Worlds created as a child turn into novel series for local author
TWINSBURG – A story a Twinsburg High School graduate started as a child has hit the shelves as the first novel in a planned series.
“Awakening Shadows,” the first in a series of fantasy novels, came out in late September.
“As a child, I was constantly bullied,” said Rissa Durbin, who took the pen name as Sydney Hawthorn. “So essentially Navarre, the realm in which 'Awakening Shadows' takes place, was a world 8-year-old me created to go on adventures with my imaginary friends rather than hanging around people who bullied me. When I was about 12 was when I decided to get serious about writing an actual story involving these adventures, and so, the first draft, a very horrible first draft, of 'Awakening Shadows' was born.”
Durbin,graduated from Twinsburg High School in 2012 and has earned her associate of arts at Kent State University, She currently lives in Streetsboro. Durbin said she “started getting serious about publishing about three years ago."
“I started doing research about what route of publishing I wanted to go, traditional versus self-published, and how I wanted to go about it,” Durbin said. “In 2019, I decided to self-publish, opened Lilac Daggers Press LLC, and since then have served as author, editor, marketer, and manager of my own company.”
In “Awakening Shadows,” the first of five planned books, Princess Joseline’s kingdom is attacked on her 18th birthday by a legendary demon king. She is saved by a secret organization of warriors trained to protect her. Swept into the impending war threatening her country, Joseline must learn at all costs not only to fight, but to control the ancient magical power awakening within her.
“'Awakening Shadows,' and the whole series in general, is more than the story of a princess saving her kingdom from darkness,” Durbin said. “It's about finding yourself and realizing whether you believe it or not, you are strong enough and always will be. As Winnie the Pooh says, ‘You are braver than you than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.’”
For those who have read the first book and are eager for the second installment, they may not have long to wait. Durbin said that “Whispering Shadows” is due to be released this summer.
“I'm also working on several prequel stories and short stories within the Navarre universe, as well as some other completely separate stories,” Durbin said.
Durbin said the publishing process can be a long one, and there’s no one right path to get published.
“Sure, there are general guidelines you should follow, but what works for one person's marketing might not work for you,” Durbin said. “Some platforms are great for some people but not for others. Some people have more extra funds to spend on things like merchandise. Each journey is different, and it doesn't mean you're doing something wrong or you aren't good enough.”
“Awakening Shadows” can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and several other retailers such as The Learned Owl in Hudson. Durbin said she also has merchandise and signed copies of her book available on her website, www.worldofsydneyhawthorn.com.
Durbin said that reviews are important for authors.
“If you've read 'Awakening Shadows,' or intend to, please don't forget to leave a review,” Durbin said. “As a self-published author, reviews are so important to get exposure. Even adding 'Awakening Shadows' to your ‘want to read’ list on Goodreads or your Amazon wish-list is extremely helpful. Word of mouth is the best for publicity when it comes to smaller businesses.”
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org