Gilded Ones” by Namina Forna (loving it so far), but after that I’d like to read “Kindred” by Octavia Butler.

Thank you, Melanie Ansley and R&R Book Tours


About the Author

Melanie was born in Windsor, Ontario to a Chinese mother and a Canadian father, and grew up in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Beijing. She spent grades one to three in a Chinese primary school with concrete floors and no heating, so when she moved to a school with carpets and its very own library, she thought she’d gone to heaven. She spent all her free time devouring books of every kind—including ones that most adults probably wouldn’t recommend for children. Animal Farm, Watership Down, and The Chronicles of Narnia became staples, with a generous helping of Stephen King thrown in. She is currently a producer and screenwriter, with an MFA from USC in film producing. Over her diverse career she has directed a zombie film, been held at gunpoint, and had the good fortune to work with some of her idols. She lives with her husband and two impossibly energetic children in Ballarat, Australia.

Melanie enjoys writing dark fantasy stories about the power of language, self-acceptance, and the courage to stand up for one’s beliefs. Her first novel, Theo and the Forbidden Language, was the winner of Best YA at the 2018 IndieReader Discovery Awards, and the sequel, Theo and the Secret of Elshon, will be released November 2021.


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