Interview with Barbara Pietron, author of Soulshifter

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Soulshifter is about sixteen-year-old Jack, who has the ability to cross worlds. When one of his classmates goes missing, he overhears her best friend, Natalie, describe the creature that took her and he instantly knows the girl was taken to the underworld. It occurs to Jack that rescuing the girl could earn him the status he needs to make his dreams come true, so he convinces Natalie to help him. But as soon as they begin for formulate a plan, dark forces are already working against them. As they embark on the mission, Jack is no longer sure what he really wants, but it's too late to back out. Unwilling to damn the girl's soul, Jack and Natalie put their own souls in jeopardy by battling wits with the god of the underworld.

Why did you write your book? 

NaNoWriMo! Soulshifter was my first National Novel Writing Month experience (a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days). When I went back and read the story a few years later, I was surprised that I liked it! At that point, the manuscript was pretty bare bones, but after spending some time editing and fleshing it out, I'm truly proud of the end result.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 

As much as Jack seeks success in life, he's not looking for notoriety. He belongs to a spiritual sect that is often misunderstood by outsiders – especially his peers – so he keeps his dream to gain a high position in the sect under wraps. He likes to play guitar and is stoked at the recent opportunity to join a rock band with other high schoolers. On the surface, Jack and Natalie have little in common. Jack has only lived a few years in the town Natalie grew up in. He doesn't know a lot of kids at his school, where Natalie is popular, a former track star and class secretary. Jack's humble home with supportive parents contrasts Natalie's upbringing by a rich father who, after his wife left, became married to his job. Natalie's relationship with her best friend has filled the gap of growing up without a mother and she's devastated by the girl's disappearance.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 

I've done both, actually. In my first novel, Thunderstone, nearly all of the characters are based on real people since the story originated with an actual family trip. For Soulshifter, though, all of the characters are completely made up.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write? 

I have a definite plot in mind. I don't always know how the characters will get from the beginning to the end, but I have a general idea where the story is ultimately headed.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Places inspire me. I love to travel and experience the ambiance of various cities and towns, as well as parks and other wilderness areas. I'm also intrigued by sacred grounds, ancient buildings and historical sites.

What do you want the readers to get out of reading your book? 

Entertainment. Escape. Those are the biggest reasons I love to read. Every time I finish a good story I feel so amazed and grateful to the author. Those feelings of awe and gratitude are what spurred me to start writing. I want to give back. I want to provide others with the same enjoyment I've found in books.

About The Book

Title: Soulshifter
Author: Barbara Pietron
Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Format: Paperback - 290 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0991602124
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Book Description:

Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood knew exactly what he wanted. Until he got it. Jack was content to stay unnoticed by pretty and popular track star, Natalie Segetich, until her best friend Emma disappears. Natalie swears something took Emma, and though most people write Natalie off as traumatized and confused, Jack is a soulshifter and he knows the human-stealing Enuuki—hell's messengers—are real. As a soulshifter, Jack can cross into the underworld so he sees Emma's rescue as an opportunity to prove himself a valuable member of his transcendental sect—and a way to secure a future otherwise out of his reach. Although he needs Natalie's help to prepare for the mission, Jack intends to go to the underworld alone. But as a viable plan takes shape, it's clear the best chance of success means Natalie must accompany him. On the eve of the quest, when Jack is promised the hand of a respected elder's daughter—a dream come true—he realizes he's no longer sure what he wants. But it's too late to back out, not with the sect and Natalie counting on him. Pursued by the dark lord's henchmen and ghastly mutant creatures, Jack and Natalie struggle to come out ahead in a battle and barter for souls. In the end, Jack will have to decide his own fate, because nothing short of a deal with the devil will get all three of them out of hell alive.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1
Revelations from the Dark Realm

Feedback shrieked from the electric guitar amp, annihilating the harmonious blend of drums, bass guitar and electric piano. Jack winced as he fumbled for the volume knob on his guitar, pretending he didn’t see Tommy, the lead singer, shoot him a furious glare. Head down, Jack concentrated on the next few chord progressions, until Tommy launched into his signature vocal screaming. Then Jack stole a glance to his left and caught the eye of his best friend, Wes, who skillfully delivered the pulse of the track on his bass guitar. Wes lifted his eyebrows and Jack answered with a slight shrug and an apologetic frown.
It was one thing if Jack screwed up this opportunity for himself, but Wes had talked the band into giving Jack a chance this summer when they'd lost their lead guitarist to college. Jack didn't want to embarrass Wes, or give Tommy a reason to give his friend a hard time. The singer hadn't wanted Wes in the band either, but when the other members heard Wes play and realized he was a wizard on the bass guitar, Tommy had been out-voted. It had taken two years for Wes to earn the lead singer's grudging respect and Jack hated to mess that up.
They finished the set and Jack ducked out of his guitar strap, leaning the instrument against the cinderblock wall of Fletch's—the drummer's—basement. He ran both hands through his thick curls, for the first time thankful that his mom had insisted he get a haircut before school started. Shoulder-length for most of the summer, his dark brown mane was now tamed to a mass of loose curls that ended at the base of his jaw—not as rock and roll, but certainly cooler.
He turned and nearly collided with Tommy. "What's up with the feedback, Ironwood? We've got a gig in two days!"
"Sorry, man." Jack shook his head. He noticed John, the keyboardist, give him and Tommy a wide berth as he beat a hasty retreat. "Just having an off day. I'm low on sleep."
"Well you better get it together by Monday. A lot of people come out to the park on Labor Day, and we don't need you making the rest of us look like amateurs." He spun on his heel and stomped up the steps before Jack could reply.
Fletch offered Jack a sports drink. "You've been playing good all summer. Just don't choke when you get on stage." He laughed, but his eyes were serious.
"Thanks." Jack took the plastic bottle and cracked the lid open. "I'll be fine. I promise." He took a long drink, letting the slightly salty, citrusy liquid soothe his dry tongue and throat before bending to put his guitar into its case.
An intermittent chink of metal on metal sounded from the base of the stairwell. "Ready?"
Jack glanced up to see Wes tossing a bundle of keys into the air and then catching them. "Yep." He noticed that Wes had decided to leave his guitar at Fletch's. They were going to rehearse again tomorrow, but Jack felt like he ought to go home and get in some extra practice. He followed his friend out to the minivan, which smelled like the burgers and fries they'd eaten on the way to rehearsal, and loaded his gear into the back.
After Jack plopped into the passenger seat and closed the door, Wes spoke up. "Dude." He drew out the solitary word and added a sigh, conveying both disappointment and sympathy.
"I know," Jack said quickly. "I'm not a hundred percent today. Yesterday was my end-of-summer spirit-walk."

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About The Author

After years in the corporate world, Barbara Pietron found herself with a second chance to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her lifetime love of books and the written word returned one answer: writer. Drawing from her technical writing experience, she began by writing non-fiction magazine pieces and achieved both regional and national publication before trying her hand at her true passion, fiction. In addition to Soulshifter, Barbara is also the author of Thunderstone, Book One of the Legacy in Legend series and a prequel to ThunderstoneHeart of Ice, is available in e-book format. Book Two of the Legacy in Legend series is slated for fall of 2016. You can visit Barbara's website at

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