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Q&A with Yara Gharios - Shadow Gaze



By Eva Frederiksen


We are excited to welcome Yara Gharios to The Reading Corner to talk about her new release, Shadow Gaze, released on the 19th of September 2023.


After months of captivity, Silver ran away from the evil vamphyr that had turned and imprisoned her. Shedding her old identity, she went into hiding and spent years in training. Knowing full well that her old Master has been looking for her, she has been preparing herself for the day when she would go back to her old prison and carry out her revenge.


However, nothing in the world could have prepared Silver for the hybrid and the human that were forced into her life one day. The hybrid, Adam, could report her back to her old Master at any time, but their shared history puts them on the same side—for now. Tolerating the human, on the other hand, presents a huge challenge.


Bubbly, energetic, and raging with excitement about everything supernatural that she discovers, Theresa has the complete opposite reaction a normal human should have to the secret world of vamphyrs, werewolves, and skinwalkers. At first, Silver was intent on keeping the girl safe, since she made it her life's mission to protect humans. But the girl's overactive imagination and string of never ending questions are a constant headache and keep derailing Silver's plans.


Nevertheless, no matter how much Theresa pesters her, the one thing Silver will never reveal to anyone, least of all her two unwanted stowaways, is the secret behind her having silver pearls for eyes.



Hi Yara! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to The Reading Corner about your journey as a writer and your fabulous new release, Shadow Gaze!


Thank you so much for having me! I’m honoured and super excited to be here!


Much like your earlier Masked SheWolf trilogy, Shadow Gaze offers a fresh, original take on the supernatural. What is it about this sub-genre of fantasy that keeps inspiring your storytelling in new and exciting ways?


When I first got the idea for Silver’s story and wrote the initial outline, which was over a decade ago, I was reading a lot of vampire stories on online reading platforms (that was well before my Wattpad days, but the platforms were alike). These vampire stories had similar settings to the estate Silver ran away from, but the story never deviated from that setting, and it was romanticised so that the head vampire in charge fell in love with the female protagonist and changed everything about his ruling system for the better because of his love for her. I wanted to change that scenario and see what would happen if she ran away instead.


Plus, books of any genre are constantly evolving and finding fresh new ways to rehash the same stories; it’s inevitable with the development of human civilization, the advancements we keep making in the fields of science and technology, and the way societies change and evolve. So I was curious to see how a fantasy world would hold up in a modern setting, and that’s part of where the idea came from.


In Shadow Gaze, Silver’s strength makes her a formidable protagonist, but what is so compelling is the flipside of her power – the pain that is inextricably linked to her supernatural abilities, and the emotional impact of her independent nature. How did you find the process of developing Silver as a character, particularly in relation to her flaws and supernatural limitations?


(SPOILER ALERT)

When I first started the story, I didn’t know about Silver’s power-based addiction to technology; I just knew I wanted electricity to be something that could interact with and perhaps even fuel her powers. Her weakness in that regard became clear only after the episodical format was set. I was way past episode 6 by that point, so I had to go back and rewrite the parts of the story where this might come into play. It forced me to remove and add plotlines (even a whole episode) in between, just to make sure the story still makes sense and the pacing isn’t interrupted. But I’m really happy I made that change because it added another layer to Silver’s character and gave the story a lot more depth.


When it comes to her personal flaws, I also knew going in that she was going to be headstrong and fiercely independent; she had to be, given her circumstances. Those traits can often lead to stubbornness, and if a stubborn character has formidable powers like mind control and telekinesis, they get used to having their way most of the time. That’s most definitely the case with Silver, and it led to some of her main character flaws; her inability to work with others sometimes, her need to be in charge, even her refusal to get attached to people just because she was so single-mindedly focused on one goal.


But it also led to the hilarious interactions with Theresa, who is her polar opposite in almost every way, and the power-play moments with Adam, and it’s thanks to those two that she is able to mellow out somewhat.


In contrast to Silver, Theresa is quick to trust and fizzing with unpredictable energy. I loved that her openness and unstoppable curiosity come across as a strength – rather than the weakness Silver believes them to be – and it’s so wonderful to see how the pair’s dynamic changes each of them over time. Where did your idea for Theresa spring from?


Theresa is basically a manifestation of my reader self, as vain as that might sound. She asks the questions and makes the observations that I would make whenever I read fantasy stories, specifically romantacy because Theresa is definitely the kind of person that would romanticise what she reads and apply those to real life.


Of course, in actual life-or-death situations, I wouldn’t be as careless or casual as she is, but her character is a lot more childlike and innocent than I am. She’s 18, but she’s been sheltered a lot during her life, so she’s very much still a child.


You started your writing career very young, having written full novels by the age of eleven. How has your relationship with writing changed and grown over the course of your career? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors, especially those considering the self-publishing route?


