“The Key of Idelisia” is the first in a middle-grade fantasy trilogy, written by self-published author Sharon Roe, and illustrated by her son and grandchildren.
Although Sharon Roe lives in Plymouth, both her family and her new book have deep roots in the Mounds View community. Her nephew has been branch manager at the Mounds View Library for two years, and his two daughters were major inspirations for Roe in crafting her novel’s protagonist.
Roe will be visiting the library on Sept. 14 to debut and read from her young adult fantasy, "The Key of Idelisia." Manager Marcus Lowry will be in attendance to support his aunt, and to see the finished product of a decade-long process that he and his daughters have helped shape.
"I did a lot of stories with my great nieces Leila and Sadie," says Roe, 74, of her initial inspiration for the book. “They would come over and they would say, ‘Let’s write a story,’ and I would say, ‘Great!’ They would dictate and I would write it down.”
Now, Roe hopes the novel’s protagonist will serve as a role model for both her great nieces and her granddaughters. She describes the book’s hero, Oelsa, as a naïve, untested girl who is called upon to find her inner strength when her father is kidnapped. In the book, the first in a three-part series, Oelsa sets out on a rescue mission with the help of a wizard, a woodsman, a shape-shifting raven and a cat — described by Roe only as “sassy.” As Oelsa discovers her own hidden powers, and as an evil sorcerer seeks to expand his influence, more hangs in the balance than initially meets the eye.
After coming up with the idea almost a decade ago, Roe says she has written and re-written the book several times. She then published it herself, using a company in St. Louis Park.
Along the way, Roe leaned on a writer’s group, various editors and her own career as a teacher to craft a story that would be interesting to middle school students.
Lowry himself assisted with the work shopping process, reading various drafts and giving insight based on his experiences working with youth at the library. Having seen the popularity of fantasy and science fiction novels among younger patrons, he says he is excited by the fact that “The Key of Idelisia” is a fantasy novel.
“Any sort of material that lights up the imagination of a child is an awesome read,” he says. “Look at the ‘Harry Potter’ phenomenon. Readers who read fantasy read everything; they start there and they just don’t stop.”
As far as Leila and Sadie, Lowry says they’ve already found a role model — not only in Oelsa, but also in their great aunt for chasing her dream and publishing her first novel.
“They’re proud of her, they admire her,” says Lowry. “She’s a beloved great aunt, and I think they’re just really, really excited about the whole process.”
Those wanting to learn more about “The Key of Idelisia” and hear Roe read from the book are welcome to attend her free reading at the Mounds View Library, 2576 Mounds View Blvd., on Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. The event will take place in the library’s community room.
Lowry notes that, for other self-published authors or residents hoping to host community events, the room is always free to rent through the library. For more information, call 651-724-6004.
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