Today our special guest is Shauna Black, featuring her middle grade historical fantasy, Fury of the Storm Wizard. First the cover and the back blurb about the book:
A Storm is Brewing
In Silver Valley, an unusual string of mining accidents has locals whispering of dark magic. When the marshal sent to investigate goes missing, his young assistant Boone turns to Jesse and Eliza for help. But Jesse is a new mage with raw magic, and Eliza is hiding a secret. The three must learn to trust each other before the valley is destroyed and they are ripped away from everything they hold dear.
Let’s meet the author:
Shauna E. Black fell in love at an early age. Her first romances resided on the shelves of the mystery section in the library. She went through The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, and Sherlock Holmes before someone introduced her to The Chronicles of Prydain. This sparked an enduring love for wizards, dragons, magic, and all things fantasy that Shauna still enjoys today. She always has her head in the clouds and her nose in a book.
Naturally, her love for reading evolved into a desire to create, and she became a writer. When she was a young teen, her English teacher made the mistake of offering extra credit for original short stories, and was suddenly swamped with Shauna’s writing. Dutifully reading each story (at least, she wrote encouraging things in the margins), this teacher inspired Shauna to follow her dreams, leaving her with a warm spot in her heart for all English teachers.
Today, Shauna still keeps a box in the attic full of early manuscripts, most written in pencil on lined paper. She lives in the high desert of the southwest with the other loves of her life: her husband and four children. She likes to drag them along on springtime hiking adventures to the many Anasazi ruins near her home, where she finds inspiration for her writing. She also likes to bake bread, do anything artsy, and travel to exotic locations to collect wind chimes.
And now, based upon the title of the book, our interview questions with Shauna:
S is for Setting: Where does your story take place and what is special about this location?
Fury of the Storm Wizard is a historical fantasy that takes place in the late 1800s in a Colorado mining town. I chose this location because my ancestors worked the silver mines in that area. Although my novel’s town has a different name, it’s based on the mountain community of Lake City, Colorado. I love the mountains and the greenery and the lake in that area, but my character doesn’t like it so much. He’s from Kansas, so he feels boxed in by the mountains all around him.
T is for Trials: What are some of the things (no spoilers) that your characters learn through their trials?
Jesse is the main character. He has a lot of difficult things happen to him in a short amount of time. When his mother dies, he is struck by lightning that gives him powerful wild magic he can’t control at first. Then, his father moves them from the Kansas prairie to the Colorado mountains. He starts to really overcome these trials when he meets Boone (a dragon who can transform into a human) and finds out Boone has gone through similar things, but doesn’t let them get him down. Jesse overcomes his own trials with the support of his family and friends, and learns that he is worthy of being loved, in spite of his mistakes. That knowledge helps him to have courage when he most needs it.
O is for Origins: How did you come up with the idea for this story?
I went to a writing conference where the speaker talked about a line popping into her head that started her first novel. It inspired me. I went home mulling over her talk and all of a sudden a line popped into my head: “Sometimes your mother really does know best. She always said I would come to a sticky end. Of course, my mother was a two-headed dragon.” Along with the words, came a picture of a dragon tangled in rope, hanging over an abandoned mine shaft. I wrote it first as a short story, but discovered that I loved the characters so much that I was compelled to turn it into a novel. Through many revisions, that first line was eventually cut, but Boone still gets tangled in rope over a mine shaft somewhere in the middle of the book.
R is for risks: What would your main characters each say is their greatest risk they have undertaken? How about yours?
When Jesse tells Boone about the huge weight of guilt he carries over the death of his mother and the harmful things his magic has done, he makes himself vulnerable. But he’s rewarded for finally opening up when he and Boone become friends.
As for me, probably the greatest risk I’ve ever taken is in publishing this book. I hope that doesn’t sound cheesy. 🙂 I’m naturally a very shy person, so the idea of putting myself out there in the public eye as a published author is a pretty daunting one, for me. You kind of bleed your heart and soul into writing a book, so it’s also frightening to offer that up as a sacrifice to the critics out there in the world. Will anybody like it? Will they rip it to shreds? I’ve dreamt of being a published author all my life. When I went through a bout with cancer a couple of years ago, I decided that I would no longer let my fear keep me from realizing my dream. But as I was going through the process of getting the book ready for publication, I kept having these little panic attacks. So I would listen to a song my kids like called Go by the McClain Sisters, and there’s one line that says “Don’t be scared, just go!” I would repeat this mantra to myself and try to overcome my fears. It also helped to remember that I had already done something really hard, in overcoming cancer, so I knew I could do this publication thing. I like to visit schools and talk about that with the kids, let them know that they can have courage and overcome things in their lives that seem hard.
M is for magic- I love magic. How does the magic work in your world. Accessible to few or all? Does everyone know it exists?
One of the characters in an earlier incarnation of Fury of the Storm Wizard said something to the effect that magic always comes in a traumatic way, when life deals a potential wizard a rough blow. For example, when Jesse’s mother dies, he’s hit by lightning that sparks the magic already inside him. Then the new wizard has to learn to control this wild magic. So, magic can do wonderful things, but it’s also very powerful and dangerous and requires a strong will to master, in addition to training. A trained wizard, or mage as I call them, works magic by using glyphs—like petroglyphs or hieroglyphs. They get this training at a place called the Veiled Canyon, which is similar to Mesa Verde, only populated with people who have magic and know about it. So, magic is hidden from the general population. Boone is strictly forbidden from turning into his dragon form where non-magical people might see him; but of course, he breaks the rules now and again.
Wizards– What are the Storm Wizards and are there other types?
A thundermage is the “technical” term for a storm wizard, and that’s what Jesse is. It’s one of the most powerful types of wizards because he can control the weather. I based his acquisition of magic on a real live event: the violent tornado systems that moved through Kansas and nearby states in 1896 and were labeled at that time “The Storm of the Century.” By the way, this is the same event that the Wizard of Oz is based on (the tornado that carries Dorothy to Oz). Other types of wizards with specialized powers include terramage, mirrormage, and dragonmage. You’ll have to read the book to find out what they do. 😉