Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Conversation with Sci-Fi/Adventure Writer Shima Carter

Most of you have never heard of Shima Carter. Yet. Do not despair. I’m here to remedy that!

Shima and I first met a few years ago, when we were both grad students at the University of South Florida’s MFA program in Creative Writing. We were in several fiction and creative nonfiction workshops together, and we also worked as editors of USF’s literary magazine, Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. We’re also in a writing group together (a group that has been incredibly helpful for me personally, since they’ve held me accountable and kept me sane).

Last summer I had the pleasure to read from (and fall in love with!) the first draft of Shima’s novel. She’s continued to work on it since then, and should be querying agents soon. And when that happens, she will SET THE UNIVERSE ON FIRE—mark my words, world wide web: Not only is the story gripping, smart, and fun, but the writing is fantastic!

But before the world is crispy-fried*, we get to talk to her about writing, her Sci-Fi/adventure novel, and sandwiches! What could be better than that?    

Shima Carter


*Yes. Crispy-fried. This is a thing.

Jaquira: Where do you write?  What does your writing space look like?  Is there anything you can’t write without?

Shima: I almost always write in my home office.  It’s convenient when I only have a few minutes and it’s quiet (a definite must for me).  Besides my laptop, my desk often has on it an embarrassing number of stacks of things to-do, an assortment of dessert-smelling candles, and a large glass of water.

I could write without Gator, my son’s black lab, but I wouldn’t want to.  When he rests his warm, slobbery face on my foot, I feel like he’s silently cheering me on.

Jaquira: What is the title of your book or work in progress?

Shima: I’m currently working on a book titled ARCHIMEDES AND THE DARK ENERGY.  

Jaquira: What is your book about?

Shima: ARCHIMEDES AND THE DARK ENERGY is an adventure novel about a 13-year-old boy named Archie who is sent on a quest to save his sister from a mysterious kidnapper. He and the kidnapper are linked through a set of devices, developed by his scientist father, that hurl him through space to different historic sites around the world. Along the way, Archie discovers that his father may not always have been the man he’s known. And, if Archie is to succeed and save his sister, he will have to decipher the clues his father’s been leaving him his entire life.

Jaquira: I’ve come across some online chatter that suggests agents/editors are looking for “boy books,” and while this is definitely a book that boys will LOVE, I think it will appeal to any gender. Also, it sounds like a major blockbuster! Who would you cast to play your characters in the movie?

Shima: Although he’s too old now, I think Logan Lerman would have been an ideal choice to play Archie in a film version of the book. 

Lerman in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Lerman effectively embodies a bewilderment and heroism that Archie’s character might feel when he finds himself being teleported to mystical places and as he tries to unravel a mystery steeped in modern science and ancient history.

I also thought Lerman did an outstanding job in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, portraying a level of vulnerability and sensitivity that would be consistent with Archie’s character as he yearns to save his sister while grappling with who he is, who his father was, and how they did and didn’t connect with one another.        

Jaquira: Yes! The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my all-time favorite YA books. I love the movie (though I prefer the book).  Which books were the most influential to you as a young reader?

Shima: As a pre-teen, I was NEVER caught without a book.  Some of my favorites were and still are A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Eight Cousins, The Dragonriders of Pern, Black Beauty, To Kill a Mockingbird and Lady of Avalon.

Jaquira: To Kill a Mockingbird! That is still one of my favorites. Can you talk about how you got the idea for your book?

Shima: I’m intrigued by creation myths, and how science, religion, and cultural beliefs intersect, so I think that influenced my writing quite a bit. Similarly, I love to travel and experience new cultures and communities, which I hope came through in Archimedes and the Dark Energy as well. 

For me as a child, the cartoon Where is Carmen Sandiego? was second only to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which, I believe, explains a lot about where the idea for the book came from. Ultimately, though, the impetus to write the book came from my desire to tell a story my twelve-year-old son, Zion, would read while he was still young enough to be interested in something his mom had written. 

Jaquira: Which one of your characters has the most of you in him/her?

Shima: Deja’s character is definitely the one most like me. She’s competitive, athletic, respectably intelligent, and more than a little hot-tempered and snarky. 

Jaquira: That definitely sounds like you! (Although, I’ll admit, I’m glad I never had to come across hot-tempered Shima.) So here’s an unrelated—though totally relevant—question that’s not really a question: A famous New York City deli wants you to create and name a sandwich. Go!

Shima: Try The Amazing Mumford: Crunchy peanut butter, banana slices, and maple syrup wedged between two thick wheat pancakes cut like slices of bread. (Side of milk recommended).

Not sure if it qualifies as a sandwich, but I’m more of a breakfast person.  As for the sandwich’s name, it’s a shout-out to an old friend from Sesame Street

Jaquira: That sounds delicious! (And I will be making that at home.) Here’s the one I came up with: Chocolate-hazelnut spread (hold the palm oil and the deforestation) and creamy peanut butter on Puerto Rican pan sobao from a little bakery called El Burrito in Aguas Buenas.   



  1. My son has been looking for books that interest him, this could be one of those books! Girls always have many different books to choose from and also can read books that are referencing males. Males just can't get into babysitting and cheerleading books, they have much more limitations. Thanks Shima for having a concept that can interest both!

  2. Nice to virtually make your acquaintance, Shima. Wonderful interview ladies.

    The WiP truly drew me in...along with some of the things that inspired it like He-Man and Masters of the Universe.

    "I have the POWER!"

  3. I can not wait for my son and in a few years, my daughter, to read this book. Shima Carter is such a creative, thoughtFUL person that works towards such extreme high levels in all facets that I know it will be an amazing first of many superior novels!

  4. Thanks so much for stopping by Shima!

    And I would totally eat that sandwich!

  5. Nice scenery blog posting.It will be lovely wonderful YAtopia. Those are my colors and style!adventure sport nq.