ESTEVAN — Popular Lampman novelist and playwright Maureen Ulrich – the author of the Jessie Mac hockey series – recently published the second book in her new saga.
Gabrielle Rouge, Winds of Change Book 2 follows the adventures of the main character introduced in Gabrielle and the Rebels, released in 2022.
Ulrich said the new book is a "mishmash" of coming of age, historical fantasy, alternative history, romance, action and adventure, and also STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
"I packed quite a bit in there. It's a historical fantasy. It feels like it might have happened, but it actually didn't happen," Ulrich shared.
The book was also influenced by a trip to Northern France, where Ulrich and her husband toured a lot of battlefields, which is similar to where the story is set.
In the sequel, the main character, Gabrielle, returns home, seeking peace and quiet after a lot of turmoil that took place in book 1. Her father died, so the question is who's going to take over and look after everything? Her mother and the local populace aren't ready to accept a 16-year-old girl taking on that role. Besides, Gabrielle has some important secrets to keep. But someone has to save her town from impending invasion by the Imperial Army.
"Lots of very, very high stakes," Ulrich said.
"Most books start where they're at home, and then they go away, but I started away and now she's come home because to me that seemed natural. After your father dies, it would be natural to want to go home to your mother and comfort her and take comfort from her. So that's the direction I took."
Ulrich noted that the first book in the series "almost wrote itself" since she already had all the ideas in place, but writing a sequel was difficult.
"I probably wrote three different versions, before I settled on this one, and was happy with this one. I've been working on this since 2018. But this particular version I crafted in about a year and a half," Ulrich said.
She also recently visited the Estevan Public Library to talk about her experiences with different ways of publishing.
"I've had experience in traditional publishing, and hybrid publishing, where I put some money in but work with a professional publisher, and also self-publishing," Ulrich said.
She said she opted for self-publishing for the latest book and for the first time she's created her own ISBN (the International Standard Book Number, a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally), which gave her a little more control over the content.
Gabrielle Rouge was released as an e-book on Dec. 15 and as a paperback on Jan. 15. It's available online through Kindle Unlimited and other platforms, and will be available locally at Henders Drugs.
The book is suitable for youths and adults alike, and Ulrich said the first feedback has been positive.
"It's been good. Some people have told me they like it better than the first one. I think maybe the first one might feel a little strange at first, as [readers] are figuring out where this is, who are the characters. But once you are settled in that world it feels more familiar, so maybe that's why the second book gets a little bit of a higher vote of approval," Ulrich shared.
She will be doing a launch at the Lampman Public Library on Feb. 15.
In the meantime, the work on book three has already begun, and Ulrich hopes to have it released in print by Dec. 15.