IVINS – St. George News writer Alexa Verdugo Morgan makes her debut in fiction writing with “The Cave of Souls,” released Sept. 16 on Amazon.com. It’s up to the reader to decide which is more fascinating: The book or the story behind it.
An action-adventure/fantasy/science-fiction novel, “The Cave of Souls” is set in the distant future of 2101. Europe has been drastically altered by wars, political and financial fronts are in upheaval. Two of the most powerful countries are now the New Robidogian Republic, heavily populated yet generally impoverished, and the Republic of Furbilan, tiny in size but ahead of the curve in both government and technology.
The latter is home to Cedaerek and Lexsonerah Anfillian, children of widower and workaholic President Stoktion Anfillian. Due to the risks their prestigious position poses, the children have not been allowed to attend public school, socialize or even leave the presidential mansion their entire lives. When the forced isolation becomes too much to bear, 15-year-old Lexsonerah devises a daring plan to run away and convinces her reluctant brother, 13, to come along.
Though their escape from their father’s high-security compound is a success, the sheltered siblings soon encounter many forms of danger in the capital city of Varanati. Cedaerek is harassed by thugs and both are swindled by a cagey, clever street boy. And when they fall into the hands of a ruthless criminal organization known as the “Rabasti Robidogia,” their adventure ends and a battle for survival begins.
Held captive and forced to work as slaves in a treacherous mine, Cedaerek and Lexsonerah must learn quickly to endure the grueling labor and wrath of the sadistic guards. Even more important is knowing who to trust. While some slaves take their side, the siblings also make enemies, especially after Cedaerek’s forbidden romance with a peasant girl nearly costs them both their lives.
While they struggle to adapt and survive in a harsh new environment, a massive investigation into their disappearance is launched. Led by hard-nosed Inspector Mireya Baliesiek and her meticulous, overbearing partner Vik Tanin, the elite team includes a combat-smart army general, computer prodigy and brilliant yet emotionally fragile former detective. Together, they search tirelessly for any trace of the missing teenagers.
As precious time ticks by, all must put forth a tremendous effort of courage and will to bring Cedaerek and Lexsonerah home – before it’s too late.
The author’s inspiration
Alexa traced the origins of “The Cave of Souls” back to age seven, when she wrote stories about a mystical world called “Furbilan.” Though the novel is far different from those tall tales, her spirit of creativity is on full display in the highly imaginative plot, characters and technology that, one day, may not be fiction anymore.
Though Alexa is just 16 years old, she said that her age and the fact that her main characters are teenagers shouldn’t discourage adults from buying her book.
“It could be classified as young adult, but it’s definitely not a children’s book,” she said. “I believe that readers of all ages who enjoy an entertaining fantasy or adventure novel will appreciate it.”
With the exception of some proofreading by a community writer’s group, Alexa wrote and edited the entire work herself. She said that the best part about it has been sharing it with her family: her grandparents, uncle and mother, whom she gave credit to for keeping her encouraged during the two-year writing process, even when it looked like there was no end in sight.
The illustration gracing the cover was created by Alexa’s grandfather, Stephen Harold Morgan. A gifted artist in pencil, watercolors and other mediums, Stephen also drew portraits of the main characters to help his granddaughter visualize them as she wrote. It worked.
“They’re stunning,” she said. “He brought the whole book to life with his talent and I’m so proud to have his work on the cover.”
Alexa also drew inspiration from another, less likely place. She dedicated the character of Lexsonerah to her dog Lexie, who she said provided not only her character’s name but her persona: frustratingly stubborn at times, yet fiercely loyal and always a faithful friend.
Creating “The Cave of Souls” was an equally satisfying and trying process and Alexa said that no matter what happens in the future, she will always be proud to have completed it. She does have plans for a sequel and possibly a third book in the future, but for now wants to focus on her journalistic career.
“It’s great because I have no pressure on me to sell this many copies or make this much money,” she said. “Of course I would be thrilled if it’s a big success, but I just want people to enjoy it. Hopefully, it will mean as much to someone else as it has to me.”
“The Cave of Souls” is now available in Kindle edition on Amazon.com.
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