SHADOWS OF VALOR
Blurring the psychological haze between justice and revenge, Park’s debut novel brings new meaning to the Dark Knight.
On the surface, Graywall is content and booming. Lord Shaufton, who presides over the city, is a fine ruler. The poor are well-cared for, the area is popular, and morale is high—but within Graywall’s roots, something dark is stirring. This darkness threatens to overpower the once-peaceful town, until a mysterious figure appears: The Shadow.
! As much a figure of fear to the unruly as legend to the innocent, The Shadow is an enforcer of justice and aid to the King. Due to an outrageous export tax set by King Edward, smuggling has tainted the kingdom, so The Shadow is sent to hunt the smugglers down. Contrary to legend, The Shadow is simply a man known as Sir Calan who, although talented and just, struggles to keep his dark thoughts of revenge from becoming ruthless action.
! Due to sheer coincidence, The Shadow learns of a deadly plot against Lord Shaufton on a journey to Graywall. Now, he must enter a pseudo courtship with Lord Shaufton’s daughter under his original guise of Sir Calan, all while old emotions are stirred by the lovely Elsbeth, Lord Shaufton’s niece. Elsbeth, it seems, is the only woman who can heal his troubled soul, but she has a story of her own. What transpires is a glorious tale full of deceit, greed, inner struggles, betrayal, and most of all—love.
Where are you from? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in the beautiful mountains of Oakhurst, California (USA) outside of Yosemite National Park where my main hobbies were reading, writing, playing piano, playing soccer, and drawing. After graduating high school, I moved to Utah (USA) to study zoology, botany and criminal justice at college. I paid my way through school by working first as a security guard, and then fighting fires as a wildland firefighter with the Forest Service. I took a year and a half off from school to serve a religious mission for my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in beautiful northern Italy and then returned to school. I entered the police force after graduation, but soon missed the appeal of firefighting, so I returned to that after a short while. A few years after I married my sweetheart, I dropped my adventurous careers for motherhood (something I’ll never regret doing). I have three wonderful girls less than eight years of age. They are the light of my life.
Tell us about your book. How did it get started?
Taking place in 1300 A.D. England, SHADOWS OF VALOR is about The Shadow (aka Sir Calan), a knight-spy working under the direction of King Edward I, who hunts down and arrests smugglers who defy the law and evade paying their taxes. The Shadow’s duty is vengeance-fueled by a childhood experience involving smugglers. Dealing with society at its worst, The Shadow becomes cynical and struggles to rein in his desire to execute lethal justice before turning the perpetrators over to local authorities. He feels his soul turning black with hate in his continual fight against evil. A childhood acquaintance, Lady Elsbeth, who has a story of her own, enters his life years later, bringing light to his soul once again, but in an effort to keep his identity and duty secret, he must also deceive her. This creates distrust and uncertainty between them, as she accepts another man as her suitor. Smugglers infiltrate the area and The Shadow must discover who they are before Elsbeth and others are hurt or killed.
I’ve always loved books, reading and watching good movies (especially historicals), but I would often think of other ways I would have done a certain scene or ending if I didn’t necessarily like the way the author or director did it. My biggest inspiration originally came after several months of thinking that I really wanted to do something as a stay-at-home-mom other than changing diapers, dishes, laundry and errands, but I didn’t want to be taken FROM the home to do it. So when some adventurous medieval scenes invaded my head over a period of days, I thought, “Hey, that would make a good movie or an excellent story if coupled with a good plot.” So on a whim I jotted my ideas down and my first step to writing SHADOWS OF VALOR was taken.
How do you create your characters?
I first think of a problem or issue people deal with in today’s world (or in the past) and then I create a medieval backstory explaining why a character has that issue. That’s the beginning of any character. After that, I picture how he/she looks, what to call him/her and how he/she can overcome his/her issues.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I’ve written stories since I was little, making up plots about knights, dragons, princesses, pirates . . . anything I thought was exciting. I didn’t think about writing for publication until after having my first baby 7 years ago. As I said above, I got antsy to do something more as a stay-at-home-mom and typed my ideas out on a whim. The story steadily grew in chapters until it was a full-length novel. I’m inspired by wonderful movies, great books and my own imagination.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I have a computer desk in the family room so I can keep an eye on kids as I type. There aren’t enough rooms in our home for a separate writing room anyway – LOL. I usually type without music, though sometimes I put on an instrumental sound track. I love treats at my computer desk (probably the reason why I have trouble losing weight – LOL). I like chocolate, popcorn, dry cereal, peanut M&Ms . . . anything I can pop into my mouth with one hand and not have to wipe off before I touch the keyboard.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
I watch movies, read lots of books and think in my head what I would do if I were placed in those same situations. The outcome is always a different story from the book or movie.
What do you like to read?
Classics like Jane Austen’s stories, Shakespeare’s comedies, stories by Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasies, The Hardy Boys mysteries when I was younger, and PG-rated historical romances. I don’t pick up contemporaries very often (wanting to get lost in a world other than my own time period), but I’m not so srict that I’d never touch a contemporary. I’ve recently read some contemporaries published by my publisher, Jolly Fish Press, that were extremely good and very entertaining. Great stuff!
What would your advice be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
NEVER GIVE UP! Keep trying no matter what criticisms you get, no matter how many rejections you receive. Believe in your story and believe in yourself as a writer. There is a way to publish for everyone, especially with the internet and e-publishing. Keep looking and you’ll find a way to get your work published and to share it with the world.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I truly hope readers enjoy the story of Elsbeth and Calan in SHADOWS OF VALOR. I hope they appreciate the medieval setting surrounding issues we share today. I’m working on another historical story for a couple of dynamic characters who share issues with the modern reader, but live in the medieval world.
Thank you for having me on you blog, Denise! It’s been an honor and a privilege, and I’ve enjoyed it so much!
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