Introducing Alex Shepherd & Aether Shift
Updated: Jul 16
Hey folks! I am back with a new string of interviews and guest posts and other fun stuff planned. Let's get started with a new author that I have connected with (virtually) ... Alex Shepherd.
Her DEBUT novel, Aether Shift, releases TODAY (July 16, 2021)!
Alex grew up in the mountains of Montana, USA, in a family that celebrated the outdoors and all it had to offer. Growing up camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing, she developed an intense love of the wilderness and all the creatures in it. That childhood love led to a professional career in training dogs, a mad and expensive passion called falconry, and, when combined with an overactive imagination, the creation of fantastical, creature-filled worlds put down in print. In writing and reading she adores fantasy, creatures, monsters, and magic. Her worlds tend to be dark and gritty, but she’s still a sucker for a happy ending. Outside of writing, she shares her home with hawks, dogs, and a very patient husband. She’s a shameless coffee addict and has a fondness for Montana’s prolific local craft breweries, good food, and good wine.
Good, good. That's all good. Oh great. She brought her hawk. Can I pet ... no? Okay then. On to my questions. Ms. Shepherd, what is the first story you remember telling?
I can't remember anything specific as far as what the story was about, but I remember making up scary stories/ghost stories for my little sister and cousins. I was the oldest and my aim was to always scare the pants off of them.
I see from your bio that you like the outdoors. What is your favorite activity to do in the summer? Winter?
I am lucky to live in a state that has SO MUCH to offer for outdoor activities that it's almost impossible to choose one. In the summer, we have this thing in Montana we simply call "floating," which is where we all get inner tubes and generally bring a cooler filled with drinks and snacks of your choice, and let the river carry you for a few hours. Throw in camping and hiking and you have a perfect MT summer.
In the winter, my life is pretty consumed by the sport of falconry. I spend most of my winter hunting and flying birds, although cold winter nights are best for movies, games, and hot tubbing!
So, I loved your book, Aether Shift! One question for you about it… how do you pronounce Daen’s name? Just want to make sure I have it right in my head, you know?
Haha, great question. Day-en. Although you could pronounce it Dane. He really wouldn't mind.
Well, good thing I never considered Dean. Ha. That would have irritated him for sure. I mean, I roll my eyes whenever anyone leaves the H off the end of my name. But, what can you do, right?
It is a fascinating story, well-told and I loved the twists and turns. What led you to write your novel?
This is such a fun story! This is one of those "it all started when I was a teenager" type of answers, back in the good old days of AOL Instant Messenger. I had a very good friend who lived a few states away from me who I kept in touch with via AIM. She actually created the very first iteration of Daen as a character, and we wrote this little tag-team story as, oh, 13-year-olds? for something creative and fun to do, and it became the genesis for Aether Shift. Being the little pack rat that I am, I saved all those pages and pages of our storytelling, and one day about 6 years ago when I was feeling nostalgic, I started reading through them. I got all the warm fuzzies, and the wish that Daen and Asha's story could continue. So for fun, I took the opening, reworked it, rewrote it, and sent a grown-up, polished version of it to my friend. It sort of started as a joke, but then I couldn't put it down! The story kept evolving and growing, and now there are four planned books' worth of their life and adventures, and while it is nothing like our original story, the heart of it is there.
That is a great story. I am so glad you took it back up. I am anxious for the next installment.
On to more serious questions. Star Wars or Star Trek?
I love both, but if I had to choose it would be Star Trek
I knew we were soul mates! I mean, I agree with you there.
If you were to be gifted a superpower that you had to use continuously for 8 hours every day, what would it be?
That's a tough caveat. I turned to my husband for help on this one, and he came up with a GREAT answer, that I'm totally stealing. Accelerated healing!
As a veterinarian, that would be helpful superpower to use on critters. And I suppose on other people, like someone in your story ... I digress.
So, you are a falconer… when did you start and why? Do you have your own birds or train for other people?
Falconry is the art of hunting wild quarry with a trained bird of prey. I am (as you might guess) a total animal nut, and I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad. I saw a presentation on falconry and raptors when I was about 10 years old and it struck a chord that was the perfect blend of so many of the things I love. I went through the licensing process when I was sixteen and I've been flying birds ever since. I have my own birds, two harris' hawks, and they take up most of my daylight-hours free time during the fall and winter :)
Loaded question... What is your favorite author/book?
Can anybody legitimately answer this question? How could anyone pick a single favorite?? This is by no means a complete answer, but if you're FORCING me to pick something/someone, I'm going to go with Tamora Pierce. Her YA heroines and amazing fantasy worlds was really a springboard into the genre for me, and the main character of her Immortals quartet was a huge inspiration for the creation of Asha.
Well, now I have another author to check out. My TBR pile is already several thousand miles long.
The zombie apocalypse will happen in two days. You are fully stocked with food, water, and toilet paper. What is the one thing you will have stocked up on as your guilty pleasure?
Coffee. Absolutely coffee.
It's as close to accelerated healing as one can get these days.
What movie sequel would you erase from history, and why?
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Do I have to explain why? 😂
You won the mythical lottery and are granted the use of a magical creature for one week. What creature would you pick, and why? I have an idea of our pick, btw...
GIVE ME MY OWN DRAGON PLEASE AND THANKS.
What is one food you could never bring yourself to eat, and why?
Lutefisk. I really don't relish the idea of eating lye-preserved, gelatinized snot that was once maybe a fish.
I mean the smell alone ... one would have to be very hungry to eat that. Just saying.
Tell us your favorite "dad joke."
I'm dying. Really, can't breathe. My eyes are watering. Gah.
Now that you are a published author, what are you going to do?
Do it again :) I've got three more books' worth of Aether Shift to tell!
Daen made a terrible mistake.
He disobeyed orders, and now half his team are dead. Those who survive face an even worse fate in the mires of the Geimaran slave trade. When Daen ends up in the custody of a powerful enemy nobleman, his part in the Resistance may be over.
At his captor’s estate, the evil he and his fellow rebels oppose is darker than they imagined. Their enemies keep the Aether-touched in chains and slaughter mages on sight. But Duke Kieron is doing something even worse: he’s stealing free will, transforming his captives into mindless, devoted slaves who obey his every order. If he succeeds in harnessing the full power of these magical beings for his kingdom’s gain, it could mean the end of the Resistance.
But one amongst them resists Kieron’s thrall: Asha’s unique abilities make her immune to the duke’s compulsions, though her deep mistrust of humanity also makes her an unlikely ally. But with no Aethercraft of his own, Daen needs any help he can get to win back his freedom.
Will Asha overcome her fears and help him escape, or will Daen succumb to his enemy’s machinations and become the very enemy he fights to overthrow?
Thank you for the lovely interview. I wish you the best with Aether Shift and the others to come!
Social media links for Alex Shepherd…