I'd like to welcome Shea Berkley to The Happy Booker to talk about her new novel The Marked Son. Shea, can you briefly describe The Marked Son and the role Dylan Kennedy plays in it?
Hey Donna! Thank you for allowing me to sneak over to your blog and chat about Dylan! I’m busy writing the third book in the series so my playtime is limited, but I’m glad you invited me over. I needed the break.
So, you want to know about Dylan? I love talking about him. The Marked Son is a story about seventeen-year-old Dylan and how his life changes drastically one summer. Dylan comes from a dysfunctional family and is abandoned by his mother on his grandparents sheep ranch out in the wilds of Oregon… and he’s never even met his grandparents before. Mean, huh?
Needless to say, he isn’t pleased, and he’s confused, because there’s this girl who suddenly appears and tells him he’s special in a way no one in real life is special. His father, someone else he’s never met, is the ruler of the kingdom of Teag within a parallel realm. If that’s not weird enough, she also tells him he has magical abilities and that he belongs in Teag. When he follows this amazingly beautiful girl to Teag, he doesn’t find a fairytale kingdom and a privileged life waiting for him, but a land ripped apart by hate and violence so horrible it threatens his life and those of everyone he’s come to care about. Yep, it’s up to him to right the wrongs, save the girl and accept a life he never thought was possible.
If you could go back and change anything about this story, would you?
Umm, I’m a writer. I always find mistakes or ways to make my stories better, which is a good thing because that means I’m still growing as a writer and finding new ways to communicate what I want the readers to know. It’s a bad thing because I can rarely go back and enjoy the story I’ve created. I always find places where I would change something.
Characters have a way of becoming their own person outside of what the author may have first envisioned. How has Dylan changed or evolved as a character since you began writing The Marked Son?
From the first page, you find out Dylan is a smart-mouthed, unhappy kid. He’s got serious issues that he refuses to acknowledge or that he’s given up on. By the end of the series, Dylan still has that edge to him, but it’s matured into a focus outside himself, which is something we all need to do, look outward at how we can contribute to make our world better, in order to find true happiness.
Are there any characters other than Dylan that particularly stand out to you in this story and why?
I love all my characters, even the naughty ones. (ahem, I can totally relate to them) They all bring a specific element to the story that is needed to enhance/flesh out Dylan’s journey. From Grandma and Grandpa, who are the only people in Dylan’s life who care if he lives or dies, to Lucinda, whose only thought is how she’s going to cause more chaos and not care who suffers because of it, I deeply love them all. They are real to me in a way that they are a reflection of a type of person we all either want to become or who we are afraid we’ll be.
Which character/scene was the most challenging to write and why?
The ending. The Marked Son is the first book in a series, and in order to have a reader want to buy the next book, you need to give them a reason, but you also need to tie up the story arc of that book so that it leaves the reader satisfied that the story is complete. Reader satisfaction is huge. I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader, and I don’t like to be toyed with, so ending that particular story on a note that says the characters were successful at playing their parts, even though the bigger story arc isn’t over, is a big deal to me.
Should readers expect any romance in The Marked Son?
At it’s core, The Marked Son is a Romeo and Juliet story, although unlike Romeo and Juliet, Dylan and Kera have known each other their whole lives even though, up until that point, they’ve lived in different realms and see each other only in their dreams. They’ve loved each other forever, but because he’s lived without magic in the human realm, he’s suppressed his dreams of her, not remembering them the next morning. When he first sees her, he doesn’t even realize it’s the same girl he’s dreamt about since he was young, at least not until Kera unlocks the magic that is in him. Then it’s like, BAM! (magic’s like that, you know—I swear!) All those memories come flooding back and he realizes Kera is the only person who’s ever truly been there for him and loves him unconditionally, and he loves her. Always has. Always will. It’s at that point the whole Romeo and Juliet part of the story takes off and causes the pair a whole load of heartache and trouble.
Did you learn anything about yourself while writing this book?
That I have psychological problems? (sigh) Most writers feel that way because we’re writing about pretend people in unusual circumstances and we have to believe they’re real in order to create a book others would want to read. So yeah, that whole imaginary friend syndrome is a daily thing for me.
What would you say is one of your writing "quirks" or habits?
I’m a teeny weeny bit of a perfectionist. Not crazy perfect, just enough to drive me crazy usually. I write a scene and go over it alike a bajillion times before I move on to the next scene. The great thing about that is when I finish a book, there isn’t much revision needed. The bad part is that it feels like it takes me forever to write a book. (Who am I kidding? It does.) I’m not a fast writer, and I envy those who can spit out their words and move on with a great deal of success.
Which books or genre of books began your love of reading and inspired you to write?
If you go on my website, you can read about how I got into reading and eventually into writing. Let’s just say, it did not come naturally to me back then. I have a learning disability called dyslexia, and it’s hilarious that I’m a writer. (God loves irony) But I’ve always loved a challenge, so I kept at this writing gig (I’m a tenacious little cuss), and hopefully I’m pretty good at it. But back to the first part of your question, I was sixteen and my mom tossed me a romance novel in hopes I’d like it. I did… apparently a lot. But it wasn’t an overnight thing. It took me years upon years to get to the point where I even thought I could write.
If you had to wake up in a world created by another author, which book/author/world would you choose?
What a great question!! Cruel too. I have a lot of “favorite” books. I love the Harry Potter series, but I’d probably be one of the more fumbling witches that everyone rolls their eyes at when she comes to visit because I’d never get any spells quite right.
I love all of Jane Austen’s books, but I’d probably be one of those girls who dies of consumption in the back room of a ratty inn because I fell in love with the roguish lord who left me and our gorgeous baby for a plain yet titled girl with a big dowry and bigger boobs.
Or how about the Hunger Games trilogy? I’d love to fight alongside Katniss, but then only one of us could survive the games, and since she’s the heroine, I’d die in some horrible way that would find me morphed into a disgusting dog-girl that attacks anyone for a tartar controlling dog treat.
So yeah, this is a tough question with no real happy ending for me, but the journey would rock!
Thank you so much Shea for making The Happy Booker one of your stops on your blog tour. Is there anything else you would like readers to know about Dylan Kennedy and The Marked Son?
There’s no mistaking it, The Marked Son is a fantasy book. I get fan mail from both guys and girls, so if I’m to believe my fans, it’s one of those books everyone finds something to like about it. The story is filled with crazy creatures and a lot of suspense. If that sounds like something you’d like, The Marked Son just might be the book for you. Try it, you just might like it. (grin)
If anyone has a burning desire to talk to me, you can find me at:
You can enter to win a copy of The Marked Son on Shea’s Facebook page for the Keepers of Life series
What other's are saying about The Marked Son:
“It’s like I took off on the most fantastic paranormal fantasy adventure ride, and still haven't touched ground.” ~Debbie at I heart YA Books
“I pretty much liked everything about this book.” ~Savannah Books With Bite
“Dylan, who doesn’t think things through before acting from his heart, is a very realistic teenager who you can’t help but want to hug.” ~Smash Attack Reads
“The plot was incredible. If you like paranormal romance, this is great one to read.” ~Valerie, Stuck in Books
“I was drawn into this book from the very first chapter. It was a different type of book than any that I have read recently. Magic, romance, action. I loved it.” ~Darcus, Starcrossed Reviews