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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Recommended Books to Read: The Portal Keeper by S.T. Sanchez

Wondering ‘What should I read next?’ Looking for the best books to read? Need book recommendations? Read The Portal Keeper by S.T. Sanchez.

A mysterious portal, which opens at dawn and closes again at dusk, is located deep in the woods and kept secret from the vast majority of the people who inhabit the kingdom of Rastella. Only a few are aware of its existence and fewer understand the confusing prophecy that accompanies it.

Now, Ajax Maxwell, who is approaching his 17th birthday and has been in training for the past 4 years, is preparing to fulfill his family’s legacy by becoming the next keeper.
But Ajax is afraid. He’s worried that he won’t live up to the expectations placed upon him and will let down his family, like his brother Axel did when he took over from their father and then promptly disappeared.

When the prince of Rastella comes to visit for the first time, accompanied by Ajax’s childhood friend Nivara, it doesn’t take long for things to go wrong. In an accident, the prince falls into the portal and Ajax knows that it’s up to him to go and get him back.


With the knowledge that nobody who has entered it has ever returned, Ajax and Nivara go through the portal to try to save the prince. But what Ajax finds inside, and what he discovers about the prophecy, will test him to his limits.


Interview with the Author: S.T. Sanchez

I had the opportunity to interview S. T. Sanchez, author of The Portal Keeper, and ask her a few questions about her writing.

How long have you been writing?

I have dabbled here and there, but I didn't really get serious until about two years ago.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, my grammar isn't the greatest so I didn't really think it was in the cards for me, but as I got older I realized as long as I found a fantastic editor, I could write.

How do you come up with your ideas for stories?

I have a lot of ideas swirling around in my head.  Some have come from unanswered questions in other movies or books I have seen.  The Portal Keeper came from me wanting to write a book my kids could enjoy.  I have previously written a YA vampire novel, Sunwalker, that ended up being too scary for my younger kids.

Do you have any other careers besides writing?

I currently work part time for a school district.  I tried a lot of jobs as a teenager and loved waiting tables.

Let’s talk more about your book, The Portal Keeper. Tell me about it:

It's a middle grade fiction fantasy novel ranging from about 4th to 8th grade.  Although anyone can enjoy it.  I enjoy a lot of middle grade fiction, such as Fablehaven and Percy Jackson.  It was just released in December, and I have been getting great feedback. 

Give us a Synopsis for the book:

  A mysterious portal, which opens at dawn and closes again at dusk, is located deep in the woods and kept secret from the vast majority of the people who inhabit the kingdom of Rastella. Only a few are aware of its existence and fewer understand the confusing prophecy that accompanies it.
   Now, Ajax Maxwell, who is approaching his 14th birthday and has been in training for the past 2 years, is preparing to fulfill his family’s legacy by becoming the next keeper.
   But Ajax is afraid. He’s worried that he won’t live up to the expectations placed upon him and will let down his family, like his brother Axel did when he took over from their father and then promptly disappeared.
   When the prince of Rastella comes to visit for the first time, accompanied by Ajax’s childhood friend Nivara, it doesn’t take long for things to go wrong. In an accident, the prince falls into the portal and Ajax knows that it’s up to him to go and get him back.
   With the knowledge that nobody who has entered it has ever returned, Ajax and Nivara go through the portal to try to save the prince. But what Ajax finds inside, and what he discovers about the prophecy, will test him to his limits.

What was the inspiration behind this story?

I wanted something that my younger kids could enjoy.  They were my first beta readers and would roll on the floor laughing as we read it together.

Tell us about your main characters:

Ajax is on the verge of turning fourteen.  He is tasked with a responsibility that was never meant to be his.  Because of this he has had to hide things from those he cares about. When he accidently causes the Prince to go through the portal, he must decide if he should go in after him.
Niv is Ajax's best friend from childhood.  She hasn't seen him in two years, and is upset by his sudden departure and then again his sudden reappearance.  She wants explanations that he cannot give her. She is hot headed and rash.
Prince Blake is a spoiled royal, who has always had everything handed to him.  He tries to befriend Ajax but it is an awkward friendship as the Prince is entitled and doesn't always see things the way a commoner would.

