A few weeks ago I reviewed a fantasy story that I enjoyed, and that you could share with kids too: The Portal Keeper. I’ve messaged with the author, S. T. Sanchez, from my neighboring state of Texas. Today I’ll share our exchange. Scroll down for an excerpt from her novel 🙂
Welcome Sarah. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Dallas, Texas. I love Texas. The weather is crazy, but the people are friendly. I graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in Spanish. Mexico is my second home. My husband is from Mexico, and I have family down there. I love the culture, the people, and of course the food. I have three wonderful children and I love hiking and spending time outdoors when I am not writing.
Fantasy is my preferred genre to write in. There are no limits in fantasy beyond my own imagination.
What got you into writing?
I was never a huge reader when I was younger. I guess I just didn’t find anything that really grabbed my attention. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I really started to love reading. I would go through series after series.
I never thought of myself as a writer. Term papers were hard to stretch out to the ten or twenty pages required. The thought of writing a book didn’t really enter my mind.
My first book began on a whim. I just wanted to see how long I could write for. This resulted in a completely juvenile story that will never see the light of day. It did teach me that I had the capability to write. I just needed practice and a better storyline.
What did you learn from writing your first book?
Just to preserver. Keep working at it. Don’t be afraid of rewrites. Take your time and don’t rush into publication.
Which do you prefer: print books or ebooks?
I probably read about 50/50. Ebooks have their advantage but I still enjoy having a physical book in my hand occasionally.
Tell us a little bit about your main characters
Ajax is just about to turn fourteen. He is a dutiful child who is taking on a responsibility that was never meant
Is this a stand-alone novel or part of a series?
The Portal Keeper is book 1 in the series.
Currently, what are you working on?
I just finished up the second book in my YA Vampire trilogy. Nightwalker was just released in May. I am also working on the sequel to The Portal Keeper, I don’t have a title yet.
Do you have people read your drafts before you publish? How do you select beta readers?
Definitely. I am still looking for more. Some authors don’t want too many eyes on their work. I am the opposite. The more eyes the better. It is hard to find good beta readers who will point out your flaws. But I have a few really good ones.
What was your biggest challenge when writing? Did you have any writer’s block? If so, how did you work your way through it?
I find working on several projects helps keep my mind flowing. I try to keep the number to three projects. I have found that if I get stuck I can jump to another project and then when I come back to it, I usually don’t have a problem finishing it.
What was your writing process like?
I need background noise. Whether it’s the tv or good music. Then I usually
What are your hobbies aside from writing, if any?
I enjoy hiking, not that there are many places to do that in Texas, but I recently got to hike some of the parks in Utah. There is some gorgeous scenery. I also enjoy baking, which probably doesn’t help my chocolate addiction.
Please treat us to an excerpt from The Portal Keeper
It was dark all around him as he struggled to catch his breath. He couldn’t make out his hand in front of his face and had no idea which direction to swim in. Suddenly he was roughly pulled out of the water and tossed onto a hard surface. He coughed a few more times and tried to sit up. The floor rocked beneath him, and Ajax realized he was on a ship of some sort.
“Well, what have we got ourselves here?” a grizzly voice asked. “Spots, shine a little light over here, will you?”
Something buzzed by Ajax’s ear and then a small but exceptionally bright light shined in his face.
He put up his hand, attempting to shield the beam from his eyes.
“It’s a man,” someone called out.
Someone prodded him with a stick.
“Hey!” Ajax exclaimed, swatting it away.
“What were you doing out in the middle of Death Lake at this hour?”
Death Lake, that sounds promising, Ajax thought to himself.
“I’m looking for my friend,” Ajax answered. “Have you seen anyone else? Did anyone else fall?”
“Shut him up,” another voice called. “Get him down below.”
Something covered Ajax’s face and then he was grabbed forcefully and carried to another location. He felt as if he were going down stairs. He was flung unceremoniously into a chair, and the hood was yanked off his head. He rubbed the back of his arm, where he had been gripped too tightly. It was dark in this new place too.
Slowly a lamp was lit, giving a little light to the area.
A rhinoceros stood at the head of a table, wearing a pair of striped trousers and suspenders without a shirt. He leaned forward. “How did you come here?”
Ajax scooted back in his chair, looking around the table. He must have really experienced a lot in the past week because the talking rhinoceros didn’t amaze him as much as he felt it should.
From The Portal Keeper