STILL RUNNING DEEP

RICH SHIFMAN COMPLETES SAVAGE SPELLS TRILOGY 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK.

So, SPOILERS ahead. If you haven’t read Savage Spells Book 1, “Everyone Leaves This Place,” and Savage Spells Book 2, “Love’s Heavy Spell,” then you should STOP reading this interview and read those two books. Book 1 has received rave reviews, including from a few dozen readers, an award-winning author, a professional review site, and Sue Naegle, the Chief Content Officer of Annapurna Pictures, a major motion picture/entertainment company. Book 2 is also well-reviewed.

 

For those who’ve read Book 1 and Book 2, let me tell you some about Savage Spells Book 3, entitled, “Still Running Deep.” The book picks up the same day Book 2 left off, March 8, 2020, with Evee Salazar and Mark Perrino split up but still thinking about each other.

 

Evee’s life is back on track: She’s assumed control of her powers and shined in her new internship. She steps into a loving relationship, but I won’t say any more about that.  But a blizzard of trouble is about to blow into town. Three evil witches surface, still conspiring to control the AI technology that will shape their dark vision of the future. 

To complicate matters, the mystical force that guides Evee’s coven instructs her to perform what seems like an unthinkably wicked act. If she can’t follow this gut-wrenching path, Evee may not be able to stave off the dark-magic witches’ plans for world domination.

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR THIS BOOK?

The title of this book, “Still Running Deep,” is a play on words that encompasses a few different meanings. It’s a play on the phrase, ‘still waters run deep,’ which means there’s much more to somebody than meets the eye—a lot going on underneath a placid surface, which has been a theme of the series. It also refers to the name of the two assisted living residences, Still Waters I in PA and Still Waters II in MA, which are replete with witches (In fact, I named the assisted living residence Still Waters in Book 1, because of this idea that there was a lot going on under the surface). The title also refers to the effects of a specific, momentous event that happens during the story (I won’t give that away). And it refers to the idea that although battles have been won in this series, the war wages on, the overall conflict is complex and challenging, and you need to be careful what steps you take to win. Last, but not least, it refers to the depth of the caring and romantic feelings that Evee and Mark maintain for each other, and where that takes them and their family. Wow, after writing all that, I’m amazed at how much is conveyed in three little words.

 

Like most titles of books and chapters, it popped into my head and felt perfect. So, I used it.

 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? IS IT PART OF A SERIES?

Well, I knew there was more to the Evee’s story after Book 1 and Book 2, because she and Mark really love each other—we see that at the end of Book 2, which was a romantic cliffhanger. They still have much room to grow and learn. And, in the mythology I created, there are five evil witch families, and we only encountered members from three families in Book 1 and Book 2. And we had not ‘met’ the head witches from three of the families. So, I needed to build that. And I wanted to build upon the nature of Evee as Queen of the Way. And what is the Way…anyway? Right? There was a lot of world building and author-splainin’ to do. And, I wanted to give an idea of how the war ends, not just the battle. It ties into a short story, “Accumulation,” which I wrote in 2013 and published in The Eunoia Review February 2019.

 

As with most of my stories, I wanted to wrap up with an ending that stayed true to my Christian beliefs, but that could be appreciated by anybody with a sense of the wondrous possibilities here on earth for humanity, from atheists to believers.

 

HOW MUCH OF YOUR BOOK IS BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES OR THOSE OF SOMEONE YOU KNOW?

So, this book travels to another city (not Philly and not Miami, although we spend a little time in Dairytown and Miami). I won’t reveal the new city, because I don’t want to ruin the fun, but it’s a city with which I’m familiar (although readers who have been paying attention could figure it out). The new city provides an alt-world setting inspired by the city where one of my children goes to college. The weird thing, I wrote this book in January-February 2020. I finished the first draft by late February 2020. The story travels to this new city from March 19th to March 21st, 2020, which was always my intention. In our world, because of COVID-19, I picked up my son from college on March 18th to bring him home, and his campus closed noon on March 20th, 2020. So…yeah, a little different.

