West Palm Beach author re-releases Florida fantasy series, looks forward to future installments
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, July 1, 2020 - With four books already released and several more on the way, West Palm Beach author Taylor Thomas Smythe re-issued his Kingdom of Florida children’s fantasy series with a redesigned look in hopes of attracting new readers.
Smythe, who grew up in South Florida, says his home state was a major inspiration for the series. “I’ve always been drawn to the wild, untamed nature of the Florida wilderness, as well as the beautiful Mediterranean-inspired architecture that peppers certain areas of the state. It just seemed like the perfect setting for a brand-new fantasy world unlike those we’ve seen so often.”
Tracing his love and practice of writing to his early years (in which he penned serialized Star Wars fan fiction for a few friends), Smythe finally ventured into novels when the idea for Kingdom of Florida came in the spring of 2018. “A friend and fellow Florida author—David Athey—kept using this phrase ‘the kingdom of Florida’ to describe the mysterious and enchanting nature of certain parts of our state. One day while sitting at a coffee shop, the idea came into my head to take that literally. What if Florida was actually an ancient kingdom, full of princes, princesses, magic, and creatures?”
The series, which has echoes of such classics as The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, or L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, follows the journey of a group of South Florida children as they discover a magical parallel world ruled by an evil prince. Eschewing a cliched Anglo-Saxon fantasy setting in favor of a more diverse and colorful palette, Smythe remains true to tropes of the genre while devising a world that feels at once timeless and fresh.
Smythe announced that the Kingdom of Florida series would get a massive visual overhaul, which includes a new website, an updated logo, more colorful and cohesive social media content, and simplified cover art for the four books in the series so far. He also plans to release audiobook editions, which he will narrate himself. This decision comes nearly two years after he began writing the series, in which time Smythe says he’s learned much about publishing and marketing a book in the digital age.
“To get your book noticed these days, you need to ensure your cover is readable at all sizes,” he says. “With so many ways people can read and consume books these days, it’s vital that readers be able to identify your book from the smallest thumbnail on a mobile device to the larger print version you hold in your hand. On the original releases, the series title was far too small and thin. The new look remedies that issue and adds other helpful features, such as the book number on the spine.”
Readers can expect the same, light-hearted stories (and whimsical, monotone illustrations from illustrator Alice Waller) between the covers, though, as they catch up before the next installment arrives in the latter months of this year. The first four Kingdom of Florida books are independently published and available at www.kingdomofflorida.com in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle ebook.
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