(Robin L. LaFevers)
Born in Los Angeles, CA; married; children: two sons. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, writing, research.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Texas Bluebonnet list inclusion, 2006-07, for The Forging of the Blade; Agatha Award nominee, Malice Domestic, and Mitten Award Honor Book designation, Michigan Library Association, both 2007, both for Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos.
The Falconmaster, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
The Forging of the Blade (first volume of "Lowthar's Blade" trilogy), Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.
The Secrets of Grim Wood (second volume of "Lowthar's Blade" trilogy), Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
The True Blade of Power (third volume of "Lowthar's Blade" trilogy), Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
Werewolf Rising, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2008.
R.L. LaFevers, the author of historical fiction and fantasy for middle-grade readers as well as of the picture book Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a writer. "I began writing long boring poetry at age seven," she recalled on her home page, "then graduated to short stories that were (thankfully!) a little more interesting. At age fourteen I knew that what I wanted more than anything else was to be a fantasy writer." While the adults in her life were not supportive of the idea, LaFevers was determined to make it happen.
Raised in Los Angeles, California, LaFevers and her brothers were surrounded by animals as a child, and family pets ranged from cats and dogs to goats, chipmunks, and even a baby anteater. As a writer, she has drawn on that childhood understanding of wild creatures, as well as on the trouble she caused with her brothers, in creating her own stories. "I learned a lot about how boys think and the kinds of trouble they can get into," she explained.
LaFevers's first novel, The Falconmaster, is the story of young Wat, who is called "Devil's Spawn" by other villagers due to his lame leg and blind eye. Set in Norman England, the novel follows Wat as he steals two of his lord's peregrine falcon nestlings and raises them in the forest. There, Wat learns that he is more than just a boy; in fact, he is heir to a magic that will allow him to protect the woodlands. LaFevers "successfully blends rich descriptions of the medieval world and flights of fantasy into an exciting adventure," according to Todd Morning in Booklist. As Jane G. Gonnor wrote in School Library Journal, "the author has done a fine job of integrating elements of fantasy into a historical setting" in The Falconmaster.
Leaving historical settings behind, LaFevers turns to an original fantasy world as the setting for her "Lowthar's Blade" trilogy. Beginning with The Forging of the Blade, and continuing with The Secrets of Grim Wood and The True Blade of Power, the series tells the story of Prince Kenric, whose father was overthrown by an evil lord, Mordig. Now in power, Mordig is kidnaping blacksmiths in an effort to forge a new sword of power. Kenric sides with the goblin Hnagi to both save his father and redeem his kingdom. The story "moves smoothly from start to finish; the action is continuous without being overly violent," according to Beth L. Meister in School Library Journal in her review of The Forging of the Blade.
In Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos LaFevers returns to historical fantasy. Theodosia Throckmorton is not fond of surprises, as the shocks she experiences at her parents' Museum of Legends and Antiquities tend to be rather wicked. It is Theodosia—and only Theo—who can see all the curses and black magic still clinging to the ancient artifacts. Then Theo's mother returns from Egypt with the "Heart of Egypt," an artifact with a curse so vile that it threatens to topple the British Empire. Theo will have to call upon everything she has ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country—and herself. Using "delicious, precise, and atmospheric details," according to Booklist critic Gillian Engberg, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos is "a sure bet for Harry Potter fans." In Publishers Weekly a critic called it "the perfect blend of mystery and humor."
LaFevers told SATA: "My husband jokes that I am a writer so I have an excuse to do research, and he's only half kidding. The truth is, I am mad about research. I've always loved it. Even when I was little I adored walking into libraries or museums because I knew I was in the presence of Knowledge. Answers to the Ancient Mysteries lay all around me and I only had to
know which books to read in order to find those answers. It's always struck me that the myths from ancient civilizations weren't just a story, but were something the people of the time truly believed were true. What if they were real? What would that be like and how would that affect our world?"
On her home page, LaFevers offered the following advice to young writers. A writer's secret weapon "is you. Your secret, crazy self. Maybe it's even the part of yourself that gets you in trouble some times. Are you angry? Sassy? Goofy? Do you get scared easily? Tell Wild Tales? Make sure and put parts of your secret crazy self into your writing."
The author remarked to SATA: "One of the things I was constantly accused of at Theodosia's age was being too sensitive. However, as a kid, I can so clearly remember knowing when someone had been in my room, even when nothing had been disturbed, or knowing when someone was looking at you, or when there was an argument brewing that no one would talk about. Kids are so open to the world, in ways we adults have forgotten or discarded, and I wanted to explore that, reconnect with that. And, of course, turn it on its head. What if the adults pooh-poohed that awareness, but it was truly something powerful that had the ability to harm them?"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 1, 2003, Todd Morning, review of The Falconmaster, p. 490; May 1, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, p. 48.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 2003, Krista Hutley, review of The Falconmaster, p. 156; May, 2007, Cindy Welch, review of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, p. 373.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of The Falconmaster, p. 1312; April 1, 2007, review of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos.
Publishers Weekly, November 24, 2003, review of The Falconmaster, p. 64; April 9, 2007, review of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, p. 54.
School Library Journal, January, 2004, Jane G. Gonnor, review of The Falconmaster, p. 132; December, 2004, Beth L. Meister, review of The Forging of the Blade, p. 112; April, 2007, Margaret A. Chang, review of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, p. 140.
R.L. LaFevers Home Page,http://www.rllafevers.com (July 1, 2008).
R.L. LaFevers Web log,http://rllafevers.blogspot.com (June 20, 2008).