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Alyson Noel Alyson Noel

FAQ: The Soul Seekers Series

Tell us about The Soul Seekers—what inspired you to write it and what's it about?
I did a lot of research while writing both The Immortals and The Riley Bloom series, and the inspiration for The Soul Seekers was born from there. During my reading, I kept coming across themes of Shamanism, and was so intrigued by the concepts, I knew I wanted to create a new series where I could continue to explore those ideas.

The first book, Fated, introduces Daire Santos, a sixteen year old girl who lives a fairly glamorous and global life with her Hollywood make-up artist mother. Surrounded by celebrities and raised on movie sets around the world, Daire has never lived in any one place long enough to make a real friend, or attend a real school—she's never experienced the sort of "normal" life that most teens are used to. But all of that changes when the visions that have haunted her for years intensify in a way that can no longer be denied, and she's sent to live with the grandmother she's never met, but who recognizes the hallucinations for what they really are—a calling to her destiny as a Soul Seeker—one who can navigate the worlds between the living and the dead.

There, on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire will make friends, fall madly in love, and confront an enemy so dark, she's not only forced to embrace her fate as a Seeker, along with the sacrifices that go with it, but also to discover if Dace, the boy from her dreams, is her one true love—her fated one—or if he is allied with the enemy she is destined to destroy.

What inspired you to write about shamanism?
I'm fascinated by all forms of myth and mysticism, and Shamanism, being one of the most ancient practices, seemed like an interesting world to explore. Though, to be clear, the mythology I've created for The Soul Seekers, does not prescribe to any one belief system. Rather I've cribbed together various concepts I came across during my research and tweaked them for my own storytelling purposes. So while, Daire Santos' lineage began as Shamans centuries ago, Daire is now known as a Soul Seeker—a new generation of Shaman.

Did you ever meet a shaman personally?
Yes, I took a 3-day "Introduction to Shamanism" course that was taught by a female shaman. The class was truly fascinating. I had some amazing experiences that definitely found their way into the books!

The interesting thing about Shamans is that the title is one that is given to them by the community. They can learn the trade by studying, but they will only be called Shaman by earning it with the quality of work they are able to provide.

What kind of research was involved in writing this series?
Research is one of my favorite parts of the process. Not only does it help to create a more authentic world for my books, but it also allows me to study the kind of subjects I've always been interested in. For The Soul Seekers series, the research is ongoing, but so far I've read a lot of books on Shamanism, mysticism, ancient spiritual practices, ancient myths and legends, etc. I also took a three-day "Introduction to Basic Shamanism" class, which was really fascinating. And I've made a few trips to the beautiful state of New Mexico where I interviewed local teens about what it's like to grow up there, as well as a Native American about life on the reservation where he lives.

The Soul Seekers takes place in the fictional town of Enchantment, New Mexico. Is there a reason why you chose this particular setting?
The first time I visited New Mexico—over a decade ago—I fell in love with the landscape and it's remained one of my favorite places to visit ever since. With its rugged setting, mystical legends, rich cultural mix, and Native American influence, it was a natural fit for the world of The Soul Seekers. So I created the fictional town of Enchantment and placed my story there.

How would you characterize the main character, Daire Santos?
Daire is a gutsy, independent, well-traveled, slightly world-weary, a little bit lonely, and terribly vulnerable sixteen-year old girl who finds herself cast in a life-altering role she's not at all prepared for, but is determined to learn all that she can in order to rise to the challenge.

She has a loyal, albeit sometimes challenging, relationship with her mother, Jennika—and bears a fierce loyalty to her very wise grandmother, Paloma. And, once she settles into her life in Enchantment, she makes lasting friendships in Xotichl Gorman—a beautiful blind girl with a great deal of insight; The pretty and popular Lita Winslow; and, of course, the dreamy Dace Whitefeather—the boy who's been haunting her dreams.

Daire's grandmother is an extraordinary character! Can you tell us more about Paloma Santos—was she inspired by anyone you know?
Paloma is one of my favorite characters in these books, and she's inspired by many of the strong, fascinating, wise, and brave woman I've been lucky enough to meet in my life. Her physical traits were modeled after my own Abuela (I'm one half Hispanic, and that's how we referred to my grandmother on my father's side) who I only met once but I remember as being petite and pretty with incredibly kind eyes. She was a warm and loving soul, completely devoted to her family. I dedicated the first book in the series, Fated, to her memory.

Animals play a central role in The Soul Seekers—can you tell us more about the crows and the ravens that appear during Daire's hallucinations?
In the world of The Soul Seekers, everyone is guided by an animal spirit guide, whether they know it or not. The type of animal that guides one, says a lot about a person's character, and the life journey they're embarked upon.

Crows and ravens are members of the same Corvidae family. But while crows herald Daire's arrival into the world, and play a large role in the disturbing hallucinations that mark the start of her journey as a Soul Seeker—the raven is her actual animal spirit guide.

Ravens are highly intelligent creatures with great survival instincts. They are also the subject of much magic and lore—possessing powers that are said to be both magickal and transformative. Daire's challenge lies in learning to trust her Raven, even when, on the surface, its guidance doesn't seem to make any sense.