Hi Sam, and welcome to MG Book Village! We’re very excited to reveal the cover for your upcoming debut MG novel, THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR, which comes out in April 2021 (Scholastic). Can you tell us a bit about it, please?
Thanks so much for having me! I’ve been following MG Book Village for a long time, and it’s an honor to have my book featured here. My original pitch for The Last Shadow Warrior was Percy Jackson meets Beowulf, and I hope readers will find some of the same pulse-pounding adventure and humor in my story of a fierce 12-year-old named Abby Beckett who has been training her entire life to take her place in a long line of Grendel hunters. Only her plans are turned upside down when she discovers that she is the one being hunted and must flee to the mysterious Vale Hall, a school where nothing is quite as it seems.
I’m curious to know the inspiration behind your story?
The book actually started as a short story in response to a call from a kids’ magazine for stories about Vikings. That story earned me a polite rejection, but by that time the idea had already taken hold of my imagination, and as sometimes happens in writing, my brain was off plotting a novel-length version combining Norse mythology and Beowulf lore into what eventually became The Last Shadow Warrior.
What has the debut publishing experience been like for you so far, and has anything surprised you?
I’d heard from other writers about their debut experiences, but I think it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that you’ve been doing all this writing and revising—maybe even for years on one manuscript—and you think it’s pretty close to done. And then you get an agent and there’s more revising. And then you sign with a publisher and there’s…still more revising. So at this point I’m fairly exhausted but feeling that the story is much stronger for having gone through this process.
Writing is often hard to balance with other life commitments. How do you fit writing into your daily life?
In writing circles, there’s a lot of discussion about there being two types of writers—pantsers and plotters. But I think there’s at least one more type that I call a “parentser,” and that’s the mom or dad who has to fit writing into the odd corners of the day, whether it’s a 5 a.m. writing sprint when the kids are still asleep or a 15-minute gap before your next meeting. Somehow you just find the time, and fortunately my wife has been awesome through the whole process both with taking the kids when I need to meet a writing deadline and being my biggest fan.
OK, let’s talk about your cover. Did you have any input on it, and if so, what was the experience like for you?
I was pleasantly surprised because I’d heard that authors sometimes don’t get much input on their covers, but I felt very involved in every step of the process. Of course, I owe a huge shout-out to the illustrator Jay Bendt (jaybendt.com) who asked me about my vision for certain elements of the cover and nailed it right from the start. As an author, the process forced me to do a final check on my descriptions of the characters—were all the details of everything from eye color and height to the clothes and jewelry they wear consistent throughout the book?
OK, let’s show everyone what it looks like!
Wow, what gorgeous artwork! I love the colors and I’m intrigued to see how all those elements on the cover connect to your story.
Thank you! I was impressed by how Jay was able to incorporate so much of the story into one image, down to the smallest details like the tiny Ping-Pong paddle in the sea monster’s tentacle (background at top of cover) that comes from a key battle scene in the book. And particularly her renderings of the characters’ hair and wings are just amazing.
What is it that you love most about writing for kids?
I absolutely love how kids are so open to fantastic and magical things. As an author, it really lets me set my imagination free to put on the page whatever I can dream up. And to see a kid giggle at or be so lost in one of my stories that the world fades away—that’s what makes it all worth it right there.
Where can people go to find out more about you and your writing?
My website is http://www.samsubity.com, and I’m on Twitter and Instagram at @sjsubity.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of your cover reveal, and we look forward to following your publishing journey!
Thanks so much! Looking forward to sharing The Last Shadow Warrior with the world next April!
Sam Subity loves writing stories that explore the magic and wonder of being a kid and is thrilled to share his writing with readers everywhere—both the young in age and the young at heart. When he’s not writing, you might find him running the trails of northern California where the endless, winding miles past fog and ocean inspire stories of adventure and mystery.