Are you still looking for a perfect gift to give the YA or fantasy reader in your life? There are lots of books we could recommend, but I’d like to share one that you might not have had the chance to hear about… and it totally deserves some attention!
The book The WishKeeper by Maximilian Timm is a unique fantasy read with a one-of-a-kind heroine named Shea. You will get lost in Shea’s world and her quest to become the one thing she desires to be, a WishKeeper.
The first thing that will grab you is the cover:
Just from this cover, I was completely in love with Shea and her world. Her awesome tattoos and flaming red hair instantly made me want to hear her story. Then after reading the description, I knew I had to have this book:
The WishKeeper tells the story of a fairy named Shea and how her broken wings and inability to fly have kept her from being the one thing she always wanted to be – a WishKeeper.
We, WishMakers, all have a WishKeeper assigned to us that protects and guides our wishes to fulfillment. Teenage, broken-winged Shea is determined to become one.
Shea is a rebellious, punk rock dressed, tattooed teenage fairy with two mangled wings that draw ugly stares more often than sympathy. She is not looking for sympathy though, and would rather break a WishKeeper’s pointed nose than accept an understanding pat on her handicapped back. Living with her disability for most of her angry life has kept Shea out of the Keeper force and therefore a loner (which she is perfectly fine with…or so she says). Until the day her family WishMakers, Grayson and Miranda, made a second True Love Wish, she was barely a blip on a WishRadar. The last time a True Love Wish was made, her mother destroyed it and in turn, Shea’s life.
All Shea wants is to prove herself – despite her disability, despite her anger, resentment and the all-too obvious chips on her shoulders – that she can be better than any WishKeeper. She sneaks off to the human world with the naive intent to wrangle a type of wish even the most skilled Keeper barely can. She’s entitled, selfish, and has only one intention: wrangle a True Love Wish no matter the consequence.
Further annoying her, a WishKeeper recruit named Thane is tasked by her military father to babysit her, or at least that’s how Shea sees it. Through their impossible adventure in a land Shea had only ever dreamed about, she battles the difficult discovery of painful family secrets, a wish-mongering ex-king and his cursed zombie-like fairies, and the acceptance of her parents’ imperfections as well as her own.
I had never read a book quite like The WishKeeper before, so I was curious about the story behind the book and its author Maximilian Timm. Max was born in the Midwest, but currently resides in California and works in the movie industry (how awesome!) with screenwriters as the Director of Community Outreach with The International Screenwriters’ Association (ISA). I was lucky enough to get to chat with Max, and he let me pick his talented writing brain about The WishKeeper to share with the Midwest Ladies Who Lit readers. 🙂
Author Interview with Maximilian Timm
Where did the initial idea for WishKeeper come from?
It has been an evolution of an idea for about a decade. I first intended to write a screenplay adaptation of the popular 80’s PC series of games called King’s Quest. I fell in love those games as a kid, and when I moved to Los Angeles in 2002, I set out to write a script and see if I could get it sold. To make a long story short, it didn’t sell – not even close. But what came of that venture was a kernel of a story idea that revolved around a lost prince from a fairytale and folktale land called Paragonia. That prince’s name was Grayson (and if you’ve read The WishKeeper, that is I’m sure, familiar). The initial drafts of the new, non-King’s Quest story, had nothing to do with wishes or fairies at all! But as the rewrites continued, I added a little redheaded fairy with a chipped wing named Shea. Her voice eventually became so loud, I rewrote the story once again and revolved the entire adventure around her. Much later my approach to the wishing process, the wishing world, Erebus, the True Love Wish, and everything else in the current version of the story finally came to be. It was quite an adventure of my own, and it was a lot of fun having Shea long the for the ride.
The theme of overcoming obstacles, whether it be a handicap or lack of acceptance, plays a huge role in Shea’s story. Why were these ideas important to you as a writer?
I don’t tend to write with a theme-first approach as some writers do. I have all of the respect in the world when storytellers have a message they intend to send and then build an amazing world around the delivery of that message. I knew that I wanted to make Shea’s pursuit of her goal as difficult as possible, and while brainstorming – well before the actual page writing occurred – I imagined how difficult it must be to want to achieve something quite monumental, but then also have so many physical and emotional obstacles piled on top of the already-challenging adventure that awaits. As I brainstormed, I realized that, well, that’s life! Life can be really hard sometimes and there is no need to sugarcoat it. Shea was dealt a tough hand, but we’re all dealt with imperfect lives and we all have to do what we can to not just deal with what is given to us, but learn how to use it to our advantage. I remember as a teenager trying to figure out how to simply make it through high school without failing miserably at everything I attempted, and it felt like life just kept getting harder and harder. I’m lucky in that I didn’t have a physical handicap to also overcome. I’m lucky because I had a strong and loving family unit. And I’m lucky that I had (and have) advantages a lot of kids don’t have, so I wanted to test myself as a writer and dive into the shoes of a handicapped teenage girl (who happens to be five inches tall with shredded wings) and experience that difficulty right alongside her. Shea has shown me how to be more than I believe I can be, and I wish I had the same courage as her. Hopefully in my presentation of Shea, teenagers will be able to relate, learn how to face their personal obstacles and to make the most of them every step of the way.