Which is your favorite minor character and why?

Sky.  Sky is a magical shapeshifter who has been through a lot.  Despite all his hardships, he is loyal, kind and has kept his sense of humor.  He was very fun to write too.

Your character is at a bookstore. What book is in his/her hand right now?

Lord of the Rings, while technically not a book, it's a fantastic trilogy. One any fourteen year old boy would be enthralled with.

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph:

“Let’s start by taking off the amulet.”
Ajax stepped back. “Was that your plan the whole time? Get me to take it off so you can pilfer it…or eat me?”
Nogard snorted. “You are really preoccupied with the thought of getting eaten. It is wise to be hesitant, but not very prudent given our time is limited.”
The dragon mumbled something that Ajax didn’t understand, and the amulet floated off his neck and landed around Nogard’s.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)

It's just a fun book.  I wanted to write something parents could read to their children and both enjoy. 

Let’s shift gears and talk more about your writing.

What is your favorite music to listen to while writing?

I really like Imagine Dragons at the moment.  I like Spanish Pop music, Bon Jovi, One Republic, Journey, Phillip Phillip.  I listen to quite a variety.

Have you ever named a character in honor of someone you know?

When writing more than one novel, it's hard not to use a name of someone I know.  I have thrown my kids names in for fun.  I have never based a character off of someone I know.  I did have a beta reader who happened to share the name of a character, it was funny to see how attached they became to the character.  The comments when I got the manuscript at the beginning were positive and then towards the end became quite comical, such as "Oh no I am going to be evil!"

At what moment did you feel like you could say, “NOW, I'm an author?”

Probably not until I held my first book in my hand.  Even now with my second book out, it's hard to believe sometime.

What is one of your favorite/go-to writing resources?

I don't know that I have one, but I spend a fair amount of time on Goodreads and a facebook page, LDS beta readers.  When I need advice or feedback I go there.  There are a lot of great authors out there who are great resources.

What other project are you working on now?

I am just starting to pen the outline to the 2nd book in the Keeper Chronicles.  I am also working on a younger chapter book series, and Nightwalker the sequel to Sunwalker is with my editor.

Have you always liked to write?

I hated writing for school.  Dissecting and analyzing literature is not my cup of tea.  But I found I love creative writing.

What book are you currently reading?

I am about a third of a way through Dracula.  Since I'm almost through writing my vampire trilogy, the Sunwalker Trilogy, I thought it was about time I read the first well known vampire book.

Do you write/read every single day?

Not necessarily, although I hear you should.  I try and do at least one book related thing a day.  Whether it's editing, advertising, writing.  It all depends on the day and how much free time I have.

Do you have any furry writing buddies? (Or scaled or feathered?)

I have a dog and a cat.  Thor, the cat, and I tolerate each other.  He is not warm and cuddly.  Instead he likes to nip.  So he is banned from my writing space.  I also have a small dog named Misty.  She is great, loves to just sit and snuggle.

S. T. Sanchez, thank you for joining us today and for sharing your stories and your writing experience! -Julie L. Spencer

Author Bio:
I was born in Dallas, TX. I love Texas. The weather is crazy, but the people are friendly.  I graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA of Arts in Spanish. Mexico is my second home.  My husband is from there, and I have family down there. I love the culture, the people and of course the food.  I have three wonderful children and I love hiking and spending time outdoors when I am not writing.
    Fantasy is my preferred genre to write in. There are no limits in fantasy beyond my own imagination.  Anything can happen. Sunwalker is my debut novel. It is a YA Vampire novel. The first in a trilogy. Nightwalker, book 2, is set to be released in Spring 2018.  I also just released a MG Fantasy novel entitled the Portal Keeper, in December 2017.

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