Jim Shaw is the author of The Secrets of the Damned series and has a new book in the works of a different series. We met through JJ Carrier’s FB page – New Brunswick Independent Author’s Association. Jim is an active member of the group and we are fortunate to have him as our guest this week.
He has agreed to a 4Q Interview and is sharing as Excerpt from A Father’s Legacy.
I have been penning my lies for over thirty years now. I live in Woodstock, New Brunswick, which is in Atlantic Canada. My first series is Secrets of the Damned, and it is based exclusively in small town New Brunswick. My second series, The Legends of the Seventh One, is set somewhere else, in a galaxy torn by war. I have a passion of the written word that I inherited from my Mother, combined with the keen imagination I inherited from my Dad. My books have been sold as far away as Europe and even in Iraq.
4Q: Lets talk about The Secrets of the Damned. Vampires and other scary things. Tell us briefly about the series.
JS: Secrets of the Damned is very near and dear to my heart. It is my first series that will eventually consist of three novels and one spin off. Here is a fun little jimfact, SOTD started out as a creative writing project. While attending NBCC Woodstock in 1987, in English class, we were asked to write a story, any story we wanted, so long as it met all the stipulations in the guidelines. So, we got the assignment on a Friday, and I went home and wrote it over the weekend. The actual story I wrote was the intro to the second Secrets of the Damned novel, Forbidden Dreams.
It was about a couple boys out late at night investigating a notorious haunted house. In this ‘story’ the mansion was as much a character as the two boys creeping around in the shadows as they explore the old house. It was about twenty pages and I thought that was the end of it. So, on the following Friday, we all were instructed to pass our stories around for everyone else in class to read. We were all to write our thoughts and comments on the bottom of the stories. The most consistent comments I was getting was in the form of questions asking me where the rest of the story was. I thought that was odd because I really thought what I had written was complete. But I obliged my classmates and started writing a chapter a week. Of course, the story has changed and mutated several times from those early drafts, to the finished story that you can get today either on Kindle, Audible, or hardcopy on Amazon. The stories I had envisioned were three in number, each about a vampire, the damned, each having a secret they protected at all cost. Around that kernel I wrapped the human stories. They are very much stories written inside larger stories, kind of like a smile hidden inside a frown. Eclipse fans beware my vampires do not sparkle, and they do not fall in love with their food. If you do buy them, you are in for a fun roller coaster of a ride, and you never quite know what will happen next. Promise.
4Q: What draws you to this genre of writing and reading?
JS: Who doesn’t like a good scare every now and again? I sure do, yet there is one thing common to all the genres I write in, which is freedom. The over the top genres, like Thrillers, Sci-Fi and Fantasy offer the writer a wide latitude to explore the big questions we as humans often must face over the course of our lifetimes. Now, do not misunderstand me, I am not trying to sound smug. I am not offering the readers of my books any profound knowledge that will lead you to nirvana. Nothing that grand, the ‘big’ questions I explore are questions I sometimes have wrestled with or more to the point questions my characters are struggling with and need my help to explore them more fully and completely. For example, in, A Father’s Legacy, first book in the new series, one of the main characters Marcus, struggles with who he feels he is and who everyone expects him to be. All his life he has been told of the great deeds he will accomplish, and ultimately how he alone will save the galaxy. Yet in his heart of hearts he does not feel worthy or capable of any of it. We the readers get to follow along as he navigates his world in search of who he really is.
4Q: Every new guest on the Scribbler gets asked this question. Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.
JS: Well the first thing that comes to mind, is kind of a circle. When Star Wars, Empire and Jedi first came to the big screen, my sister took me to all of them. Then when Mr. Lucas brought those movies back to the big screen as ‘special editions’ I took her children to them. It is kind of the Sci-Fi circle of life so to speak.
4Q: Your first book in your new Legends of the Seven Sons series is on the shelves now. Titled A Father’s Legacy. What can we expect when we pick up a copy?
