Inside USD

Novel Debut

Thursday, May 16, 2013

For some writers, it can take many years — and much blood, sweat and tears — to write, revise, and ultimately publish a novel. And even then, after all of the labor of love and finessing of words, some are still never quite able to do so.

But the journey towards publication has been much shorter for a very talented University of San Diego writer. Sophomore Shannon M. Wheeler ‘15 can now check “wrote and published a novel” off of her list.

Wheeler’s impressive debut novel Sea Change (Tor Books, $24.99 hardcover) comes out June 18 and already the reviews are quite good.

“I’ve always had an inherent desire to tell stories and share those stories with other people,” said Wheeler. “I’m interested in understanding the behavior of other people and why people act the way they do. I’ve found I can answer these questions through writing.”

This sentiment was the basis for her novel, which she started at age 15. After writing just a short snippet of creative prose, Wheeler found herself continuing to return to the story and the intriguing characters, working and building upon the novel until she finished it at 17. The manuscript fell into the hands of Tor Books and now, two years later and through many rounds of revision and rewriting, it will land on bookshelves around the country this summer.

Wheeler describes the book as a piece of adult fantasy, influenced by her love of folklore, legends and language. From the jacket cover, Sea Change is about:

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly’s quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience and selflessness in the name of friendship.

Already, the ball has started to roll. Wheeler will partake in a book release party and reading of Sea Change at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego on June 21 at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. She will also be participating in blog tours and other readings throughout the year.

“It’s all terribly exciting,” she said.

When asked about her plans for the future, this English major, Classical Studies minor will continue her schooling at USD and hopes to attend graduate school for her master’s and ultimately PhD. Yet her passion for school hasn’t stopped her from continuing to cultivate her writing.

“I have something in the works,” she said, and it looks like Shannon M. Wheeler fans can expect a sequel to Sea Change from this budding, young talent in the near future.

— Kelly Machleit

Purchase Shannon M. Wheeler’s book Sea Change and watch the YouTube book trailer.

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