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  • Writer's pictureBrandie June

Interview With Author H. J. Reynolds

I was lucky to blurb H. J. Reynolds’ new fantasy novel, Without a Shadow. And it was a delight! H. J. created a vivid new fantasy with lush world building, cunning characters, and hang-on-to-you-seat action. Fans of Holly Black’s Book Of Night will devour this magical adventure. I recently chatted with H. J. Reynolds about her new book, shadow magic, writing tips, and more! 

author H. J. Reynolds with her new book Without a Shadow
Author H. J. Reynolds

What is the premise of Without a Shadow?

Without a Shadow is a YA Fantasy set in a desert city and follows Adlai, a thief who steals with the slip of her shadow. But when one of her marks turns out to be a killer, she becomes his next target. Granted by a god of Death, she soon discovers that her shadow is a gift worth killing for…I love the concept of shadow magic.

What inspired you to use this kind of magic?

I’ve always found shadows fascinating. Whether it was reading about Wendy sewing Peter Pan’s shadow back on, or a monster being revealed by the shadow they cast. In fiction there are so many ways shadows add to the magic of the world and I think the same is true in the real world. Shadows are weird. Shadows move, they follow you, get fainter and darker, split into multiples, grow long and short. They’re creepy and add to the very overactive imagination of a child. So I wanted to write a story where shadows are part of our main character’s sense of wonderment as a child, but turn into something with an edge of danger as she grows up. An uncontrollable force.

What was your process for writing Without a Shadow?

Long! I started writing this novel back in 2016 and I wrote a large chunk of it for my Creative Writing Masters’ dissertation in 2017, and then I stopped all work on it until December 2020 when I decided to merge it with another novel idea I had. This completely changed the plot of the story. Adlai was still the main character but the people around her were completely different and the shadow magic really evolved. My outline was still changing as I drafted, and the editing process changed it even more, but merging those two novel ideas really propelled me to the finish line for writing this book.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Look back on your old story ideas. Especially the novels you never finished as sometimes taking a few years off from that one idea that didn’t work at the time is needed, and when you look at it again you might be able to see what you couldn’t before to fix it. Every new story you write gives you experience, and that experience can help shape those old stories into the fire you hoped they would be from that first spark.

And what would you do if you had shadow powers?

Honestly, I’d steal with them. Not like diamonds or anything I’m supposed to pay for legally, but I’d live out my lazy life and if the TV remote was a bit out of reach – bam – shadow power it into my hand. Or if my husband’s trying to give me the smaller slice of cake – bam – both slices are mine now.

Where can people order your books?

Without a Shadow is available for pre-order over at CamCat BooksBarnes & NoblesAmazon, Waterstones and wherever books are sold!

Where’s the best place to follow you?

I’m the most active on Instagram, hjrey_is_reading and I also have a website where I post updates on Without a Shadow, have short stories available to read, some writing advice, lots of book reviews, and I’ve recently started a monthly newsletter.

Without a Shadow by H. J. Reynolds

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