Student author McKee publishes second novel in fantasy trilogy

Grace Powers, Staff Writer

Armstrong student Loretta Mckee holds both of her published works.

In May of last year, student author Loretta McKee published her first book, “The Quest for Faith,” in her fantasy trilogy, “The Sun and the Shrub.” This year marks the next step in her writing journey as she publishes the second book, “The Journey of Hope.”

In this sequel, main character Laurel learns what it means to find hope in the face of despair as she travels through the kingdom of Terra, a land characterized by treacherous mountains, caves and deserts. She must run from The Emperor’s Army and Malum’s forces who are trying to steal the King Virtue of Hope jewel.

In book one, readers witnessed Laurel finding confidence in her abilities and faith in her Monarchs, the Rulers of Terra. In “The Sun and the Shrub,” McKee explains that readers will follow Laurel as she discovers what it means “to believe when all seems hopeless.” She must face the obstacle of despair as she struggles to find Hope in her dire situation.

Laurel will undergo immense growth in her strength, both in what she can do and in what others expect of her. Laurel must face the challenges of personal growth that accompany such developments.

Through the course of this novel, readers will discover whether Laurel can face these challenges and emerge triumphant in her journey for Hope.

Although many characters in “The Sun and the Shrub” are influenced by real people in McKee’s life, Laurel’s character is based off what McKee described as “what [she] remember[s] from being a teenager and what troubled young women go through in general.”

McKee takes young girl’s “curiosity, timidity, [dreaminess], and search for independence and meaning in their life,” and uses Laurel as a medium to guide her readers.

McKee was influenced by both Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”when she created the fictional kingdom during downtime in her high school English class.

McKee crafted the complex world of Terra, creating a “happy medium” between the highly complex world in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

McKee explained that the idea for Terra was spontaneous. She loved the idea so much that the original short story grew to a trilogy.

For McKee, the success of this trilogy “means that fairy tales are not dead.”

She explained that “[she] wanted to write something that brings back the charm of a fairytale from our childhood but flood it with the excitement of a modern adventure tale.”

“The Sun and the Shrub” story line attempts to follow the pattern of fairy tale fantasy that will keep McKee’s readers guessing with every turn of the page.

Her goal to create a “fantastic surprise” for her readers falls in line with her father’s motivation for her novel after seeing her become frustrated with the endings of various movies and books.

For McKee, writing is something she plans on keeping in her life. Although she is a nursing major, McKee explained that her love for writing has given her even more story ideas that she plans to pursue in the future.

For struggling writers, McKee advised that “it is best to just write [with] yourself in mind. If you are happy with what you want to say and how you say it and enjoy your story as if you were the only reader, then that is all that matters.”

Those interested in reading the first two books in “The Sun and the Shrub” trilogy, visit or email for more information.