As well as being an author, you work in the movie/entertainment industry. Would it be a dream come true to see Shea come to life on the big screen? Is a screenplay something you’d dabble with?
Absolutely! Because I work in the entertainment industry and help screenwriters launch their careers, I know how difficult it is to get a movie or TV show made. It’s extremely difficult and nothing short of a miracle, really. But yes, I’ve had it in the back of my head to see if I can find a way to put a cinematic version of The WishKeeper out into the world. I wrote 12 drafts of the story as a script first, but most of the notes that I received told me that the script needed source material (to be based on something like a book or comic book), so took the final draft of the script and turned it into the book we know today. It was a terribly freeing process. A lot of the characters in the book were not in the script version, Avery being one of them. Don’t tell Shea this, but Avery is my favorite character in the story and there is a lot more to come in books two and three where she is concerned. To directly answer your questions, though, yes it would of course be a dream come true to see Shea’s story on the big screen.
What are some of your favorite books to recommend to your readers? What authors do you draw inspiration from?
So many. It’s difficult to list them all, but there are the obvious ones like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Rowling’s Potter series. I was virtually raised on Tolkien and Arthurian legend (my middle name is Arthur), so I was entrenched in the minds of the masters pretty early on. The issue there, though, is that writers like Tolkien were nearly too smart for their own good. Building a world as intricate and massive as his Lord of the Rings is something no writer should ever aspire to unless their IQ and level of genius can match that of a Tolkien. I tried, believe me, and what is in the book now is just a fraction of how big the world originally was when I started. It just all became way too much for me to manage in my little brain. As far as books that helped define me as a writer other than Tolkien, though, I would have to go back to Twain’s Tom Sawyer. He opened my eyes to adventure and launched me on my own storytelling dreams. James Howe’s middle grade series, Bunnicula is a classic and I gobbled those up as a kid. Most recently, I read the epic fantasy, The Name of The Wind, by Patrick Rothfus (a fellow Wisconsin native). It is, hands down, the most amazing piece of fantasy I’ve read since Tolkien and in a lot of ways does even more than what the amazing professor did. If you haven’t read The Name of the Wind (and its sequel, Wise Man’s Fear), you’re missing out.
WishKeeper is “book one”… what is next for Shea’s story?
You’re angling for some spoilers! I like it. I don’t want to give too much away, but the next book in the series will be titled The WishMaker. The third and final book in the trilogy will be titled The WishingKing. I’m deep in the writing phase of The WishMaker right now, and since I did divulge the premise on my book’s Facebook page, I can tell you that Shea’s story turns quite dark in the sequel. It’s two years after the end of the first book and Paragonia is thriving, but when Erebus (yes, he is still around in a very big way) kidnaps the daughter of Grayson and Miranda, our heroes must face their darkest fears. There is also a fairy rebellion in the works. With those two plots occurring simultaneously, our heroes get split up. It’s a bit darker than the first book, and I’m having a lot of fun writing it. As far as Shea is concerned, she goes through quite the transformation and really comes into her own. That’s all I’ll say for now, though!
Lastly, just like us Midwest Ladies, you were also raised in the midwest! Can you share some of your favorite “midwestern” things with our readers?
What I didn’t realize for so many years was how quiet the world actually is! I know that sounds odd, but I’ve lived in Los Angeles since 2002 and every time I go back home to visit friends and family, I’m reminded of the serenity and how much I took it for granted growing up. LA is so loud, just like any other major city, and even though I didn’t know it as a kid, there was so much ease and peace living among the farmlands and parks and open fields. I really miss that, and a lot of Paragonia is based on how easy and relaxed my little Wisconsin world was when I was growing up. But as far as my favorite midwestern things, it’s a combination of so many. The first Spring thaw when it’s 50 degrees and everyone is outside wearing shorts and t-shirts, riding bikes, and golfing amid the melting snow mounds. When the 4th of July comes around and it feels like the whole world is partying and enjoying life together on a daily basis. Those August nights when my friends and I play baseball for as long as there is daylight. By the time October rolls in, the leaves are changing and there is a smell in the air that can only be described as nature getting ready for bed. The irony is that all of this was normal and went unrecognized when I was growing up. Only until I left and lived in a smogy city with a constant temperature of 75 degrees did I understand how lucky I was to grow up in such a wonderful place.
A huge thank you to Max for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions (and I agree with the Patrick Rothfuss recommendation too… such great books)! I am dying to read the next chapter of Shea’s story, and guess what… I have a sneak peek of what book two, The WishMaker, will be about! (Haha!! Angling for spoilers does pay off!)
Summer really isn’t that far away, is it (I say this as Wisconsin is being hit with 8 inches of snow…)? I know that readers will love The WishKeeper and am honored that I get to help spread the word about this incredible read. The WishKeeper is available in print and e-book format, and, the good news is, there is still time to order a copy before the holidays!
Links to buy The WishKeeper:
I can’t wait to hear what people think of this outstanding read! Have a lovely weekend and if you’re being pummeled with snow, take the opportunity to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee! -Holly