Interview with Istvan Szabo Ifj.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Istvan Szabo, Ifj., an award winning screenwriter and director, and the author and illustrator of the Auralight Fantasy book series, Crystal Shade and the short story series, 7 Post Meridiem.
I can see from your book’s website, (www.crystalshadeangeni.com) that a lot of thought has gone into your flagship series, Crystal Shade. Can you describe your series to me?
Crystal Shade is about the life of a young, daydreaming soul, the seven years old Grace who always dreamt of becoming a guardian angel; like those who guarded and guided her people and prepared to bravely fight in a dreaded mythical event, the Crystal Shade – which never came. It's not like Grace ever wanted to see Demons. Or wants to know what evil and darkness is – things that no one ever faced on her world and as the legends says, the Crystal Shade carries within –, nor does she want to die to be reborn as a guardian. But she thinks the mysterious life of angels is so noble a fable that it sounds exciting – until it actually happens.

In Crystal Shade I'm inviting the reader to live the life of a young soul who is reborn as a matured Guardian Angel. I’d like it if the readers would discover a strange home world and its secrets along with her, evolve with the character, understand her motives, her thoughts and foremost her decisions, even in the darkest hours while she is trying to learn what the mythical event, the Crystal Shade really is. It’s a story about a soul who love to dream, just like everyone else… but just as the crystal has its own shadow, sometimes restless dreams and revealed secrets may also bring darkness into life and the world itself.

As many have asked what the secondary title, Angeni means. My answer is… the story will tell it as it’s all about an “Angeni”.
Crystal Shade is an Auralight Fantasy, the only one in the genre. But what an Auralight Fantasy really is?
Auralight Fantasy (a.k.a. AuraFantasy or Auralight) which is a new variation and mix of many genres. While it contains many Epic Fantasy, Young Adult, and close-to-Science-Fiction, close-to-Steampunk mechanical and / or fantastical elements, such as aura-powered flying and other machines and weapons, or a strange world with a blue sun, it also includes biological-fantastical elements, such as aura beings with superpowers, living in different spirit realms of an otherworldly ancient society with an atmosphere not just felt, but seen as emanating from person, places and other living and non-living things. The term "Auralight Fantasy" was coined to reflect the more overtly fantastical tones of Crystal Shade.
What is the difference between an Auralight Fantasy and other Fantasy stories?
As some of my readers said, there are three types of angel stories in the world; the religious, the mainstream, the Crystal Shade. That's true, but in my opinion the real difference is not just the characters, but the beautiful, vivid world itself. While in many stories the beautifully crafted world is just a static set, a meaningless tertiary background element, in Crystal Shade I've tried to create something different; a world which living and acting like a hero, a main character from the beginning to the end of the story. A world that shapes the characters just as they shape its life; a beautiful silent character, which has a long life, evolves, has its own culture and more importantly has a past, present and even a future - far beyond the storyline or the pages of the novel. It is a home to strange Gods and Goddesses with their own history and meaning, ancient legends and beautiful folklores, which may even change as time passes. A strange civilization, which may seem and sound strange and creatures you may have never heard of, but may also sound so familiar. In this rich world with many languages and dialects, their own beliefs and for us, humans, a seemingly strange, but charming society.
Who’s your target audience?
As the first line of the book says; Thousands of stars could tell thousands of stories. While angels and demons play the key role in Crystal Shade, the trilogy tries to present these mythical and mysterious creatures in a completely different way than the well known ones as well as trying to bring them closer, to present them as less rigid and / or almighty to the readers. Because angels and demons, spirits, souls and other religious creatures are sometimes alienating readers, Crystal Shade presents these creatures independently so that everyone may read and enjoy regardless of age, origin and belief. As Crystal Shade was meant for everyone, it is now available on 5 continents, in 50+ countries and via 150+ territorial retailers and more will come.
Is it true that the self-portrait of Crystal Shade's winged heroine was in space?
In Crystal Shade the winged daydreamer always desire the stars, always dreaming about them, so I gave them to her with the help of NASA. The first time the lady's portrait has flown aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) on mission STS-134 from May 16, 2011 to June 1, 2011. Under the 15 days, 17 hours, 38 minutes, 51 seconds long mission Endeavour made 248 orbits around Earth at an altitude of 220 miles, traveled at a speed of more than 17400 miles per hour and took a journey of 6,510,221 miles in space. STS-134 was the 25th and final mission of Endeavour. Her second space flight was flown aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (OV-104) on mission STS-135 from July 8, 2011 to July 21, 2011. Under the 12 days, 18 hours, 28 minutes, 50 seconds long mission Atlantis made 200 orbits around Earth at an altitude of 220 miles, traveled at a speed of more than 17400 miles per hour and took a journey of 5,284,862 miles in space. STS-135 was the 33rd and final mission of Atlantis and the very last mission in the 30 years long space shuttle program (Apr 12, 1981- July 21, 2011). Gracie's name is also onboard the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity what I sent into the MSL program on June 30, 2009. Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity launched on November November 26, 2011 and landed in Gale Crater, Mars on August 6, 2012. Her name has traveled 567,066,571km+. All the NASA certificates are available in the free art and design book, Crystal Shade: Introduction.
Reading your biography it's clear that you both add visual design and other artistic skills to the creative mix for Crystal Shade. How did your illustration and cinematic skills help you to write the scenes in the novel?
It helps me a lot. Personally I want to present a new, breathing and living fantasy world, not a story with elves, dwarves, thieves, werewolves, vampires, magic spells, wizard schools, castles, treasures, or “get the artifact adventure of the Brave Knight, One liner thief, Wise Dwarf and Co.”… story. (None of the aforementioned elements are present in Crystal Shade.). With these skill, I was able to develop a brand new, detailed world, a very rich culture and well coreographied battle scenes. As most of my readers said; "The world of Crystal Shade is a beautiful, vivid world and appear almost as fine art. It’s history sounds so real because of the impressive world building. The detailed descriptions are capable to expand the imagination of the readers.” I’m really proud for this as this was one of the hardest part in the development as the world itself is also playing a great role in Crystal Shade.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. The very first story was a sci-fi and it's title was "City on the Rings of Saturn". It was back in primary school's 3rd or 4th grade. The teacher gave us forty-five minutes to write something. so I wrote this sci-fi story. And few days later I wrote my first illustrated story-art historical hybrid, "A Day in the Roman Legion" for a history competition. I always loved the history of the Roman and Egyptian Empires.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My alarm clock. :)
What are you working on next?
I have several novel starts going at the moment. My primary works for 2013/14 are connecting to Crystal Shade. The're entitled Crystal Shade: Afterlight and Crystal Shade: Angeni, Volume 2. CS: Afterlight is the transition short story, connecting CS:Angeni, Volumes 1 and 2. I also plan to release the next novelette in the 7 Post Meridiem universe, The New York Homicide and two extra short stories, Deus Ex and Gemma Innata. And there is a third project, Nightfall, which will be an episodic sci-fi thriller series.
Published 2013-08-22.
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