Shami Stovall - Bonding Humans with Mythical Creatures
Shami Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate. As a child, Stovall enjoyed every portal fantasy, space opera, and magic series she could get her hands on, but the first novel to spark her imagination was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, especially fantasy series and military science fiction, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and best selling author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world. As our Author of the Day, Stovall tells us all about her latest book, Knightmare Arcanist.
Please give us a short introduction to what Knightmare Arcanist is about.
Knightmare Arcanist is about a teenage boy and girl, Volke and Illia respectively, who have been apprenticed to a gravekeeper on their tiny island. In their world, there are people who bond with mythical creatures to become arcanists—a person who can wield magic. The type of magic you have is determined by the creature you bond to.
Example: a phoenix arcanist will have fire and healing powers.
Volke, tired of being a gravedigger, takes a crazy leap of faith to impress a phoenix (in the hopes of convincing it to bond with him) but something terrible happens.
I hate spoiling too much of the story, but let’s just say the book has a lot of twists and turns!
Was there something in particular that made you want to tackle this?
I really enjoy adventure novels like How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson. They’re super fun and I wanted to add my unique voice to the mix.
Why Fantasy? What drew you to this genre?
I’ve always enjoyed fantasy. My first favorite fantasy novel would have to be The Hobbit. After that, I remember consuming them all, especially high fantasy and adventure.
Tell us more about Volke Savan. What makes him so special?
He’s super determined. I’ve never written a character with such a drive—he aims to be a legendary arcanist, and he’ll do whatever it takes! At the same time, he’s tempered with a gentle demeanor and likes to envision himself as the hero in any given situation.
When first faced with a terrible threat (again, no spoilers) he risks everything to save another teen from the island, even if that other teen was a total D. That’s just the kind of guy Volke is.
Do you have a set of rules for your world? Is there a process you go through that helps define these?
The rules of the world are explained in easy to digest chunks. Everyone gets a different mythical creature to bond to, and that helps showcase the different times of powers. Someone gets a phoenix, but Volke gets a knightmare (not a spoiler! It’s in the title!) and the knightmare has the power over darkness and fear.
Who are some of your favorite authors in the genre?
My favorite fantasy authors would have to be Ann Bishop, Neil Gainman, and Brandon Sanderson.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I can draw. And play video games. I’m really good at Super Smash!
Your book contains all sorts of obscure critters, instead of your usual dragons and griffins. Why did you take this approach?
I wanted the main character to have a unique creature so that the audience didn’t immediately know what he could do. This way, when Volke discovers new abilities, it’s a surprise to everyone!
It’s the same with a lot of the side characters. It makes for a world of discovery and wonder—you never know what you’re going to find!
Who are you speaking to in the book? Who do you imagine your audience to be?
But seriously—I do see myself as the primary target. Someone who loves adventure, humor, magic, coming of age… I could see anyone, of any age, enjoying this novel. Some words might be too hard for someone under the age of 11, but from then on I think it’s a great novel for the whole family.
Knightmare Arcanist is the first book in a series. How do the rest of the books tie in with this one?
Volke and Illia join a guild of arcanists and the rest of the books deal with their escapades in the guild. They take down pirates, investigate a corrupt coliseum, discover long-lost mythical creatures, and even fall in love. It’s really a series that chronicles their lives.
Do you suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do to combat it?
Not really. But if I do, I typically take a walk and I’m back in the creative mood!
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I like to write at night, surrounded my plushies (stuff animals, mostly pokemon). After 10pm or so, no one is awake, it’s quiet, and I can do all the writing I want.
What are you working on right now?
The sequel to Knightmare Arcanist and the sequel to my sci-fi epic, Star Marque Rising! Both Dread Pirate Arcanist and Star Marque Vendetta should be out later this year.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
They can visit my website. I even have a free audio short story (fantasy, and with wolves!) that they can listen to just for stopping by!
I hope you all enjoy my award-winning short story, Weakness: sastovallauthor.com/2019/06/15/audio-short-story-weakness/