ST. GEORGE – A pair of Dixie natives have made their debut into the world of fantasy literature with the mystical Shardwell series.
The minds behind Shardwell are sisters Christy Hall, 35, and Amanda Gerry, 27, Enterprise residents, and mathematics teachers at Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts in Ivins. Both are lifelong fantasy fans and began writing their own short stories from an early age. Hall cites authors J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien as creative inspirations, while Gerry draws many ideas from her passion for science fiction video games. Juggling writing, teaching and a busy family life (Hall is married with a son; Gerry is married and currently expecting her first child), they have been working on Shardwell since 2007.
Aimed at young adult readers, the series revolves around four high school students – Maggie Brooks, Lily Ivers, Kyle Spencer and Carter Drake – living in Idaho Falls, Idaho. They appear to be ordinary teenagers until it is discovered that each has been mysteriously possessed by an incredible ability, such as mind reading or the creation of fire. While struggling to understand their powers, they must also come to terms with whom they are and how they can survive in a world controlled by strange, unseen forces.
“[The core of] our novel is about the search for emotional balance and the power of everlasting friendship,” said Hall. “Each of our characters has a trait that gives them great strength, yet also causes their most potent flaw. None are capable of surviving their dangerous journey alone and must learn to trust [one another].”
Gerry said, “We wanted to present readers with characters who are imperfect, who often make things harder for themselves. But they are able to adapt as they face challenges and struggle to balance their relationships with each other. It was especially important to us to have characters that could be role models. We are teachers, after all!”
The Idaho Falls area serves as far more than the series’ setting. While on a family camping trip to Yellowstone National Park, Gerry began brainstorming a story about a girl who could be reborn each time she died but remembered nothing of her past lives. Thus the early idea of Shardwell was conceived. According to Hall, the series‘ premise is that the universe was shattered long ago by a group of warring gods. Each piece, including Earth, became its own world, also called a “shard”. A wall that cannot be crossed without magic binds these worlds.
“Phoenix Angel,” the first book of a projected six, was released to the public in January 2012 and has sold 90 copies to date. Having signed a deal with Amazon.com, Gerry and Hall will self-publish the series through their own company, Scribes of Shardwell. Phoenix Angel is currently available in both hard copy and Kindle e-book on Amazon. Locally, it can be found at Comics Plus and the Little Professor Book Center in St. George and at Gunjah The Bead Forest in Cedar City.
The sisters plan to embark on a book tour this summer to promote the August release of the next installment, “Guardian Of Time.”
They are currently working on a rough draft of the fourth Shardwell book and will write another series involving dragons in the future.
“Our love for fantasy drove us to create the series, but we [also wanted] to write a novel that our students would appreciate,” said Hall. “We are really excited to share our vision.”
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.