The Shadow Immortals is an upcoming fantasy novel, an ode to the author’s late mom, sci-fi films, and books. A lonely boy searches for his mother. To find answers, he embarks on a journey filled with tragedy, betrayal, and a fateful discovery. Along the way, he meets elves, water dragons, flying herbivorous reptiles, and black carnivorous quadrupeds. The premise has all the ingredients of a hit sci-fi film, but we’re not talking here of a movie, but of an upcoming fantasy novel from a first-time author. Village Pipol talks to The Shadow Immortals’ author, John Luke Chica, on what inspires him to write, what his favorite reads are, and his journey to have his debut novel published among other things.
The Shadow Immortals: A sci-fi story inspired by filial love
The writing journey begins
Chica credits his mom as his biggest inspiration in writing,
“Back in the day when my mother was still alive, she had a dream of publishing her non-fiction book. I remembered I was a pre-teen when she started writing her book, but I could not recall if she had finished it or not.”
His mom used to write for various broadsheets and this piqued his interest in writing,
“I guess you can say she influenced me to write.”
However, what made Chica pursue writing a novel was his decision to finally put himself and his dreams first. He admits to having the compulsion of always doing what is best for other people, often sacrificing his own needs and wants,
“I tend to forgo my own dreams in pursuit of others’ goals by helping them out. It seems honorable on paper, but I didn’t leave any time for myself and with what I really wanted to do with my life.”
A heartbreak a few years ago made him snap and finally give in to the urge of writing his first-ever novel,
“I decided to join a self-publishing course and, thus, began my writing journey.”
He initially did not plan for his first publication to be a work of fiction,
“It’s funny; I started writing a non-fiction book about my life as a part of the LGBT community, but I figured that no one will read it. So, I ended up going back to my original idea of writing fantasy or sci-fi novels.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
On Star Wars, Dune, and Fahrenheit 451
Chica shares how he, like many batang ’90s like himself, has always harbored a fascination with fantastical stories.
“This stemmed back to the ’90s when my dad brought me to the cinema to watch Star Wars, the special edition release from George Lucas, for the first time.”
He considers the movie life-changing, and from that point onwards his mind “just kept on imagining the possibilities.”
He recalls with fondness the innumerable times he lost himself inside the pages of books. Specifically, he recognizes Frank Herbert (Dune) and Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) as the ones to have the most profound influence on his writing style. Specifically, he cites their signature lyrical and highly descriptive style that Chica laments he no longer sees in books that he reads nowadays. Chica says of his personal style,
“Their work is filled with poetic prose. I try as much to emulate their style, but my editors and myself think that I’m trying too hard. So, as much as possible I try to keep a hybrid of poetic prose and keep it simple.”
Similar to how many writers have embarked on their writing journey, Chica started by creating stories in his head, sometimes causing him insomnia when there were simply too many thoughts jostling for mental space. He remembers writing poems back in high school and joining his school’s journalism club.
In fact, The Shadow Immortals is not his first attempt at writing novels.
“Probably around five years ago, I tried to write a book. The idea was similar to Mortal Instruments, but my files were corrupted.”
Chica shares that the road to being published is far from easy given that he is not a full-time author,
“I can’t make a career out of it yet, but I do have a day job that eats up a lot of my time.”
Chica runs a creative agency and a digital publication, which he admits takes up a massive chunk of his focus and energy,
“Thus, my writing time takes a hit.”
With that said, he does not allow his hectic professional life to deter him from his goal of being a published author,
“I took the self-publishing course through PaperKat Books in late 2019, but when 2020 happened despite going through the pandemic, I had the opportunity to start and finish my book in 12 months.”
A love letter to his mother
Chica describes The Shadow Immortals as a dystopian story set in a fantasy world:
“There’s something about dystopian novels or movies that compels me to know more. From Blade Runner to Ready Player One, where some mammoth corporation took over the world and the citizens felt there was no hope left for a better life. I guess the question of ‘What happens next?’ keeps popping up in my head whenever an apocalyptic event or war occurred in one of my stories.”
Despite the novel’s outlandish elements and themes, at the very heart of The Shadow Immortals is a lonely boy’s search for his mother, which echoes the author’s own longing for his late mom,
“She dreamt of publishing her own book, but that didn’t happen. So in a way, this book is an ode to her. And you’ll read that in the story, how the boy is searching for his mother.”
Recommended reads, wise words for budding writers
All writers are readers, too, and Chica himself is a voracious bookworm. For sci-fi enthusiasts who are also thinking of writing their own novels, he recommends having in their bookshelves the following books: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter, The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
Chica, who has had to traverse a long and winding road to becoming a published author has this to say to aspiring writers,
“We tend to doubt if we’re even worthy enough to have the audacity to write a book, but don’t listen to these demons. Just write your story. Don’t worry about whether or not people are going to read it.”
Chica says with a wistful smile,
“You’re writing for you, first and foremost. And if people find it amazing, then that’s a bonus.”