I’m delighted to be welcoming the talented Cypriot children’s author Denise Ersalahi Erguler to the blog today to talk about her novel, The Adventures of Shifting Jack, which is released today as an ebook. My review follows the interview.
Firstly, could you please describe the story for readers?
Yes with pleasure, it is about a family of bird shifters that have been in hiding moving from country to country
What’s the inspiration behind The Adventures of Shifting Jack?
I had an idea for an adult fantasy novel rattling in my mind for a while, so I decided to write my book called The Essence. It’s about a planet called Nageena. Fiona, an interior designer, is kidnapped by aliens who are hoping Fiona can help them with the civil war that is killing their planet. They picked up on Fiona’s unique brain waves – she has empathic abilities – but it doesn’t help the civil war as they have a problem with the planet’s defence system. Fiona meets the man of her dreams, literally. She has been dreaming of a man since she was a little girl. In her dreams they grew up together, and now she meets him in the flesh. However, she doesn’t feel anything for him. Even worse it looks like he hates her!
The Denizens of planet Nageena are shape shifters, they host a symbiant entity called The Essence, which allows them to shift into various animals.
My son wanted to know what I had written about, so I told him the clean version. His face lit up when I told him about shifting, so I thought I would write a shifting story for children.
Jack and his father, Militis, are shape shifters—half breeds. What appealed to you about shapeshifters and, for those who don’t know what a shapeshifter is, could you please describe one?
A shape shifter is being that can change their body into another shape like a human into a bear, or bird.
One of the things I took away from my reading of the book is the value of respecting nature and being kind to animals, and each other. This is a very important message, especially for young children. Did you consciously weave this lesson, and others, into the book?
Yes, Mother Nature needs to be looked after better. It’s always easier to start with children of a young age, you would be surprised what they pick up on.
How long did it take you to write the story and what obstacles did you encounter along the way?
It’s been three years since I wrote my first word. The biggest obstacle we came across was when I was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Since then I have been focusing on getting better–my writing has taken the back seat for now.
Once your first draft was written, did you have a lot of rewriting to do? Could you talk readers through your writing process?
First I wrote a basic outline, then I expanded that into chapters. Once it was finished I passed it on to Anne Hamilton to edit. Once I had her feedback I changed one scene and added other scenes and events.
The story is written in close third-person, from nine-year-old Jack’s perspective. Did you find it difficult to write from a child’s viewpoint, and what challenges did you come across as a result?
I didn’t find it difficult to write as a nine-year old, as I have a nine-year old boy myself.
How did you come to writing? Have you always enjoyed storytelling?
I’m a dreamer, sometimes I think I’m away with the fairies more than I am on earth. I lived in The Essence story for over a year. It was hard to end the book.
Are there any future novels in the works?
Yes, I’ve just started to plan out the second Shifting Jack of the series.
Thank you for the interview and a big congratulations on the publication of The Adventures of Shifting Jack!
Readers can obtain The Adventures of Shifting Jack from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01I5GAMNA
You can follow Denise on Twitter at: @Denise_Jack16
Catch up with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Denise-Erguler-Author
My review of The Adventures of Shifting Jack
Nine-year-old Jack and eight-year-old Lily move with their parents, Linda and Militis, to Turkish Cyprus, uncertain of what to expect from their new school and home. The family has already moved numerous times for Militis’s work. Jack and Lily have become used to switching schools and not having friends. As a result, Lily is shy and withdrawn and Jack feels it’s his duty to look out for her; Lily is all he has in terms of a playmate. Linda worries about them and wishes they could stay put for once.
When Linda takes the kids to their new school, she’s impressed. The staff and students are welcoming and friendly, far more so than those at the previous schools they attended. Lily makes a friend almost immediately—Bahar—whose mother also reaches out to Linda. Before they realise it both families have become close.
As the kids are playing on the playground one afternoon, a small earthquake hits. Jack reaches out to try and help Lily escape from a falling swing-set when something remarkable happens—his hand turns into a claw and grows feathers. When it changes back again, he thinks he must have imagined it. But Militis confesses to Jack that they’re shifters—creatures who are both human and bird. Jack knows he’s finally figured out why his family have always seemed different to him.
Unfortunately, Bahar’s father, Ali, is a hunter—an activity which Jack’s family is firmly opposed to. When it comes to light that Ali isn’t only a hunter but is also being blackmailed by foreign poachers, Jack and Militis decide to get involved by using their shifting powers to help. But will they be too late? And will Jack ever master his shifting, or will he end up getting himself, and his family, into trouble?
The Adventures of Shifting Jack is a delightfully imaginative fable for middle-grade children whose fresh and different perspective will also appeal to their parents.