Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR! I’m so excited because today I have an interview with Sam Subity to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
The Last Shadow Warrior by Sam Subity
Published on May 4, 2021 by Scholastic Press
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
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Twelve-year-old Abby Beckett is proud to come from a long line of elite Viking warriors known as the Aesir. She's spent her entire life training to hunt the horrific creatures known as Grendels - the ancient foe of the Aesir - just like her mother did before she died. But there's just one, small problem: No one has seen a Grendel in centuries, and the Viking Council wants to disband the Aesir . . . forever.
When her father is injured in an attack that leaves him in a coma, Abby is forced to take refuge at Vale Hall, a mysterious school in Minnesota where nothing is quite as it seems. She soon discovers the tables have turned and a Grendel is hunting her, but when she tries to alert the Viking Council, they accuse her of making up stories for attention . . . just like her mother did.
Desperate to protect her father and clear her mother's name, Abby goes on a dangerous quest to discover the truth--a journey that brings her face-to-face with some unlikely foes, including a Ping-Pong-playing sea monster with a wicked backhand, and a dark Valkyrie with a fondness for bingo. Abby quickly realizes that someone at the school is trying to stop her progress and destroy the Aesir for good. And only she can unravel the sinister plot before it's too late.
What would you do if you spent the day with Abby? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.?
I like this question because readers don’t actually get to see much of Abby’s normal life in the first book. In the first 10 pages, she’s attacked at home by a mysterious intruder, and then most of the rest of the story arc has her in Viking warrior mode as she tries to save her dad’s life while eluding a Grendel that she suspects wants to kill her. But when she’s not running for her life, Abby has much the same interests as many twelve-year-olds. Breakfast is her favorite meal of the day, so we’d probably start out with a batch of her dad’s famous banana chocolate chip pancakes—heavy on the chocolate chips. As the daughter of a single dad getting by on a teacher’s salary, she’s gotten used to being frugal, so we’d hit the mall next, but only for window shopping as she imagines herself in the designer clothes that all the other kids in her grade wear. Then we’d finish off the day with a movie—probably The Princess Bride which was her mom’s favorite.
If Abby were to hang out with characters from other books, who would they be and why?
She’d probably get along great with Jo from Shakirah Bourne’s debut Josephine Against the Sea because they both have to defeat supernatural foes that no one around them believes are real, they’re both really good at sports, and both have lost their moms. Abby would likely also feel a connection with Brida from Jennifer Adam’s The Last Windwitch because they both struggle with figuring out their abilities and the frustration of failure to live up to external expectations, which, as it happens, is something a lot of kids (and adults) tend to struggle with.
Would you rather be a superhero or a supervillain? What would your powers and name be and why?
As a kid, I was always a big fan of Superman, so definitely a superhero with a cape. But these days as a dad I’m a little more practical in my aspirations, so I’d just be happy to have any kind of cooking abilities whatsoever. I’ve tried and failed several times to make a grilled cheese sandwich that isn’t so charred that it makes my kids gag (how does the bread go from zero to burned in 15 seconds??), so maybe that could be my superpower—making the perfect grilled cheese. They could call me The Cheez Whiz, with a cape the color of cheddar that billows in the draft from the oven hood fan.
If you buried a time capsule with three items inside, what three items would you choose and why?
Keeping with the bookish theme, I’d likely include a few items that tell a bit of the story of my literary life. One would be an old, tattered copy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy which was the first set of books that got me excited about writing fantasy. Another would be the first book I wrote, a time travel adventure penned in second grade with barely any plot but nonetheless a seed of my authoring future. And the last might be the letter from my editor who signed The Last Shadow Warrior, a document which I still have to look at now and then to be absolutely sure it’s real.
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
Most of the research I did was around Vikings and Norse mythology, and that mostly made it into the book (or will be in a future book). But I did go on a bit of a science detour for a scene where Abby’s class had to do the traditional “egg drop” project where you build a contraption to protect an egg from breaking after falling from a height. Now that was a fun rabbit hole through the science interwebs and YouTube! If only I could get a redo on my own seventh grade project… Ultimately, I had to cut several thousand words to put the final manuscript on a diet and eggs were off the menu, so to speak.
What is your favorite quote, scene, or moment from The Last Shadow Warrior?
I think I’d have to say my favorite scene is where Abby and her friends battle a Ping-Pong playing sea monster in the school swimming pool. Without revealing any details that might spoil the fun, I’ll just say that I wanted to have a scene that showcased each of my three main characters’ unique skills and personalities, and how each individually contributes to their success as a trio. One of the things I hope kids take away from the book is that heroes come in all different packages, and you don’t have to be like this or that other person to be a hero—there’s a hero in you just as you are. And I think this is one of the key scenes in the book that demonstrates this theme.
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.
Or he might be mowing his lawn. Because that’s what adults sometimes have to do.
But in either case, Sam Subity is very likely imagining himself fighting mythical creatures or at the prow of a dragon ship feeling the wind and sea spray on his face alongside his own Viking queen and their two Vikelets. His greatest hope is that in reading his books, you too may be transported to another place where, for a little while, you can exchange the ordinary for the extraordinary.
What do you think about The Last Shadow Warrior? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!