Please tell us about your latest book.
So, SPOILERS ahead. If you haven’t read Savage Spells Book 1, “Everyone Leaves This Place,” and Savage Spells Book 2, “Love’s Heavy Spell,” then you should STOP reading this interview and read those two books. Book 1 has received rave reviews. Book 2 also has been well-received.
For those who’ve read Book 1 and Book 2, let me tell you about Savage Spells Book 3, entitled, “Still Running Deep.” The book picks up the same day Book 2 left off, March 8, 2020, with Evee Salazar and Mark Perrino split up but still thinking about each other.
Evee’s life is back on track: She’s assumed control of her powers and shined in her new internship. She steps into a loving relationship, but I won’t say any more about that.
But a blizzard of trouble is about to blow into town. Three evil witches surface, still conspiring to control the AI technology that will shape their dark vision of the future.
To complicate matters, the mystical force that guides Evee’s coven instructs her to perform what seems like an unthinkably wicked act. If she can’t follow this gut-wrenching path, Evee may not be able to stave off the dark-magic witches’ plans for world domination.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on two new projects/ series:
I’m scrubbing and enhancing an unpublished fantasy novel I wrote from 2013-2018 called “Dark Water and the Maiden.” It’s set in 1973, and it’s got a “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” meets “A Wrinkle in Time” meets James Bond vibe. Beta readers love this work, and it’s a very personal story inspired by my childhood and the first school I attended in Bethesda, Maryland. This novel is part of a four-book series, “Seams Along the Near World,” which I intend to publish in the next couple of years.
I’m also about twenty to twenty-five percent into drafting a new, Upper Middle Grade/Lower Young Adult (12-15 years old) science fiction/horror novel in a new series. I’m withholding nearly everything about this story. I just had a beta reader tell me it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. I’m writing it in the first-person present, which is new for me, from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old boy who’s just had his life turned upside down (but he doesn’t know he’s in for a bunch more trouble). I’m super excited about the story. It’s high concept (easily explained). It’ll probably be part of a series of 3-4 novels. I’m at the stage we’re I’ve taken a break from writing to research certain things.
How do we find out about you and your books?
link to purchase all SAVAGE SPELLS books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/R.B.-Shifman/e/B07Y28F8N5?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Let’s say enough of my life experience is in my work to make my wife mildly uncomfortable.
As I finish a series, I look back, and I can always see my subconscious mind was trying to teach me a lesson in real life. In Savage Spells Book 3, which just got published, it’s about how to deal with failure.
When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I wrote some stuff in my early teens, but I truly began writing with a passion when I hit my mid-thirties in 2002. At this time, I felt compelled to write a novel that harkened to the nostalgia of my childhood – “Riverwood: Remembrance,” which is part of my “Seams Along the Near World” series. I wrote four books in that urban fantasy series from 2002-2018. I’m proud of “Dark Water & the Maiden,” which I wrote last, from 2013-2018; this story is a prequel. This book, set mainly in 1973, could be the most emotionally resonant work I’ve ever created. As I noted, I’m cleaning up this work now.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you just go with the flow?
I try to write in the morning, for a few hours, at least a few times a week. I do work a contract job, where the work is variable, so I often need to adjust my schedule. With COVID-19, I’ve had some added time to write, as my hours have been greatly reduced. But I’ve also been looking for work—so there’s that.
What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
People leave me alone. Mostly.
What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I work out. I walk because I have a bad knee and can’t run anymore. I listen to music. And, last but not least, I chill with my wife, Sheri, watching TV or hanging out around Doylestown (not lately, but we hope to get back there when things open up).
Where do your ideas come from?
The ether. Seriously, sometimes it feels like my ideas come from another dimension. Probably from my dreams. Who knows?
Do you feel humor is important in books and why?
Yes. It keeps people engaged and makes characters likable. I’ve never understood people in real life who are humorless, as they seem to take themselves too seriously. A certain amount of humor keeps the ball rolling so to speak, moving that narrative forward.
What kind of research do you do?
There’s almost always research involved. For “Still Running Deep,” I spoke with Rick Mitchell, who is the Chief Meteorologist for NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth. We discussed the weather, but that’s all I want to say.
For my new SciFi/Horror WIP, there are a couple different settings about which I need to understand more. So, I’m in the process of doing that online and through phone interviews.
Please tell us about yourself.
God is the most important, guiding force in my life. Without God I truly believe nothing else in my life would fall into place. Doesn’t mean God always makes things perfect for me, but because of God, my wife and I have a close, loving relationship, and I learn more every day about my purpose here on earth.
My family is important to me, including my wife, son (21) and daughter (18). My daughter is transgender, and LGBTQ rights are important to me (these rights were important to me before I knew she was transgender; they’re human rights).
I’m a writer by nature. I wrote an awful book when I was fourteen on a typewriter. I’ve worked as a market researcher, but a writer is what I am.
What are some of your favorite things to do?
If you want to know about my interests, outside of hanging with my wife—I like dancing to DJ Earworm when nobody is watching, reading all sorts of stuff (from bestsellers like “All the Light We Cannot See” to YA like “We Are Okay,” to fantasy like “The Vine Witch”), working out/walking (I was a wrestler in high school and a coach for youth wrestling many years), and watching University of Miami Football. I do like a good Netflix series. We just finished Season 3 of ‘Ozark,’ and I’m such a huge Laura Linney fan. I like to teach; since I published Savage Spells, I’ve taught a couple of high school classes about Creative Writing.
I’d like to travel abroad someday.
Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
Lately, I’ve been getting into Charlie N. Holmberg, Luanne Smith, and Rhys Bowen.
Another Solstice author, Kari R. Joyner, has the best, ‘book club’ type story out called “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” Love it!
What do you think of critique groups in general?
I [still] don’t know much about them. I’ve got my little group of people who beat up my work in private.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
If things proceed as I desire, writing full time. We’ll see. I do like market research contracting, but if I could make a full-time living by writing, I would.
How many books have you written, how many have been published?
My Seams series has four books. And there’s the Savage Spells trilogy. So, seven total and one on the way in my new SciFi/horror series.
After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
Yes. Writing a trilogy, I had to reread my work to ensure I didn’t forget details. It’s essential to maintain cross-novel consistency.
Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?
Evee Salazar is near and dear to my heart.
After this, Paul Branch from “Dark Water & the Maiden.”
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
When somebody says your book touched their heart. If you write from the heart, you tap into this universal need for connection and permanence, which I believe is Divine. If a book makes you shed a tear, that’s where it’s coming from. My debut series, at first, seems very light-hearted (sort of like the reader’s first impression of Evee), but I believe it taps into some deep emotional territory. I hope it resonates with people, which is most rewarding.
Also, when you write something, and you know it’s super-hot (well crafted, sharp, highly readable, engaging, etc.). That’s a GREAT feeling because it only happens, for me, about 30% of the time.
If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
I honestly don’t know.
What is your greatest desire?
To see my wife and children thrive and to serve a higher purpose here on earth. I know that’s two things. I believe these two things are connected though.
After that, I’d take a film deal for one of my books/series. I’ve said this before, I’d like to see actress, Isabela Merced play Evee Salazar.
Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Sixteen years. That’s how long it took me between writing my first novel and publishing. Also, keep your mind open to advice and learning new things to improve your writing. It helped me for sure. I’m still learning.