JS: Well this new series is a departure from the Secrets of the Damned, and I have pivoted from writing Thrillers to Sci-Fi. They both still have a healthy does of Fantasy mixed into them, guess it would not be me if they did not. It is defiantly a series, and by that, I mean it has always been one huge expansive story meant to be told over the span of several novels. It really is just too big to be told any other way. In this series I wrestled with some big themes, like the Manifestations of prophecy, and belief, both in ourselves and in others. What exactly fuels that belief? Proof for most of us is subjective at best, don’t you think? All this is set against a galaxy shattered by a decade’s long war and the politics that drives the beast of human conflict. What if you had been told all the days of your life that you were destined to be the savior of the galaxy and the older you got the more you doubted everyone around you. You doubt yourself even. Marcus, the main character is struggling with this very thing. His story alone could not be contained in three hundred pages, not even four hundred I suspect. But rest assured over the course of the series we do eventually get to the bottom of it. We also get to the bottom of Haughn and Princess Aurora’s love story. We also see how Dane Torrek puts his own plans in motion.
This first novel is exactly as it says, ‘an introduction’, a rock thrown into a pond. The story rides on the ripples. I intended it to be your introduction to this galaxy, present to you the background of the story, and introduce you to some of the main characters complete with what drives them to do the things they do. Money, love, power, revenge, not everyone wants to be a hero, or do the right thing even. By the time you reach the end of ‘A Father’s Legacy’, you should have a fairly good idea what makes them tick as people trying to move and exist in their worlds. Each one of them rides the ripples in a different way, each hoping for different results. The cliff hanger ending was entirely done on purpose, as was front loading the novel.
In the second novel, ‘The Stone Empress’, our characters, by now your friends, will be questing for the secrets they found under the statue of Bichon DaVue. The war will intensify, and the young Emperor will assume his thrown and begin his own quest to find and kill the man he believes killed his father. Marcus will continue to struggle with his identity and reluctantly agrees to take his sister Princess Aurora under his wing, and the marriage is put off by circumstances out of Haughn’s control.
4Q: We see that, like many other authors, you are offering A Father’s Legacy, as an audiobook as well. Tell us about this experience.
JS: All my work has been turned into audible books. I can think of no other way that I would want my work showcased. I have a profound and deep love for the written word spoken aloud. This I think goes back to my grade nine English teacher, Mrs. Thomas. She would read to us, the whole class, for hours. I loved every minute of it! So, all you guys and dolls who love my audio books, you can blame her, 😊as far as my own work in audio format, the experience has been nothing short of wonderful! To hear the words, you have written come to life has got to be one of the best drugs ever. I would recommend this to all my author buddies, and have to many of them, lol. Seriously the experience will be dependent on the voice acter or actress you work with and I have been lucky enough to have worked with two incredibly talented voice actresses in the past couple of years. Nora Agha is the voice of the Secrets of the Damned series. Let me tell you she is dynamite! Those of you who have had the pleasure to listen to her work know exactly what I mean when I say, WOW. She literally left me thunderstruck from the first chapter till the last one. It is my greatest hope that when the third Secrets of the Damned is completed, she will be available to bring it to life. Kiera Bowie is the voice for the Legends of the Seventh Son series, and we have recently completed the first novel, A Father’s Legacy, in audio format and like the Secrets of the Damned, it will also be available on Audible.com. If you ask me if lighting can strike a person more than once, I will have to say YES. This gal has managed to bring my most imaginative series to life, in such a spectacular way, that I find myself wanting to write more so I can hear more. There is a criterion for how I want to hear my work, simply put I want an actress who is expressive, and all I can say is I have gotten that in spades! Kiera Bowie is not only an exceptionally talented voice actress, but she also is a more conventional actress as well and is full of passion for everything she does, as a result, she is a very busy girl, and I was most fortunate to have gotten her at all.(Should have bought a lotto ticket that day)
4Q: In your opinion, what makes a story great?
JS: For me, a great story is one that ensnares the reader and holds him or her captive rendering them as helpless as a fly in a spider’s web, until that last page has been turned and the last word read.
4Q: Favorite authors and/or novels?
JS: Funny jimfact, growing up I was never one for reading novels. My nose was always stuck in a history text, reading about the rise and fall of the many great empires of antiquity. It is how my imagination developed. As a kid, reading history texts and my Lego sets kept me busy reliving the far away battles I experienced on the pages of those dusty old books. It was not till later in my life, say my mid-twenties that I decided to read novels, and the first series I tackled was the Dune series, written by Frank Herbert. This is my favorite; I am so amazed that this man Frank Herbert created such a complete universe all by himself.
