I’m pleased to welcome M. K. Yarbrough, author of the Young Adult paranormal Shadow trilogy as my guest today.
Tell us about Shadow Keeper.
Shadow Keeper is the first book in my Shadow trilogy. I’m having a promotional ebook giveaway this Saturday at Amazon. Shadow Keeper is free all day on Oct. 27th.
Brendon Alexander was a normal high school kid until his dead grandfather appeared in the flames of a fire and bestowed upon him the gift of Demon Fighter.
Lisa Stratton, the new girl at school, has a few secrets of her own—her father is possessed by a demon. She recognizes the scar on Brendon’s chest that brands him as a protected one, but she must discover if he has the ability to cleanse the evil from her father’s body.
The closer Brendon gets to Lisa, the more he uncovers buried secrets from the past. Not hers, but his—his father’s death and the creature that killed him, and the legacy handed down to him from beyond the grave. Burning curiosity and frightening nightmares thrust Brendon deeper into his past while Lisa urges him forward into danger—and into his destiny.
Tell us a little about your current release.
Shadow Warrior was released in August. This novel is the third and final in my Shadow Trilogy. I didn’t want the three novels to be a “cut and paste” of each other, so I strived hard to make each book a stand-alone novel in case anyone read them out of order. But it would be best to read them in sequence. In the first book, Brendon and Lisa face difficult and frightening obstacles while their love for each other is at the innocent stage. In the second book, their love for each other grows stronger, and the obstacles they face are larger and more frightening. The final novel thrusts them into a terrifying battle between good and evil. Only their love for each other, which endures even into death, will save the other from destruction.
What inspired this story?
One evening when I was babysitting the grandkids, lightning hit a transformer and the lights went out. How could I entertain two young kids with no electricity, no TV, and no Wii? The answer was simple; I lit a couple candles and we told ghost stories—age appropriate of course. My grandson started his story with lightning flashing and thunder crashing overhead. A boy runs to the window, opens the curtains, and looks out into the night. What does he see lurking in the darkness? I don’t know because the lights came back on and the kids wanted to watch Clifford. That night while lying in bed, my mind whirled with the possibilities of what the boy in the story might’ve seen out the window. That’s how Shadow Keeper was conceived.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
My current work in progress is Track of the Beast. Hopefully, it will be published around Christmas time, or in January. It’s about Carson who was Brendon’s buddy and wingman in Shadow Keeper. I really loved him. He was so laid back and easy going. A couple people even commented in their reviews of my book about how much they liked Carson. His story begins after graduating from high school. He’s hot on the trail of the wild animal killing his cattle. The strange tracks of the creature he hunts leads him to a small ranch secluded deep in the Capay hills. The owner of the ranch is a young woman called wolf girl by the kids in high school. Rumor has it that when the moon is full, her brother turns into a werewolf. Carson doesn’t believe in gossip, or fairytales, so he stakes out his herd one night and waits. The full moon rises, and the long pitiful howl of a wolf echoes through the night. Near a clump of trees, he spots the form of a man emerge from the shadows and step into the moonlight. Carson can’t believe his eyes. Is it just his imagination going wild, or is the man’s body contorting into something beastly?
What are your writing goals for this year?
This year is pretty much over. What I have planned next year, considering we all manage to survive the end of the Mayan calendar, is another trilogy. Brendon’s little brother Stephen inherits a similar gift from their dead father and grandfather. His destiny will be to hunt the creatures of the night. Brendon was a good kid, excellent student, and star football player. Steve is the opposite. Raised without a father, his older brother takes off for college, so he has no male role model when he hits puberty. He’s the bad boy, skipping school, and getting into trouble. A snipe hunt at midnight with some friends brings him face-to-face with a hideous night creature he must fight.
How do you come up with ideas?
Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, a short little snippet—something like a scene or a blurb straight out of Youtube—flashes in my brain. I dig deeper and flesh it out with questions. Who, why, where?
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
Once I have an idea for a novel in my brain, I start writing the first chapter. That’s where my characters develop his or her personality. When the characters come to life, they take over the writing. They go in directions I never would’ve dreamed of going.
