Inkpop.com has presented lots of opportunities for me, and the latest one has been to interview the author of “Defenders of the Scroll” for my school newspaper. Shiraz was cool enough to send me an awesome autographed copy straight from Canada, which is where he currently resides.
Below is my article, which will soon go live, but has not yet. So you all get a sneek peek at it.
There is a place where you should fear the shadows
A Roman legionnaire, a Japanese samurai, an African warrior, an Amazon archer, a Shaolin monk, and a high school student named Alex. What do they have in common? All of them are teenagers, and all of them are summoned by young princess Dara to defend a magical scroll and defeat evil.
Sure, it may sound like a cheap mock-off of Lord of the Rings or Eragon, but within the first two chapters, the magical spell begins to set in. A unique adventure, woven together by Canadian author Shiraz from a cartoon concept, Defenders of the Scroll is a fast-paced book, full of action and suprises.
It all starts when Dara’s father, King Mornak, is imprisioned by the very evil that he subdued years ago. He leaves the only thing that can save him and the kingdom – the Scroll, in the hands of his only daughter, Dara.
Dara accidently summons guitar-playing, high school student Alex, who in turn manages to summon five other teens from around the globe, and around history.
As they search for the mysterious Hall of Shadows, they fight off Shadow warriors, sink pirate ships, and more importantly, try to get along.
It’s the ultimate gamer’s fantasy, but what truly makes it worthwhile is what happens when the characters aren’t fighting. Love and rivalry spark intense moments and spur them to do things they never would have thought possible – all within a strange fantasy world where friends and enemies are indistinguishable.
Amanda: If you could encompass Defenders of the Scroll in one sentence, what would it be?
Shiraz: Six teens from different times and places band together to protect a little girl and her magic scroll, the only hope for a darkened realm.
Amanda: How about one word?
Amanda: What was your original inspiration for the idea where DotS originated from?
Shiraz: The main characters (The Hall, The Shadow Lord, Askar, Specter, Mornak, and The Defenders, except for Tenzin) were actually conceived by Rupinder Malhotra and Singh Khanna who came up with the original concept for DotS, which they want to make into a children’s cartoon. I wrote the series bible for them, so I got to know the characters very well. They later asked me to write the novel and I created everyone else as the story unfolded, but I had no clue about any of them until they appeared on the page. I’ve never had one of my stories so completely write itself.
Amanda: Could you name 5 already-published books that DotS is “like”?
Shiraz: Narnia, Inkspell, Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter.
Amanda: DotS has been receiving a lot of awards since published. What ran through your mind when you first received an award?
The first award I received was from the second contest I entered it in. So, after not even getting honourable mention in the first contest, I was really doubting my skills as a writer, and thinking my friends just told me my book was good because they were my friends. Once the awards started rolling in, I breathed a big sigh of relief.
Amanda: What made you decide to self-publish?
Shiraz: After getting “no”s from several agents and publishers, I decided to try it out. Self-publishing is a growing industry and I wanted to try it out. It also gave me more control over the design of the book. The text on printed version looked like it’s printed on a scroll.
Amanda: Would you do it again?
Shiraz: At this point, no. The sales haven’t been what I’d hoped and there’s a lot of time and money involved in marketing a book. The experience made me appreciate what publishers do for you and why your cut ends up being so small.
Amanda: How old were you when you started writing?
Shiraz: Hazy area. Sometime after I was eight. Hazy because for a while I didn’t realize I could write for myself and would anxiously wait a creative writing assignment so I could let my imagination loose on paper. Hey, I was young.
Amanda: If you could meet three authors (living or dead), who would they be?
Shiraz: Shakespeare, Stephen King, Terry Brooks. They were the authors I read the most from in high school. Although I hated Shakespeare at the time, I’ve come to appreciate his skills, and I have lots of questions and thank yous for all of them.
Amanda: Other then being an author, what is your real job?
Shiraz: I’m a software designer/developer. I make business applications and I’ve designed and developed some games for museums, exhibitions, and similar venues.
I also put out a little iPhone app called Drop Zone Elite.
Amanda: What were your favorite subjects in school?
Shiraz: Math, Science, and Computers. I hated English except when we had creative writing assignments.
Amanda: Any other writing projects you’re working on?
Shiraz: I’m writing a new novel called Álfar, which can be read at inkpop.com. I’m about half done and I post chapters as I finish them.
Amanda: What would you say to teens who want to write, or want to publish a book they’ve written?
Shiraz: Keep writing and acknowledge criticism. I know it sucks when people don’t like your stuff, but if several people complain about the same things in your story then it’s probably something you should address. You’re always going to be learning and improving your craft. The day you think you’ve got it and know just what to do without criticism is probably when your writing starts to go stale.
Defenders of the Scroll Awards:
- Honorable Mention in the Teenage category of the 2009 Hollywood Book Festival
- Honorable Mention in the Science Fiction and Teenage categories of the 2009 Beach Book Festival
- Honorable Mention in the Science Fiction category of the 2009 New York Book Festival
- Finalist in the Multicultural Fiction and Best Overall Design Fiction categories of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
- Winner in the Fantasy and Best Editing Fiction categories, and Finalist in the Action-Adventure and Young Adult Fiction categories of the 2009 Indie Excellence Awards
- Honorable Mention in the Wild Card category of the 2009 San Francisco Book Festival
- Former Inkpop.com Top Five book.