Thanks for joining us at the book club Barbara.
Why did you choose to write novels in the YA Urban Fantasy genre?
I've always loved a story with a magical element—from princess stories when I was a child to Anne Rice's witches and vampires—I may have loved urban fantasy before it was even a recognized genre! I chose to write for young adults not only because I live with one, which provides me with perspective and inspiration, but also because I feel like they're less close-minded and the world is still their oyster.
Where is your book set and why did you choose that location?
The book is set in Michigan, my home state. Since sacred ground is pivotal to the story, I chose a small town (whose name has been changed to protect the innocent) that is close to real Native American burial grounds. The area also served the story with its close proximity to the Lake Michigan shoreline.
I’d like to know more about Soulshifter. Can you give us a little background into why you wrote the novel?
I wrote Soulshifter for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. I had heavily researched local legends and other mythologies for my first novel, Thunderstone, and had a lot of leftover ideas to use. The premise of the story, where a boy is so profoundly changed by his attempt to secure a successful future that he's no longer sure what he wants, was inspired by the band name Escape the Fate.
I’d like to know more about your main character. Can you tell us more about him/her?
Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood comes from humble beginnings. For as long as he can remember, his family has belonged to a transcendental sect whose members have spiritual or psychic abilities. Jack himself is a soulshifter—he can cross worlds—and it's always been his dream to earn a high rank within the sect. As devoted as he is to the sect, he tries to keep that part of his life away from school as it is largely misunderstood and sect members are often regarded as freaks. Jack never gives his word lightly and is mild-mannered, letting his wild-side out when he plays his electric guitar.
Can you tell us a little about the other supporting characters?
Natalie is a classmate of Jack's although their only prior acquaintance was due to their lockers being next to each other. Her father is an important business man with a fat bank account. Early in life she lived in foreign countries until her family settled down in the US when she started school. Unable to adjust to small-town life, Natalie's mother left and Natalie was bought up by her father. She's petite, attractive and well-known at school. Her friendship with her best friend is deeply forged after spending her formative years without a mother. She gets to know Jack when that best friend disappears.
They say all fiction books have pivotal points in the book where the reader just can’t put the book down. What’s one pivotal point in Soulshifter?
I think once Jack and Natalie get to the underworld, the reader just has to know what happens next. I've had more than one person tell me they stayed up too late at night because they couldn't put the book down—something an author loves to hear!
What’s next on the agenda for you, Barbara?
I'm nearly finished with the sequel to Thunderstone (Legacy in Legend Book Two) and am looking forward to giving the manuscript a "rest" and then diving into edits. I already have ideas in mind for Book Three and can't wait to see what the characters get up to next!
What would you like to say to your readers and fans?
I'd really like readers and fans to be part of my writing adventures! I held a contest to title Soulshifter and it was so much fun. I'd also love to hear from readers and fans, to get their suggestions or answer questions, or whatever... It's just so great to talk books with others who love to read. Oh, and don't forget, you can check out the Thunderstone Prequel, Heart of Ice, for FREE! Click here to download it.
About The Book
Author: Barbara Pietron
Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Format: Paperback - 290 pages / eBook / PDF
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood knew exactly what he wanted. Until he got it. Jack was content to stay unnoticed by pretty and popular track star, Natalie Segetich, until her best friend Emma disappears. Natalie swears something took Emma, and though most people write Natalie off as traumatized and confused, Jack is a soulshifter and he knows the human-stealing Enuuki—hell's messengers—are real. As a soulshifter, Jack can cross into the underworld so he sees Emma's rescue as an opportunity to prove himself a valuable member of his transcendental sect—and a way to secure a future otherwise out of his reach. Although he needs Natalie's help to prepare for the mission, Jack intends to go to the underworld alone. But as a viable plan takes shape, it's clear the best chance of success means Natalie must accompany him. On the eve of the quest, when Jack is promised the hand of a respected elder's daughter—a dream come true—he realizes he's no longer sure what he wants. But it's too late to back out, not with the sect and Natalie counting on him. Pursued by the dark lord's henchmen and ghastly mutant creatures, Jack and Natalie struggle to come out ahead in a battle and barter for souls. In the end, Jack will have to decide his own fate, because nothing short of a deal with the devil will get all three of them out of hell alive.