I won’t say more, but there are some weird coincidences between Book 3 and what happens in our world (things I wrote about before they happened), similar to coincidences in Book 2. For example, in Book 2, which I wrote in November of 2019, Evee and Mark learn of Miley’s death at about 4:15PM in the afternoon on Sunday, December 8, 2019. This is the exact same date and time the world learned that the rapper, Juice WRLD had died. One of the dance mixes I mention in Book 2 includes Juice WRLD saying, “This time I won’t let you forget me,” which is from the song, Lucid Dreams. In the story, I had mentioned a couple of songs that mix in directly after that song (This is America and No Tears Left to Cry). I was going to go back and write Juice WRLD into the mentions, but I decided not to do that.

 

WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH WENT INTO WRITING YOUR BOOK?

I spoke to a chief meteorologist from NBC in Dallas-Fort Worth. My Spanish translators helped me. I spoke to a DJ about mixing beats and vocals. I won’t say why. It would spoil the fun.

 

WHAT CRITERIA DID YOU USE WHEN SELECTING THE COVER FOR YOUR BOOK?

I wanted the cover to be mystical, sparkling, evocative, and maybe a bit sexy. In many ways, I think Book 2 was about Miley; this story in Book 3 really takes it back to Evee, who, in a little over a year has been forced to mature and grow in so many ways. After all, she is the QUEEN! So, that’s Evee on the cover, and she’s sparkling with beautiful colors, surrounded by darkness (but with a blacklight on her that makes her look royal blue), and seemingly deep in thought with her eyes shut. Metaphorically speaking, in much of Book 3, Evee’s eyes are shut, because she doesn’t really “get it” until the end. The story is still mystical, but it’s also wondrous, and there is a sense of effusive joy in certain parts of the narrative. There’s some dancing (same as the first two books), but, toward the end, we truly experience the beauty that’s symbolized by the magic that runs deep in Evee’s blood.

 

WAS THERE A MESSAGE IN YOUR BOOK THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CONVEY?

Readjust your perceptions of what it means to fail and to win. Trust your own sense of what’s right and wrong—you’ve got it in you to do so. Believe in happy endings.

 

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR BOOK?

Nope.

 

IF YOUR BOOK WOULD BE MADE INTO A FILM, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY THE LEADS?

So, on February 15th, 2020, my wife and I watched the movie INSTANT FAMILY. I spent the entire movie amazed at how the actress playing the oldest adopted child looked and acted (vibed) exactly as I pictured Evee Salazar. I mean, wow. Then this actress sings during the credits, and my wife turns to me, unsolicited, and says, “She could play Evee.”

The actress’s name is Isabela Merced. I’ve come to find out I am a ‘strong’ 3-degrees connected with her through a friend—freaky. But it will probably come to nothing. Who knows.

Mark Perrino could be played by Isabela Merced’s real-life best friend, with his hair dyed brown (I’m winking at somebody here). I’ve said earlier: Joan by Laura Linney. Ozzy by Bobby Cannavale.

For Book 2/3, not sure who would play Jenn Yung. I’d love to get Henry Winkler for bad guy, Ted Gabrile. Not sure who would play the other bad guys/gals.

Films would need to start with Book 1 though.

I’ve gone through this exercise in an earlier interview for Book 1, in which I said a cameo would be played by an actress for a specific character. I couldn’t reveal it at the time, but the character was Miley, and the actress was Sophie Turner (I’m not sure Sophie’s hair is truly red, but I’m picturing her from GOT).

 

WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?

I’ve been reading books by Charlie N. Holmberg (The Will and the Wild, The Fifth Doll), Luanne Smith (The Vine Witch) and Rhys Bowen (In Farleigh Field, Above the Bay of Angels). I just finished a couple of these and need to start on something new.

 

WHAT KIND OF MUSIC (FROM BOOK 2) TOUCHES YOUR SOUL?

I’ll answer this question for this book, Book 3: Buy the book and read the playlist at the end, especially the very last song.

(Note: I NEVER write the lyrics into the novel, I merely mention the song titles and singers, which people can look up themselves online if they don’t know them.)

R.B. Shifman is a husband, father, and contract market researcher. He lives near Doylestown, Pennsylvania with his wife, Sheri. Their two children are currently in college. R.B. studied Creative Writing and Psychology at the University of Miami back in the days when Jimmy Johnson was the football head coach and the football team was great. Ask R.B., and he will surely tell you all about those glory days. R.B. also earned two graduate degrees in Social Psychology from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Every series or short story R.B. has written in the twenty-first century references the fictional suburb of Dairytown, PA, which is inspired by real-life Doylestown, PA.

Where to connect with Rich:

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