Monday, 30 November 2015

Promo + Author Interview - Born of Shadow by Sarah Benson

Born of Shadow (The Shadow Wars Series Book 1) by Sarah Benson

On her seventeenth birthday, Kami receives a mysterious artifact and a ticket to visit her estranged grandparents in Egypt. When she arrives, no one is there to meet her. Alone and in an unfamiliar country, she quickly discovers her missing grandparents are only part of a greater threat. 

Whispers of strange creatures made of a shadowy substance can be heard among the nomads of the desert. A new queen has quietly come to power, given strength by a powerful evil unleashed when she opens an ancient jar. She won’t stop until she finds the remains of Alexander the Great, convinced that his body holds the secret to her becoming a god. Kami must rely on a band of misfit friends she makes along the way to save her grandparents and stop the queen. But does the handsome boy she just met have answers, or is he part of the reason for her grandparents’ disappearance? 

Born of Shadow is appropriate for upper middle grade readers, teens and readers of all ages who love a good fantasy story. It is the first book in the Shadow Wars Series.

 When did you start writing?

I have been writing ever since I was a kid. I received a journal as a child, and instead of recording my daily experiences, I made up things that seemed far more interesting. As an adult, I worked professionally as a graphic designer for over a decade before feeling the urging to return to my childhood love.

What makes you want to write?

I feel like the stories choose me. The characters voices and scenes just come to me and compel me to write them down. I love that sense of discovery as you work your way through your story.

Do you ever get writer's block and what do you do to get over it?

I think for me, writer’s block is more writer’s distraction. When the stresses of life pull my attention away from my writing, it’s difficult to get into my characters’ heads. If I make sure I get into my writing zone every day, I rarely get writer’s block. Another thing that helps if I get stuck is to do something creative that isn’t related to writing - play music, draw, make a craft, etc. Oftentimes this allows the creative mind to relax and the problems begin to solve themselves, allowing you to return to the writing.

Do you have a special way of going about writing?

My stories don’t come chronologically. As scenes come to me, I jot them down briefly as plot points. If the scene is longer and/or includes dialogue, I write paragraphs. I do a lot of this brainstorming before I write my first draft. Once I have the bulk of the story (I don’t need it all yet), I order the plot points and scenes. I don’t number my chapters yet because I often shuffle scenes around. As I’m writing, I will continue to move scenes if it makes more sense or if it improves the storytelling. Once the chapters are mostly set in place, I number (and title them depending on the stories).

Do you have any works in progress?

I am currently editing book 2 in “The Shadow Wars” series The Bloodstone Prophecy. I am also writing a NA romance called “Restless Hope” and outlining the third book in “The Shadow Wars series.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy playing the piano, singing, drawing and hiking. I also enjoy a good game of dodgeball or floor hockey. :)

How did you choose the character names for Born of Shadow?

They came from all over. Samuel T. Towers was named after a cop friend. I got Kamilah, Zaynah and Haji’s names from a baby naming app. With Kamilah, I wanted a name that could be both Egyptian and American. I recently learned that the shortened version she goes by, Kami, means God in Japanese, which I found very interesting. I have always liked the name Liam, so he had to be my leading man. Christopher is named after St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers. I found Ahmed and Layla’s names by looking at a list of Egyptian movie stars. I have always loved the name Yasmin, so I jumped at the chance to use it for Kami’s cousin. As for Galileo the turtle? Like Kami, he’s one of my favorite scientists.

Who is your favourite character in Born of Shadow?

This is a tough call, but probably Kami because she was one of the first characters that came to me and I relate to her so much. It has been fun watching her character growth over the course of the books.

How did you get the idea for Born of Shadow?

I have been obsessed with Greek mythology ever since I picked up “The Odyssey” as a precocious child. Later, in junior high and high school, I loved studying Egypt - the culture, artifacts, pyramids, mummies, all of it. The idea of this story all started with the jar. In myths like Pandora’s Box (which actually was a jar, not a box) and others, there is a force trapped that, if unleashed, could cause the destruction of mankind. So I took that concept, applied it to a Greek amphora and decided to bring Alexander the Great into the mix. There is a lot of mystery regarding his life, cause of death, and the location of his body. For many Egyptologists, finding Alexander the Great’s body would be like finding the Holy Grail. So I loved the idea of Kami’s grandfather being an Egyptologist with an obsession with Alexander the Great who accidentally uncovers something that should have remained buried.

What was your favourite part of writing Born of Shadow?

One of the best parts was immersing myself in the research. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed writing the action scenes.

What are you currently reading?

Red Rising (I’m actually listening to it on Audible). I am a little late to starting this series, but I’m enjoying it very much so far.

What is your favourite book?

Three way tie - Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Who is your favourite author?

Three way tie - Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Harper Lee.

What is your favourite film?

Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

What is your favourite TV show?


Quick-fire questions:

Chocolate or ice cream? Both!
Paperback or ebook? Paperback.
Dogs or cats? Dogs.
Go out or stay in? Stay in.
Summer or winter? Summer.

Thanks so much for the interview!

About the Author

Sarah Benson lives in a log cabin in the beautiful mountains near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She is a total Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte fangirl. She likes Batman (Christian Bale, not George Clooney), Mad Libs, & Thai food. She used to collect Bazooka Joe gum wrappers as a kid. She is a huge fan of Star Wars. She is still waiting for someone to manufacture a light saber that works properly. Sarah is married to her best friend and has four kids. She has worked as a journalist and graphic designer and is thrilled to now be writing fiction. Born of Shadow is a YA contemporary fantasy set in Egypt and is her first novel.