Revelations from the Dark Realm
Feedback shrieked from the electric guitar amp, annihilating the harmonious blend of drums, bass guitar and electric piano. Jack winced as he fumbled for the volume knob on his guitar, pretending he didn’t see Tommy, the lead singer, shoot him a furious glare. Head down, Jack concentrated on the next few chord progressions, until Tommy launched into his signature vocal screaming. Then Jack stole a glance to his left and caught the eye of his best friend, Wes, who skillfully delivered the pulse of the track on his bass guitar. Wes lifted his eyebrows and Jack answered with a slight shrug and an apologetic frown.
It was one thing if Jack screwed up this opportunity for himself, but Wes had talked the band into giving Jack a chance this summer when they'd lost their lead guitarist to college. Jack didn't want to embarrass Wes, or give Tommy a reason to give his friend a hard time. The singer hadn't wanted Wes in the band either, but when the other members heard Wes play and realized he was a wizard on the bass guitar, Tommy had been out-voted. It had taken two years for Wes to earn the lead singer's grudging respect and Jack hated to mess that up.
They finished the set and Jack ducked out of his guitar strap, leaning the instrument against the cinderblock wall of Fletch's—the drummer's—basement. He ran both hands through his thick curls, for the first time thankful that his mom had insisted he get a haircut before school started. Shoulder-length for most of the summer, his dark brown mane was now tamed to a mass of loose curls that ended at the base of his jaw—not as rock and roll, but certainly cooler.
He turned and nearly collided with Tommy. "What's up with the feedback, Ironwood? We've got a gig in two days!"
"Sorry, man." Jack shook his head. He noticed John, the keyboardist, give him and Tommy a wide berth as he beat a hasty retreat. "Just having an off day. I'm low on sleep."
"Well you better get it together by Monday. A lot of people come out to the park on Labor Day, and we don't need you making the rest of us look like amateurs." He spun on his heel and stomped up the steps before Jack could reply.
Fletch offered Jack a sports drink. "You've been playing good all summer. Just don't choke when you get on stage." He laughed, but his eyes were serious.
"Thanks." Jack took the plastic bottle and cracked the lid open. "I'll be fine. I promise." He took a long drink, letting the slightly salty, citrusy liquid soothe his dry tongue and throat before bending to put his guitar into its case.
An intermittent chink of metal on metal sounded from the base of the stairwell. "Ready?"
Jack glanced up to see Wes tossing a bundle of keys into the air and then catching them. "Yep." He noticed that Wes had decided to leave his guitar at Fletch's. They were going to rehearse again tomorrow, but Jack felt like he ought to go home and get in some extra practice. He followed his friend out to the minivan, which smelled like the burgers and fries they'd eaten on the way to rehearsal, and loaded his gear into the back.
After Jack plopped into the passenger seat and closed the door, Wes spoke up. "Dude." He drew out the solitary word and added a sigh, conveying both disappointment and sympathy.
"I know," Jack said quickly. "I'm not a hundred percent today. Yesterday was my end-of-summer spirit-walk."
Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soulshifter-barbara-pietron/1121757175?ean=9780991602124
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17507791-soulshifter-by-barbara-pietron
About The Author
After years in the corporate world, Barbara Pietron found herself with a second chance to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her lifetime love of books and the written word returned one answer: writer. Drawing from her technical writing experience, she began by writing non-fiction magazine pieces and achieved both regional and national publication before trying her hand at her true passion, fiction. In addition to Soulshifter, Barbara is also the author of Thunderstone, Book One of the Legacy in Legend series and a prequel to Thunderstone, Heart of Ice, is available in e-book format. Book Two of the Legacy in Legend series is slated for fall of 2016. You can visit Barbara's website at www.barbarapietron.com
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