Author Interview: Shea Berkley

The Book Monsters are thrilled to welcome Shea Berkley. Shea is the author of The Marked Son, book one in the Keeper of Life series.

Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he's never met, he had no idea what.

When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents' farm, he knows he's seen her before…in his dreams. He's felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.

Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he's completely insane or he's about to have the adventure of his life, because where they're going is full of creatures he's only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death…

SB: I’d like to thank Kate and Kristin for inviting me to The Book Monsters today.
TBM: Shea, you are so welcome! We are so excited to have you. Now, for a few questions…


Describe your book in five words or less.
Exciting. Dangerous. Amusing. Mysterious. Unexpected.

What has your road to publications been like?
It’s been like an old road. It started out pretty gravelly. I’d spit out pebbles of ideas and hope they hit the right person. Then I educated myself, and the road became paved. (oh yeah, I’m totally taking this analogy all the way, baby!) But it was riddled with pot holes and cracks. Editors would call, ask for more and send my stories up the acquisition road only for it to hit a pothole (some reason for rejection) and bottom out. That happened three times in two years. Frustrating as heck, but that’s publishing.

In the last ten years, I’ve been offered deals that were sub-standard and deals that were downright insulting. Each time, I had to stop and ask myself if being published was worth the risk those roads presented. In the end, I decided to wait for a better road. Then, when I decided I just loved to write and would never sell, a deal came my way that was solid and trustworthy. I accepted an offer from Variance Publishing for my Epic Fantasy, Torrein: Age of Fear, a book I absolutely loved and had a blast writing. Soon after that one, another offer came in for The Marked Son, another fantasy, and again, the offer was solid.

I guess the moral of all this is that the road to publication isn’t perfect and it can be downright hazardous, but I patiently waited for the right publishers to show they cared, and now I am very glad I did.

How did the idea for "The Marked Son" come to you?
Once I started writing Young Adult novels, my fallen angels (aka my children) wanted me to write them something. As one of them put it, “What’s the point in having a mom who writes if said mom isn’t writing stuff I want to read?” Like a sucker, I fell for that reasoning, but the good thing is, I like the same kind of books my fallen angels like. Once they told me they wanted a story in the male point of view, I wrote The Marked Son.

Is there anything in particular that you find challenging in your writing?
(giggle, snort) All of it is challenging, from conception to writing The End. Honestly, if it’s too easy, then I’m probably being lazy and it’s not that good of a story. For me, writing is like trying to explain why bananas are yellow instead of blue. It’s a mystery, but I try my best to make sense of it.

What are some of your favorite books?
Oh gosh, I read a lot and in many genres, so this isn’t going to be easy. I adore In the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, then there’s the Harry Potter books. Cane River by Lalita Tademy and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold were awesome. In the Woods by Tana French. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell. The Road by Cormac Mccarthy. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.

I’ll stop now because I could go on and on and on…

What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
My next book that’s coming out in November of this year (2011) is Torrein: Age of Fear from Variance Publishing. It’s a coming-of-age, YA Epic Fantasy that I had a blast writing. Here’s the blurb:

What if the only hope of saving a magical world depended on an ordinary boy?

Taelyon is a land divided; its mortals distrust those different than them; its wizards live indifferent to the suffering of others to see the danger on their doorstep. The battle for dominance is never far off, and death is a daily fear provoked by King Hcaon the Younger's inability to lead.

Torrein’s parents are powerful wizards, and Torrein's greatest fear is that he'll be denied the gift of magic. When magic is denied him, he's chased from his own village by those he used to call friends. Alone and wandering in a world he doesn't know, Torrein doesn't understand that his destiny is far greater than any he could have achieved if magic had been granted him. What plagues him is a desire he can't have—to be with his family and live his life in peace.

Peace is not easily found in Taelyon. The destiny Torrein fights lies in a prophecy soaked in blood. To claim his rightful power, he must calm his fears and face those who want him and his people dead. Everyone has been blinded to the real evil in their midst, and it will be a fight till the end of the age to reclaim Taelyon's freedom. Though it's hard for him to accept, it’s up to Torrein to protect those who have been deceived, and to make sure the evil in their midst doesn't destroy them all.

Once again, it’s told in the male point of view, and again, you can thank my kids for that.

I’m currently working on book two and three of The Keepers of Life series. After that, I have several projects that would be fun to do. Some are YA, others are more for adults. We’ll see. I’m excited about them all and where they’ll lead me.


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