Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk who keeps her readers up all night and makes them miss work deadlines. Her fiction asks questions for which there are no easy answers while taking readers on a fine adventure that grips them heart and soul. You can find her work on Amazon and follow her blog on her website (www.Shawna-Reppert.com). You can friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts an amazing array of geekery. Shawna can also sometimes be found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her.
In Ravensblood we saw Raven’s struggle to escape the world of dark magic he’d committed to as a bitter young man. In Raven’s Wing he has to come to terms with both his past and his ancestry and figure out his new place in the Three Communities and among the people who enter his life. The task becomes more difficult, of course, when he finds himself on the run, trying to find the stolen Ravensblood in order to protect the Three Communities and beyond from the dangers presented by this powerful artifact in the wrong hands, and at the same time prove himself innocent of the theft.
Raven finds support in unlooked-for places, but he faces an unknown enemy who is cunning, ruthless and powerful.
“So, Cass, did your sweetums figure out how the oriental cartel is getting the jaguar parts through the detection wards?” Chuckie asked her as she crossed the threshold into their shared office.
As always, Chuckie had folded his gangly scarecrow limbs into an odd arrangement in his wooden chair, and as was often the case, had tipped said chair back against the wall at a dangerous angle. Cass shook her head, as much for his casual disregard of physics, gravity, and workplace safety as for what she imagined Raven’s reaction would be should he ever hear himself referred to as anyone’s ‘sweetums.’
Chuckie’s pale brown hair hung over his forehead; he seldom bothered with it unless it obscured his view of his computer screen. Chuckie, with his too-thin build and his obsession with Mundane electronics, hardly presented the standard image of a Guardian International Investigations agent. Barely twenty-two, and looking much younger than that, still he was an internationally renowned expert in magical-cyber interfaces.
Before his recruitment to GII, he had been the youthful mastermind behind the magical hack of the Mundane central security computer, a hack that had caused days of nationwide panic and years of strained relationships between the Mundane, Art, and Craft communities. And he’d done it on a dare.
She crossed over to his desk and handed him the brown bag from which wafted warm scents of cinnamon and chocolate. The grease stains had just begun to render translucent the smiling sun of the Sunshine Bakery logo. Chuckie let the chair thump down to rest properly on all four legs and dug through the bag in search of the oversized chocolate chip cookie he preferred to the scones she’d bought for herself.
Though the white walls of the office could be glaring in strong sunlight, that was seldom an inconvenience in Oregon. Today the room seemed grey as the paint picked up the dreary colours outside the window. Chuckie’s framed posters of galaxies and nebulas and her own recently purchased print of a Mount Hood sunrise in rose and purple watercolour could do little to brighten the day.
As well as gifting us with an exclusive excerpt, Shawna kindly agreed to an interview about her favourite books and a deeper insight in to her writing process.
Q. 1 Describe your book in three sentences:
In the award-winning first book of my alternate-universe urban fantasy, Raven struggled to escape the world of dark magic he’d committed to as a bitter young man. In the second book he has to come to terms with both his past and his ancestry, a task made harder when he finds himself on the run, trying to find the stolen Ravensblood. He must protect the people he has come to care about from the danger of this powerful artifact in the wrong hands, and at the same time prove he is not the thief!
Q 2 What inspired you to write this book?
To answer that, I would have to go back to how I came to write the first book. Now, I won’t try to sell the cliché’ that ‘it all came to me in a dream and I only wrote it down. ‘ To me that always sounded disingenuous. There’s a lot of craft that comes between the idea and the finished book, if the finished book is to be any good at all. But it is true that sometimes the subconscious has some pretty good ideas.
I was in the midst of my own dark night of the soul, in a place in my life where I was thinking a lot about issues of loyalty and of recovery from bad choices. I woke from a troubled sleep at three in the morning, when the world was dead quiet. I poured myself some whiskey, hoping it would relax me enough that I could get back to sleep. In that half-awake state, I turned on my computer, opened a new Word doc, and started writing. I knew I had a character who very much wanted to live, a character that was not depressed in any clinical sense and yet had decided that taking his own life was the best of his bad options. I knew this character had done some things that he deeply regretted. I knew that he was intelligent. I knew that what he was about to do was an act of courage, not of cowardice.
From there, I had to work backward to figure out how he got to this place and why he could see no other way out. I then had to move forward to find his way out. Now, any real writer has more ideas than they have time to write books. What makes an idea book-worthy is whether I can make out of it the sort of book I like to read. A book that grips the reader emotionally. A book that tries the characters with situations where there are no easy answers. A book that makes the reader ask themselves what they would do in that situation and not know for certain.
Book one was a story of atonement, of a character finding his way back to a place in the community. Book two was about Raven finding his footing in this new place, only to have it threatened.
Q 3: What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was a re-read of The Likeness by Tana French. I recommend her, whether or not you like police procedurals. Personally, they are not my favourite genre, but Ms. French writes such brilliant prose, with incredible attention to detail and character development, as well as the clever plotting for which the genre is known, that I have devoured each and every one of her books.
Q4: Who are your three favourite authors? (Sorry Shawna!)
Three favourite authors? How can you make me pick only three?
It changes from year-to-year. I tend to go on binges. But here is my answer as of today. Before I get into my ‘real’ picks, Tolkien deserves an honourable mention, because his books were my gateway drug into speculative fiction. I still deeply admire the man and his work, and especially his use of archetypes, but if I had to pick three current everyday favourites, I would have to choose:
1) Charles de Lint. I discovered him 25 years ago, maybe more, with Riddle of the Wren. I adore his meld of realism and fairytale, his sense of the good in the world shining through all the bad, his gorgeous prose. . .I could go on forever. I have almost all of his books, and they are dog-eared from many re-reads. Incidentally, I took a workshop with the man once, and he is as brilliant a teacher as he is a writer, and is also a genuinely nice person.
2) Laurie R. King. A friend of mine turned me on to her Holmes/Russell books, and I have come to worship the very keyboard Ms. King types on. Her characterization is masterful and her prose is poetic. And she just keeps getting better and better. God of the Hive was so well-written I wanted to cry in despair of ever reaching that level of craft.
3) Robin McKinley. I loved her YA books when I was, in fact, a young adult, and am fond of them still. I love her subtle humour and her strong female characters. Her adult contemporary fantasy Sunshine is perhaps the best underrated vampire book out there, and helped me find my way to my own treatment of alternate-universe urban fantasy.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Shawna-Reppert/e/B00957U8KG
on Twitter: @ShawnaReppert
on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/shawna.reppert
Buy link for Raven’s Wing: http://www.amazon.com/Ravens-Wing-Ravensblood-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00SFB77JS/
Buy link for Ravensblood: http://www.amazon.com/Ravensblood-Shawna-Reppert-ebook/dp/B00G93U4F8/
Thank you to Shawna for stopping by!