A lot of contemporary Sci-Fi is the result of a team of writers combining their imaginations to create the different plot lines, characters, and the worlds they live in. Others who I admire, and love are Stephen King, the sheer volume this man has penned is incredible on its own, add to that his stories are of the highest quality and the stories are fantastic. When folks say he is a master, they are not exaggerating. Peter Benchley would round out my top three. Seriously who doesn’t love Jaws? This one novel had a lasting effect on how millions of folks all over the world view our oceans. But just like the other two on my list Mr. Benchley wasn’t a one hit wonder. His novels Beast and White Shark proved that he was the king of the deep blue sea.
4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
JS: This maybe the hardest question of them all. Only that I am grateful for the opportunity to get to share this fantastic space with you and all your wonderful readers. Thank you it means a great deal to me.
*** The Scribbler is most happy to have you on board Jim.
An Excerpt from A Father’s Legacy.
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with Permission)
He drew his star sword and hit the door release, and as confidently as he could he crossed the threshold and entered the battle station’s throne room. It was quite possibly the largest room he had ever seen, and although he had never been there before, it was strangely familiar to him. It was exactly like the sacred courtyard on Therorie, complete with the cherry trees and the many fountains that lined its gardens. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t see to the other side or detect any walls of any kind.
The gravel crunched under foot as he marched deeper into the huge room. In the distance he saw the slender figure of a woman, dressed in flowing robes of pale blue and shimmering white, star sword in hand confidently beckoning to him.
In a sweet voice he heard her say, “Lord Admiral we have a guest.”
His father the Lord Admiral Vendredii stepped out from amongst the cherry trees lining the courtyard.
The Empress regarded him for a moment, studying him as he walked towards them. “A musketeer no less, look Admiral, I haven’t seen that insignia in a very long time,” she said.
Marcus had stopped after only advancing halfway across the courtyard. He stood there motionless, studying every detail of his father. He had never been this close to the man.
The Empress raised her sword and pointed at him. “Your Master should have taught you that it is rude to enter a room with your star sword drawn, unless you intend to use it.”
He made no reply; instead, he held his star sword high above his head with a strong two-handed grip.
Her fierce eyes burned into him. “Should I take your stance as reply?”
In his mind he was running through every conceivable attack she could launch at him, and the appropriate counter he would use in reply.
“Lord Admiral Vendredii,” she said, momentarily looking at his father.
The man stood to attention and bowed his head. “Yes, your majesty.”
“I will dispatch with this pup in five moves or less,” she predicted. She returned her cruel attention back onto Marcus. Her fierce eyes had darkened to almost black.
Marcus inched closer to the Empress, his muscles tense like tightly wound springs waiting to be sprung into action. In his mind he could hear Master Durh’s voice telling him this was the all-important battle before the battle, the time when victory or defeat is decided.
Empress Bichon DaVue took a bold step forward, smiling at her challenger. “Do you like my throne room young pup?” She raised her free hand and gestured indicating their surroundings.
Marcus looked around the room but remained silent.
She smiled reading his expression. “Yes, it not only looks familiar to you, it is exactly like the courtyard where you train on Theorie.”
He knew exactly what she was trying to do, and it was not going to work. He would not allow himself to become distracted. He was aware that as she spoke, she was slowly closing to within striking distance. He took a step backward, smiled at her, then looked at his father. “This courtyard is sacred to our order and kept secret to outsiders for a reason.”
“Do not blame the Lord Admiral for revealing its location to me. I too, trained under the great Master Zenn Durh. I was his greatest pupil, and I warned him, about training anyone else. I told him what the consequences of those actions would be, and yet, here you are.” She looked at the Lord Admiral, “This pup should be dead along with the other two.”
Marcus squeezed the hilt of his star sword. “I should be what? What other two?”
“You don’t know do you pup?”
“Three days ago, I dispatched three squads of my most lethal Vashek assassins to your secret planet. By now you are the last of the Musketeers.”
Marcus laughed. “It is doubtful that any of us in this room could best either one of those men in one on one combat, let alone mere soldiers of the secret police.”
