Growing up in Cape Town in the 90s, Shameez Patel Papathanasiou always had a passion for stories. She started writing as soon as she knew how to form sentences. Recounting one of the first tales she created at just 10 years old, the debut author says she should’ve known back then that fantasy with a romantic subplot would be the first novel she’d get published. Her parents enjoy reminding her of “The Treasure of Zombie Island” which featured no zombies and ended up being a really strange retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
A civil engineer by day, the self-confessed choc-chip cookie fiend also enjoys reading and being a mom to a busy little girl. And on the days when her mind is a little too tired to focus on words, Shameez indulges in an incredible amount of television with Marvel’s Loki being her favourite show to rewatch. Now her own literary adventure, The Last Feather, is taking readers to new worlds filled with magic, monsters, and someone to fall in love with.
Billed as a threat-and-danger fantasy, the story follows 22-year-old Cassia who is dealing with two very different tragedies. Her sister is inexplicably dying and her best friend Lucas is missing. After some very realistic dreams, Cassia wakes up in a mysterious realm to find Lucas who also has the key to saving her sister. But nothing is simple in love and magic as our heroine learns that her BFF’s life is very complicated.
Lucas is part of the Reborns Community – a group of people who were born on Earth and reborn with magical abilities in an alternate realm after death. Ruled by The Firsts, the number of Reborns is kept in check by the King’s culling curse. Finding herself trapped in the middle of the chaos, Cassia races against time to break the wicked spell. Otherwise, she will be trapped there forever and never see her sister again.
As Shameez Patel Papathanasiou prepares for her official book launch later this week (August 26th), the former Fortress of Solitude writer, took some time to chat about The Last Feather.
Did you always know you wanted to write a book?
“Yes. Yes. A million times yes. Did I always believe that other people would enjoy it enough to buy it? Not always. But luckily for me, on one of the days that I believed in myself, I found the courage to go forth and dive into the query trenches.”
Where does your inspiration come from?
“I draw inspiration from everything. Conversations, the things I read and watch. The situations I often find myself in. Sometimes something as simple as the silhouette of trees in the sunset gives me an idea for a scene. Once you open yourself up to stories, they come to you.”
How did you create The Selene Realm?
“In this case, it was a spur-of-the-moment thought that popped into my head when I needed an idea for National Novel Writing Month. The Selene Realm had a mind of its own and was simply waiting for Cassia and Lucas to complete it. Once they crept into my mind, the story formed clearly.”
Was it easy to create that subtle touch of romance in such an intricately woven story?
“I romanticize everything. Even when there isn’t meant to be romance, I’m the reader or viewer whispering to myself, ‘Ahhh, just kiss already!’ I don’t believe that I would ever write a full-length novel that doesn’t have a very strong romantic plot. Fantasy and romance are my two favourite genres and combining them came easily”
When asked if she included any elements of herself in The Last Feather, Shameez said she very specifically excluded any of her traits from the story. That’s because if she were transported to a magical realm filled with monsters she would probably cower in a closet. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy crafting Cassia’s next adventure. The Eternal Shadow, the second book in The Selene Trilogy is already in the works and it’s somehow simultaneously scarier and more romantic than its predecessor.
While readers will have to wait till 2023 to continue Cassia’s story, The Last Feather is available everywhere books are sold. Fans can also subscribe to her newsletter where more information will sneak through. Additionally, Shameez Patel Papathanasiou is very active on social media so fans can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.