Askari: The Next Big Thing!

13 Feb

askari-front-cover-blk-sm-moonbeam (1)

“The Next Big Thing” interview series is where six degrees of separation meets the literary chain letter and I have the distinct honor of being tapped to participate. I was invited by Lauren Sweet, editor extraordinaire and phenomenal novelist. Lauren worked with me after Askari won the San Francisco Writer’s Conference independent publishing competition. She whipped the original manuscript into something I can really be proud of…and an international award-winner!

Lauren’s book, Aladdin’s Samovar is one of the greatest cross-genre books I’ve ever read. It is part action-adventure, crime drama, paranormal romance and comedy all wrapped into one. Sounds like too much? It’s not. Her outstanding ability to craft a well-woven storyline with remarkable and hilarious characters kept me enthralled and laughing to the point of tears.

It’s about a genie who comes out of a magic samovar (which is kind of like a giant brass tea urn) and grants wishes. The samovar is owned by Amber Polaski, who does not want her life disrupted by magic that will surely end in no good. But wishes are hard to resist, and finally Amber asks the genie to grant her wish to meet her long-lost father. Who duly arrives–in a hail of bullets, on the run from Mafia hit men. (Not quite the reunion Amber had fantasized about.)

Between trying to fend off the Mafia, the FBI, and her growing feelings for Jasper the genie, Amber has her work cut out for her. People also get shot at, shrink wrapped, and stampeded by a horde of Happy Puppies. In other words, a good time is had by all.

Aladdin’s Samovar is available on the Kindle at or Nook at Check out her website for more information:

THE NEXT BIG THING featuring Mikko Azul

What is the title of your book?

ASKARI, Child of Muralia Book I

This is a trilogy, with YEZMAN currently being written and SHAELI probably a year behind it.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Many places. After Twilight, it seemed like nearly everything written in the Young Adult genre was paranormal romance…there was little for teen boys to read. I wanted to write something that would interest my sons that would be fast-paced, complicated and exciting. I also wanted something that wasn’t a regurgitation of what had already been done…no elves, dwarves, unicorns, vampires, dragons or zombies.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s Young Adult (or strong reader Middle Grade) Epic Fantasy /Adventure

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s difficult to say. Although I admit to using photos of different actors as models for certain characters, I find that the best movies are often done with unknowns. There is more room for actors to interpret their work when the public doesn’t have preconceived expectations. Star Wars and Harry Potter both starred relative unknowns and were tremendously successful.


Please give a short synopsis of your book.

Cedron doesn’t fit in anywhere. His mother’s people cast him out and his father’s people want him dead. He’s a demon with the power of the deities and no clue how to control his abilities. Hunted and on the run, Cedron forms an uneasy alliance with Raika, a warrior with her own questionable agenda. Together, the two undertake a perilous journey to fulfill their personal destinies before the ancient evil that is threatening to overrun their land destroys everything.

How long did it take to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The draft that won the San Francisco Writer’s Conference took seven years to create. Muralia is a new world filled with unique features, creatures and peoples. It took another year of fine-tuning with an editor before I felt comfortable releasing this book to the public.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I loved the stories from the Arabian Nights  and the films about Sinbad the Sailor. I’ve always been fascinated with Persian and Middle Eastern culture, language, food and mythology. I wanted to write an adventure like those that made my heart pound in fear or weep in the face of tragedy. My heroes should be clever, irreverent and flawed but with redeeming qualities that make me want to cheer them on; like Sinbad, Aladdin or Ali Baba. Askari is Arabic for “warrior” and much of the inspiration for this trilogy comes from the Middle East.

For more inspirational images, see my PINTEREST Writing Inspiration board.


What else about your book might pique the readers’ interests?

“It sucks being half demon, everyone wants to kill me. I mean, what’s the good of having these powers when all they ever seem to do is hurt those I love. I can’t even protect myself from my attackers! Still, surfing through those caves to get away from the man-eating roshnaar was pretty cool. Learning to fight with an elite warrior is great, if humiliating because she’s a girl. But even Raika was impressed with my ability to harness the two of the five elements when I saved us from the Hinaek. I’m just hoping that we’ll be able to elude those pursuing us long enough to wash our clothes…Toran and Aneton smell worse than steaming mizaki piles!”

Cedron Varkaras in a letter to Sarohra from the Zigorman Marsh.


Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

ASKARI, Child of Muralia Book I is self-published and is available as hardcover, softcover, Kindle, Nook or e-book at or

The writers I’ve tagged for next week’s interview on February 20, 2013 are:

Amy Jarecki, author of Chihuahua Mama, Koicto and Virtue at

Deborah Bauer, author of Love Grounds and Coffee Poems, How to Go Gray Gracefully and Look Great and Migraine: Painful Inconvenience or Something Serious? at


Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized



2 responses to “Askari: The Next Big Thing!

  1. karenprince0

    February 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Hello, Mikko. ASKARI, Child of Muralia, sounds fantastic. I also grew up loving Arabian Nights so I think I am going to love this book. Not everyone realizes how much work and research goes into a book like this, even when it is fantasy and a lot of the world building is your own. So looking forward to reading.

  2. Lauren Sweet

    February 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Nice interview! (And I learned some things about the genesis of Askari that I didn’t know, too!) Thanks for your kind words about Aladdin’s Samovar. I should hang out here more often–I didn’t know about the Moonbeam award. What a wonderful honor.


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