Today I’d like to welcome Shea Berkley, author of the brand new young adult fantasy, The Marked Son! Shea is here today courtesy of Entangled Books. Entangled is also giving away an e-copy of The Marked Son, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post.
Welcome to the blog, Shea! Can you tell us a little bit about your brand new modern fantasy, The Marked Son?
Thank you for inviting me over for a chat,Kristin. I’m still slightly confused when someone asks me to appear on their blogs,like they’ve contacted the wrong person,and then I remember I wrote a book people actually like and I’m just as shocked as everyone else. I can tell you loads about The Marked Son,but I’ll try to behave and keep myself contained. I get a little excited when I talk about books and writing.
What do you like best about writing fantasy?
(bouncing in my seat) Anything is possible in fantasy! If I can think it up and justify its existence, I can write about it. Like if I wanted six mythical creatures and a human to band together and go on a journey to destroy a magical ring in a fiery mountain, I could write it… Oh yeah, I think someone’s already done that. Or I could have this kid who’s almost killed be a wizard and go to a boarding school for wizards and…humm, someone’s done that one too. Or how about two brothers and two sisters getting sucked into a wardrobe and spit out on the other side into a kingdom ruled by… grrr, that one’s taken too. (grin)
See? Some of our most beloved stories are written in the fantasy genre. They explore truth and love and justice and cruelty and our deepest desires and the list goes on and on. Seriously, writing fantasy is a great way to delve into our imaginations and have fun.
What is your most unusual writing quirk?
Spider Solitaire. I bet you didn’t know Spider Solitaire is mandatory for writing well. (oh, wait, it’s just me, huh?) I play until I win (not that I’m anal about it…much) and then I can go write. I don’t know what it is but it relaxes me. Thankfully, I’m fairly good at it so I don’t spend all morning bemoaning my suckage at Spider and cursing the cards for not letting me win.
What do you like to see in a good book?
Great characters that I can cheer for or wish a horrible death upon. (doesn’t everybody?) I want the complete package, though. I want a great plot, too. Something that will take me away from the everyday ho-hum of my life. I want to believe that even if it’s impossible, it just might be possible. Dang it, I want a ridiculously loud, raucous rollercoaster ride of non-stop fun!
That’s my “fantasy me” talking.
The funny thing is, I read in nearly every genre, plus literary works. I don’t have any one particular type of book that makes me swoon. All great stories have their swoon point. I swoon over Rohinton Mistry’s ability to create a deep, beautiful picture with his words in A FINE BALANCE. I swoon over the thrilling adventures of HARRY POTTER. I swoon over the bone-deep misery the people suffer in Alice Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES. Books are there to give solace, as well as teach and entertain. I’ll take whatever is given me if it’s well done, and I’ll applaud the author when I’m done.
What makes you toss aside a book in frustration?
A slapped-together crapfest of words that describes cardboard characters acting completely ridiculous for no apparent reason. Really. No lie. If an author didn’t care what went between the pages, why should I? You can tell when you’re reading a book if the author just wanted the next paycheck or s/he really cared about the story. I want that passion an author feels on the page, and if the author isn’t willing to go there, then s/he should turn off the computer, put the pen down, turn of the recorder and walk away.
I read in your bio that you have 5 kids. How do you balance writing with having a family?
I ignore them. (grin) Seriously, I write when they’re at school. When they hit the front door, I stop writing. Family is really important to me. I can be an awesome writer and win mega awards and be a NYT bestselling author, but if I’m a so-so mom, I’ve failed.
When you’re not writing, or running after your kids, what do you like to do to unwind?
I kickbox. No one really believes I do it. I’m not particularly big, and I’m not a natural fighter, so I’m not saying I’m good at it, but I like to hit the bag and spar with my trainers. (it’s playtime for me) They are by far the most patient men on earth. It takes me a while to settle down and get to work (my attention can wander in a heartbeat), and I’ve been known to throw a temper tantrum or two when one of them asks me to do something I don’t like (jump ropes are from the devil), but they just smack me aside the head and keep me focused on what we’re doing.
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events you’d like to share?
I’m busy working on the books in the Keepers of Life series
Sadly for me, my crew (editors, agent and publicist) insist I get online one to three times a day. If anything, I am obedient. So, if you ever have a burning passion to get ahold of me, you can.
You can find Shea at her Website | Facebook | Goodreads | RubySlipperedSisterhood.com
Easing back, I press my spine into the prickly bark and rub my hands through my hair. It’s obvious they don’t know I’m in their world. According to Navar, I’m not even real. Granel is a problem. He believes in my existence and has enough sway over Navar that he’s gotten him to at least consider the possibility I’m real and a threat.After seeing what I’ve just seen, I’ve got to get back home now more than ever.Before I can move, the guard appears, dangling upside-down from the branch above me with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. “Hello, mutt.”He cartwheels out of the tree, lands on his feet, and swings his sword in one fluid motion. I dodge the blade and spring to my feet, calling on the tree branches to capture him. The man is quickly tangled, yet with a heavy blow, his sword slices neatly through the wood. He drops to the ground unfazed.With eyes glittering, he stalks me.I fumble for the sword Bodog gave me as real fear begins to grow. This guy is a hardened soldier. I don’t stand a chance.I dodge his blade time and again, feeling the whistle of cold steel every time it passes. I manage to pull out my sword and then something unexpected happens. The blade ripples to life with a flash of fire. I
thrust the sword in front of me and gape. Holy flaming fire!The soldier stops and smiles. “Well, well, well. You’re full of surprises.”“Just wait. I’ve got more,” I say and shrug with a confidence I don’t exactly feel. Hopefully my act has him thinking I’m used to a good flaming sword fight. To back up my false confidence, I find myself lunging forward, my flaming sword slicing toward his head. He spins away and the battle begins in earnest.I must be crazy. I’ve never fought with a sword. He acts like he was born with it in his hand. His blade comes frighteningly close to my head and cuts off a few strands of my hair before I push him away. Trees are used as vaulting points. Branches as obstacles. Forest debris whirls. We tussle and my sword flies out of my hand.Desperate for cover, I duck behind a tree, breathless and sore. I’m at my wit’s end. How long can I postpone the inevitable? I duck as his blade swipes at me again. I don’t want to die. Not like this. Not here. Not now.