What did you learn from writing your first book or what do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
“Write what you know.” That’s one of the first things I learned. Writing is hard enough without trying to write something I don’t have a clue about. For instance, I could never write Jaws. I don’t swim in the ocean, and I don’t know anything about boats, or sharks. More importantly, I don’t want to learn about sharks—not up close and personal anyway. I enjoy doing research about things that interest me. I love the supernatural, and I’m fascinated with the old west. I grew up in a little town in northern California. It was easy for me to write Historical Romance set in early California. I’ve been immersed in history since childhood. I lived about twenty miles from Fort Sutter and another twenty miles from Sutter’s mill where the first nugget of gold was discovered in the Coloma River. My Shadow books and Carson’s story are written in modern times, but those novels take place in the rural area of the Capay Valley in northern California where we lived and my kids went to school. I strive for authenticity and accuracy. I want to put the reader in the middle of the action and make them believe that what’s happening is real.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
There’s not an awful lot to enjoy about writing. I have to sit alone all day in my computer room, staring at a blank screen while trying to think what to write. Then there’s the proofing. I can read the same paragraph a dozen times and never notice a blaring typo. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I endure this torture every day? I guess the enjoyment comes after I’ve completed a couple pages or a scene that I’ve agonized over for several days. I change the action around, move the sentences, switch out the words from my thesaurus, and there it is—that’s exactly what I wanted. I print it out, read it over, and I say out loud, “Fantastic! I can’t believe I wrote this myself?”
Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
I love all my characters—heroines and heroes, at least. I like them to be strong, but not infallible. No superpowers here. They are ordinary men and women rising to overcome extraordinary circumstances. Even my heroines have backbones. They are not damsels in distress, although they do get themselves into trouble and sometimes need a man’s help. But they don’t cringe in the corner while the man fights the battles for them. The women stand beside their men and help overcome any obstacles or evil.
What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
In Shadow Keeper, Brendon has a horrible nightmare. His little brother Stevie, who shares the bedroom, wakes Brendon from the scary dream by slapping him. The next morning, Stevie has to wake Brendon up for school, so he smacks him across the face again. When Brendon jumps out of bed mad, Stevie runs from the room, screaming for his mother to protect him. I love sibling dynamics.
Excerpt from Shadow Keeper:
The door opened and Lisa stepped into the room. A slight breeze ruffled the long blonde hair hanging over her shoulders. The shimmering white nightgown she wore clung to her body, revealing soft curves. Her slender arm extended and her fingers beckoned for me.
I threw back the sheet and reached for her. The tips of my fingers brushed against hers. I propped my body up on one elbow and tried again. Her fingertips curled around mine.
Darkness formed behind her. “No,” I shouted when the demon materialized and wrapped its scabby arms around her body. I tried to crawl from the bed to rescue her, but my legs were tangled in the sheet. “Lisa!” I closed my eyes, not wanting to see her face when the creature ripped her from my grasp.
My eyelids flew open when its hot, putrid breath stung my face. The demon crouched down and leapt onto my chest. I clenched my hands around its throat. My thumbs pressed into its windpipe. I would put an end to this. Tonight would be the last night that filthy creature would ever take her from me.
I squeezed as hard as I could. My fingers cramped. My biceps ached. Just as I was about to force all life from the demon, he vanished into a puff of smoke.
I awoke, my heart hammering and my body drenched in sweat. I kicked the sheet loose from my feet and staggered from the bed. My legs wobbled. I bumped into the dresser on my way out of the room. When I reached the bathroom, I splashed cold water on my face. I grabbed a hand towel and wiped away the moisture. As I straightened from the sink, I glanced into the mirror.
Instead of my pale, blood–drained face, a tanned one stared back. The man resembled me, but not exactly. His bare chest didn’t carry the red mark, but his reflection had the same dark hair, only longer. Thick, dark, and straight, the strands were pushed back from his face and hung down his neck. Laugh lines creased the skin around his eyes—brown eyes without a hint of green.
I pressed my hand against the mirror. “Dad.”
“Yes, son.” His hand touched mine.
“I’m so glad you’re here.”
“I’ll always be with you.”
“I know.” I bowed my head as my anguish grew. “These nightmares won’t end. Night after night a vicious demon attacks me. Or worse, he rips Lisa from my arms and drags her away. I don’t know how much more I can take.”
“I feel your pain, but the dreams will fade.”
I glanced up. “How long will I have to wait?”
“I can’t give you an answer, but it’ll end when one of you wins.”
“What do you mean?”
“Either the demon succeeds in driving you away so you’re no longer a threat, or you win by sending him back to Hell.”
I studied my father’s face in the mirror. He waited for my reply. “I want that filthy demon back in Hell.”
I’ve always had these scenes, fantasies, I guess, pop into my head. I used to think there was something wrong with me until I realized other people have little movies going on behind their eyelids also. One day I decided to take a fantasy out of my head and put it down on paper. That’s when I became a writer. These crazy fantasies of mine have turned into several novels. Two of them were published last year by The Wild Rose Press. Payton’s Woman and Once Upon a Love are both historical romance. While waiting for them to be released, I switched my writing style to young adult, paranormal. The result was Shadow Keeper, Shadow Curse, and Shadow Warrior, which have all been released in the last year. I write the paranormal, young adult under M. K. Yarbrough, and the historical romance novels using my name Marilyn Yarbrough, so there will be a distinction in the genres.
Shadow Keeper on Amazon.com http://amzn.com/B0050K7PD0