Writing was nothing more than an escape form at first. I was a pantser through and through (term for someone who writes without plotting or planning ahead) so I’d start with any premise that caught my fancy and would let the characters run wild like I was the one reading the story, and I’d discover the twists and turns as they unfolded. Things didn’t always make sense, but when they did, it was a rush! With time, as I started thinking about writing as a more serious pursuits, though that never took away from my enjoyment, I became somewhere between pantsing and planning, because I wanted my stories to have more of an emotional impact and I wanted to be intentional with it.


My advice for aspiring writers is to find the method that works for you. There really are no rules when it comes to writing, only guidelines of what worked for other authors before you. But what worked for them may not work for you, just as you might also be able to succeed with a method that they failed at. Find your own rhythm and drive for doing this because your audience is more likely to gravitate toward that authenticity. And if you’re going the self-publishing route, don’t let anyone convince you that this isn’t a real path to being an author. Whether you end up on this path intentionally or because trad pub didn’t pan out, you’re still just as much of an author and just as deserving.


As a writer who loves to travel, you must be familiar with a wealth of potential settings for your stories to unfold in. How did you settle on the United States and Arizona as the ideal context for the plot of Shadow Gaze?


I’ve always felt a deep connection with western culture and values just as much as my own, and that’s what I’m used to consuming in terms of storytelling in general anyway. Someday, I’d like to write a story that represents my motherland and native culture, but I don’t feel ready to do that just yet.


As for why I picked Arizona specifically, something about the Sonoran Desert felt like an intriguing area for the story to at least be close to. It’s a really beautiful place, but more than that, the paradox of sun-burdened vampires living in a hot and dry area seemed impossible on paper, and I wanted to explore that. But I also didn’t want to go so far South of the Sonoran Desert that there wouldn’t be a different type of climate, and I also didn’t want to set the story in California just because I kind of wanted a non-coastal state, to kind of reinforce the sense of entrapment Shiloh would have felt in the past timeline. I almost went with New Mexico or Nevada, but by that point, I had grown attached to the idea of the sanctuary being located in the Sonoran Desert, so I stuck with Arizona.


Shadow Gaze is written as a series of ‘episodes’ reminiscent of a television series. What is it about the story of Shadow Gaze that you feel lends itself so well to an episodic format?


Initially, the story was going to be a single book, a traditional fantasy. But along the way, things unfolded a little differently in that there seemed to be a mini-plot every 4 or 5 chapters. I thought about it, and that’s when the episodical format came to mind. I was intrigued about how I could combine the fantasy genre in general with something like procedural shows or other types of TV series where modern technology plays a significant role.


That’s a big part of why it might work so well in that format, I believe. There’s so much modernity to the setting, and it’s so intricately woven into the plot that it would be hard not to deviate off course and end up on little side-quests, so to speak. Another factor would be the two main timelines in the series and how far apart they are; there’s too many blanks to fill, too many different events that would have unfolded in between, to compact them all into a book or even book series. They needed to be cut up into little, self-contained arcs.


But even with that, I didn’t want the modern setting (or Silver’s thing with technology) to be a main driving force behind the series; at the heart of every story I’ve ever written or wanted to write, the relationship between characters is always my main objective, the meat of the story, if you will. So even though the series is very much an exploration in genre and format, the dynamics between my main three characters, Silver, Adam, and Theresa, is the true heart of it all.


What books would you recommend to fans of your work?


The first titles that come to mind are Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows and Sue Lynn Tan’s Daughter of the Moon Goddess. DotMG has a similar feel in terms of story structure. In my head, that book is a 9-episode first season that spans 3 different story arcs. Even though it’s a whole different sub-genre of fantasy than Shadow Gaze, and it has much more fantastic mythology than I could have written, that episodical feel is very present, and it was a huge inspiration for me while writing Silver’s story. As for SoC, that’s one of my all-time favourite books, and it had a huge impact on Shadow Gaze. I will go to my grave recommending this book.

And finally, where can we pick up a copy of Shadow Gaze?


Shadow Gaze is exclusively available on Kindle and in print on Amazon. The individual 3 episodes are available in digital format on a multitude on online platforms, like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Apple Books, and Scribd, but the bonus episode is only available with Shadow Gaze.

Yara Gharios Bio: First and foremost, I’m from Lebanon. Mainly, I write fantasy and romance, but I have an interest in screenwriting too, so that’s something I’m also working on right now, on the side.


I was always interested in storytelling. Even before I started writing, I was that kid who was constantly daydreaming. From the age of 8, I even carried around a backpack where I stored all my “story” notebooks, just in case I needed to write or maybe even show a publisher my work. (8-year-old me thought very highly of her talent). Fast forward a decade or so, I found out about this thing called self-publishing, and that was a huge lightbulb moment. That’s what I’ve been doing since 2014 and I am just absolutely in love with it!

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