P.H.C. Marchesi has written a wonderful young adult sci-fi/fantasy story entitled Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes. As most know, this genre is where my imagination takes flight, so it was great to chat with another author with a passion for the same. We sat down for an interview recently. Here's what she had to say.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lived there for several years until my family moved to Vienna, Austria. I attended the International School in Vienna, learned English and German (in addition to Portuguese, which was my native language), and met kids from all over the world. I also got the chance to travel to several countries, and experience different cultures. Eventually I came to the United States for college, and then graduate school. Now I teach literature to undergraduates and write young adult fantasy. I can’t imagine a better life! I also adore animals, and share my life with a variety of rescued pets.
2. How long have you been writing?
As a kid, I remember writing little picture books that I illustrated and put together myself. I also remember writing for different occasions: for example, one of the earliest things I wrote was a eulogy on the death of a beloved pet fish. I didn’t know it was a eulogy back then, of course. All I knew was that I had to write something, because it was the only way I could deal with the situation. As I grew up and continued writing, I found that I preferred writing high fantasy – especially since I spent a great deal of time daydreaming about different worlds, anyway! I learned to put my feeling, experiences, and life observations within the fantasy worlds I created.
3. What is Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes about?
The novel is about thirteen-year-old twins whose lives change drastically when a planet from a different dimension, Miriax, recruits them to seal a dimensional hole that allows evil aliens to travel beyond their dimension. From that moment on, the Kitt twins find out that the universe is full of life-draining Klodians, space ghosts, cities in jungles, books that choose their readers, walls that spit on you, and lilac tea served with mushrooms. Shelby and Shauna also discover certain special powers they have, and realize that those alone aren’t enough to defeat evil and turn them into heroes.
4. How did you come up with the plot?
Gradually! I knew what would happen at several key points when I began writing, and I knew most of the ending long before I knew bits and pieces in the middle. The story went through several drafts, so that I could eliminate inconsistencies, polish the characters, and even change my mind about certain things. I suppose I could also say that I’ve been coming up with the plot for years, dreaming about different worlds, exciting adventures, and so on – and I’ve known for a long time that I wanted a boy and a girl to be the heroes of the book. I wanted to write a novel where both were equally important and interesting, and where both had to work together to do something great.
5. Tell us about Shelby and Shauna.
Shelby and Shauna are thirteen-year-old fraternal twins. They are, as siblings often are, completely different from each other. Shelby is impulsive and daring, as well as fiercely loyal. His sister, Shauna, is introverted, optimistic, and determined. Because they’re such different people, they complement each other, though (of course) sometimes they also annoy each other! They haven’t had an easy life, and so they’ve learned to rely on each other. At the beginning of the book, they live in a tiny attic apartment in Manhattan, and dream of doing incredible things.
6. What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?
In my novel, the boy and the girl co-star as heroes. In addition, the premise of two planets from different dimensions (Miriax and Klodius) orbiting Earth is something new. The world of Miriax, to which Shelby and Shauna Kitt travel, is entirely different from any fantasy world I’ve read about. Maybe this is because, having grown up in different countries, I read books from different cultures. Or maybe it’s because the different places in which I lived all merged together in my imagination to create Miriax.
7. Did you have any specific goals when writing this title? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?
I wanted to show that heroism can mean many different things. I also wanted to highlight the value of friendship, teamwork, creativity, courage, and compassion. These are, I think, essential qualities for individual and global success in the 21st century.
8. How long did it take you to write? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?
I had a complete draft after a year, and then had to put the project on hold because I was nearing the completion of my graduate degree. After I graduated, I began to work on the book again, and it went through several more drafts before I felt I was done with revisions and the novel was ready. I then hired a cover artist to do the cover.
9. Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing aspirations? How do they support you?
My family. I was fortunate because my creativity and imagination were always encouraged and valued. I had room to grow. I had moral support to take risks. And, most importantly, I was allowed to daydream, and thus eventually create the world of Miriax.
10. As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?
The novel has a FB site with regular updates and giveaways at http://on.fb.me/iDEkCo, so please visit! I’m on twitter (@PHCMarchesi), and I have a blog at http://shelbyandshaunakitt.blogspot.com/, which I would love for readers to visit.
11. What do you feel are the most important aspects of a great book?
An exciting story, interesting characters, a creative/innovative premise, and writing that does justice to all of these.
12. Have you ever sat down to write a scene only to have the story take you in a completely different direction than you had planned?
Oh yes – often! I love when that happens, because that’s when writing is at its most spontaneous. Usually this means that the unconscious mind has been working on the story, and has figured out where it should be going. As a writer, you have to be flexible and allow the story room to grow in a direction you might not have foreseen.
13. And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?
To be honest, I’ve watched very little television recently. Between teaching at a university and writing, I’ve had almost no time to sit in front of the TV and watch something from beginning to end. As a child, ET and the Star Wars trilogy were my favorite movies, and I was completely hooked on sci-fi shows such as Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Buck Rogers. Later it was Babylon 5 and Star Trek:Voyager, which I still enjoy.
Thank you so much for stopping by for a chat! I wish nothing but the best for you and your book!
Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes at Amazon.com
Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes at Barnesandnoble.com
Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes at Goodreads