Marta Stahlfeld has authored and published “Darkwoods,” a 275-page book that is the first in a new epic fantasy series for teens and preteens.
Marta will be holding a local book signing also, on Saturday, June 18th from 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Burien Books, located at 824 SW 152nd Street.
Like many other popular teen series, all the characters in Darkwoods are animals, though they display very human-like strengths and weaknesses. “Darkwoods” is available at local bookstores, including Barnes & Noble locations, and is also available in print and eBook versions online.
“I have always loved fantastic stories,” Stahlfeld said. “Reading for me is a way to travel to different worlds and different times, and to have adventures I could never have on my own. If my stories can hook another kid on reading like I got hooked, that would be great!”
Marta Stahlfeld, 17, Author
Stahlfeld has already completed the next book in the series. “I’ve outlined six books, but I really like the characters, so there may be more,” laughs Stahlfeld.
The series begins with the Foxes leaving their home in Darkwoods, determined to conquer the world. Standing in their way is Princess Zuryzel of the Wraith Mice, with the ability to fade undetected into the shadows, and her allies among the Squirrel Tribes, Ranger Mice, and River Otters.
Like any good epic tale, Darkwoods includes battles, romance, and treachery, as well as the heroism necessary to defeat evil. But Stahlfeld was careful to craft her tale without gory battle details or language inappropriate for her audience. “Good books don’t need that kind of thing,” says Stahlfeld.
Interested readers can learn more about Stahlfeld and also sample the first five chapters of “Darkwoods” at www.DarkwoodsBooks.com. Stahlfeld can be contacted at DarkwoodsBooks at AOL.com, and on Facebook on the DarkwoodsBooks fan page here.
In addition to print copies available at Barnes & Noble locations and other bookstores, “Darkwoods” is available in print and eBook formats at Amazon.com, BN.com, and in all eBook formats at Smashwords.com, the leading distributor of eBooks for authors.
Stahlfeld just finished her junior year in high school and plans on majoring in English Literature or History when she starts college in 18 months. She is a voracious reader and has long been fascinated with WWII history. In fact, the Ranger Mice of “Darkwoods” were inspired by the U.S. Army Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc on D-Day, which she visted on the 4th of July. It was shortly after that day when she began writing “Darkwoods.”
We conducted the following interview with Marta via email:
Q: What high school do you go to?
A: I actually attend a private Lutheran high school in Des Moines, Evergreen Lutheran High School. I just finished up my last final of my Junior year last Friday, and have one more year to go. Before that, I attended Seattle Christian Schools in SeaTac.
Q: Do you still live here?
A: Yes, we live in the Shorewood area, in north Burien. We’ve lived here in the same house all my life. Both my parents are attorneys. My dad has his own office in Burien (Eric Stahlfeld), and my mother works in downtown Seattle. I have a younger brother, Karl, who is just finishing up 8th grade at Seattle Christian Schools. He plays baseball for RIPS Brewers (Des Moines Memorial Drive) and also plays the bagpipes – you can probably hear him at your offices when he practices, they are VERY loud. We also have a cat — Leonidas, or Leo for short.
Q: Were there any teachers in particular who helped you out?
A: Susan Seig, my Language Arts teacher at Seattle Christian, and Cheryl Knight, the secondary school librarian for Seattle Christian, both helped my in early editing of the book and were very encouraging to me.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: When I was seven years old, I won a blank book in a bean bag toss at a neighborhood festival. I was kind of disgusted at first — it didn’t seem like much of a prize to me! But my mom challenged me to write a story in it, and so I did. That’s the first story I remember writing, and I wrote short stories in it and other blank books or notebooks on and off over the years after that.
I started writing Darkwoods when I was 12. I have the next book in the series done and ready for editing (title: Pasadagavra), and I’m working on the third book now (working title: Graystone). I also have other stories I’m working on.
Q: What inspired this book?
A: In 2006, my family took a trip to Europe. During some of the down time while traveling (sitting on planes, trains, etc.), the vague idea of a story of quiet little animals defending themselves against attacking animals rolled around in my head. But it wasn’t until we visited the Normandy Beaches on the 4th of July that I began getting some concrete ideas for the characters. The first place on the tour that we stopped at was Pointe du Hoc where the U.S. Army Rangers scaled that huge cliff, under fire, and then fought when they reached the top. I was amazed as I listened to the guide telling us what happened and looking down that cliff! How could anyone do that? But as we continued in the tour and learned more about what happened there on D-Day, I thought about it and I realized that people can do impossible things when they have to, and they can rise to be leaders when the need is there. That’s where I got the inspiration for my Ranger Mice characters — they are well-trained warriors because they have to be, but they are also brave and come to help the other creatures defend their home from the foxes because they know its the right thing to do. When we got home from the trip, I began writing down the story.
My Ranger Mice characters are not, of course, really like the amazing U.S. Army Rangers who scaled Pointe du Hoc – they are just characters in a book. But I did try to capture the bravery and dedication of the U.S. Army Rangers in my story.
Why animal characters? I had read a lot of Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series, and enjoyed his animal characters. Its fun to write about the characters as if they are human then throw in a phrase like, “On the other paw,…”
Q: What authors inspire you?
A: Brian Jacques (Redwall series), Erin Hunter (Warrior series), J.R.R. Tolkein (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), and of course, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series — in fact, I’m rereading those books now.
I would also have to say that knowing that Christopher Paolini wrote and published Eragon when he was younger than 18 years old helped me realize that just because I was a teenager, there was no reason I couldn’t get my book finished and published, too.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Immediately? The dance performances for Momentum Dance Academy on Friday — I do Irish, Contemporary, and Jazz dance. I’m also visiting bookstores this summer to set up book signing dates.
In writing, I need to get Pasadagavra edited and then published, and otherwise keep working on the next books in the series.
Otherwise, I’m going to finish up high school next year and head off to college. My primary career goal is to be a novelist, but I am also interested in teaching — sharing with teens and/or preteens, either through books or school or whatever, is something I really enjoy. I’ve been tutoring a fifth grade student this year, and that has been very rewarding. I plan to major in English Literature or History in college, and then get an advanced degree for teaching.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: I want to really encourage kids to read. If a kid doesn’t like fantasy books like mine, that’s okay, there are lots of other kinds of books out there for kids at all age levels. Books open up the world (or in some cases other worlds!) for the reader and can help the reader learn about other places, what motivates people, etc. And sometimes it just provides a fun escape from boredom on a rainy day, a not uncommon occurence around here…. Books may take a little more work than video games or movies (both of which I also like) because you have to use your imagination more, but that’s what makes them so great: you get to imagine what a character looks like, and the buildings, etc. A good book is like a friend that you can revisit over and over again.
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