“One on one combat,” the Empress shook her head. “Only a fool would challenge Master Durh or Steller Falswell to a dual. I assure you pup, these men, these mere soldiers as you call them are not fools, and your mentors are dead, as dead as you will be shortly.”
Marcus shook his head. He was about to disagree with her when shiver shot up his spine and then another and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. His stomach churned and his head began to swim. It was true, what she said was true and he could feel it.
The Empress sensed the imbalance growing inside him, sensed her chance to strike. She sprang into action launching a blistery attack, swinging her sword horizontally at his throat, as she did her dress twirled and snapped behind her.
Surprised as much as startled by her speed, Marcus jumped backward, her blade narrowly missed him. He landed awkwardly and stumbled to one knee. Seeing this, the Empress pressed her attack, whipping her sword again hard at his chest.
He tried to counter, but it was already too late. He felt the Empress’ blade cut cleanly through his tunic and bite hard into his chest. Fire shot through him when the star sword scraped across his ribs as she brought her blade down to the floor. The insignia he had proudly worn fell to the rocks with a tang. All the strength went from his legs and he fell, landing flat on his back next to gold and silver pin.
Ignoring the pain as best he could, he scrambled to his feet and whirled around slashing at her with his sword. He hoped it would back her off and give him enough time to recover his wits and reset his stance.
She merely regarded him with the briefest of smiles, then lunged at him again, her blood-stained blade held aloft. She brought her star sword down onto him at the exact same time she landed, feet flat, knees bent in a strong stance, adding more power to her cutting stroke.
He countered her attack and deflected her blade off to the side. It hit the ground hard, clanging into the rocks, causing sparks to fly in all directions.
He looked at her blade, remembering Master Durh’s words, “It would take some doing to break a star sword.”
The Empress quickly stepped back and brought her sword up and in one fluid motion she hooked his blade in her guard, wrenched it from his hand and flipped it into the air. Before his sword could hit the ground, she repositioned herself by stepping forward and then swung, hitting his star sword mid blade, neatly cutting it in half, sending both halves bouncing in opposite directions.
Shock and surprise shot through Marcus’ mind. My sword, it is broken! He could not believe it. Once more his master’s words echoed throughout his mind. Consumed by the sight of his broken blade, he ignored the Empress and the threat she represented. He reached for what was left of the sword. He almost had it before she kicked him hard between his shoulder blades. Her kick knocked the wind out of him, sending him face first into the rocks.
Gasping for air, he rolled over to see the cruel faced Empress standing over him. She smiled. “Four moves, five if we count the killing blow,” she said triumphantly. She wiped the blood off her sword and took a step toward the fallen musketeer.
“No majesty, he is my son.”
“Your son, I think would have more teeth. This pup; is a waste of your seed.”
Vendredii took a step closer. “You can’t kill him; he is the Promised One.”
“Keep your place, Lord Admiral!”
The cruel faced Empress looked down at her vanquished opponent. “You can’t be the Promised One. You fell far too easily to be the savior of the galaxy.”
She held her sword high above her head. “Now I ask you, pup. Who will save you? Who will save the savior of the galaxy?”
Marcus closed his eyes; he braced himself for the end and hoped it would be swift and painless.
“I will,” the Lord Admiral said, stepping forward he brought his sword up to block his Empress’ blade.
Thank you, Jim, for being our featured guest this week. All the best with your new series and your writing journey.
For you readers wanting more information on James A Shaw and his novels, please follow these links:
(Legends of the Seventh Son: A Father's Legacy) https://www.amazon.ca/Legends-Seventh-Son-Fathers-Legacy/dp/1701696444/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=a+father%27s+legacy+by+jim+a+shaw&qid=1595894854&sr=8-1
(The Kirk: Book One in "The Secrets Of The Damned" Series) https://www.amazon.ca/Kirk-Book-One-Secrets-Damned/dp/1986454649/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=secrets+of+the+damned+by+jim+shaw&qid=1595895282&sr=8-1
(Forbidden Dreams: Book Two of "Secrets Of The Damned") https://www.amazon.ca/Forbidden-Dreams-Book-Secrets-Damned/dp/1986458733/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=secrets+of+the+damned+by+jim+shaw&qid=1595895391&sr=8-2