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RMU’s ‘Star Child’ — Stephanie Keyes ’99

Stephanie KeyesWhen she was a young girl, most of Stephanie Keyes’ female classmates were reading things like Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High. But Keyes didn’t really get excited about reading until she discovered T.H. White’s Arthurian fantasy The Once and Future King.

“When I picked it up for the first time,” says Keyes, “I was like, wow—this is magic! I mean, the romance of it all…the magical world…I just fell in love with it. I was hooked.”

Today readers all around the world are getting hooked on Keyes’ The Star Child series, a YA fantasy trilogy which includes The Star Child (Sept. 2012), The Fallen Stars (April 2013), and the third and final installment, The Star Catcher, which hits bookshelves on November 10.

“Not bad for a girl who got a ‘C’ in literature,” she says.

Keyes (formerly Hoffman), a 1999 graduate of Robert Morris University’s business program, focused on computers while in school, taking classes in RMU’s information systems track. “It was kind of a new thing back then,” she says. “This was before the big Internet boom.”

After graduating, she got a job with Crown Castle in Pittsburgh, where she stayed for several years doing software training and employee development. Every once in a while they would throw her some basic graphic design assignments, too. “I caught on pretty quick,” she says. “I taught myself Captivate and Photoshop…it was my favorite aspect of the job.”

But although she enjoyed the techie side of it, Keyes felt that the computer field just didn’t provide the creative outlet she needed. So like so many people out there, she thought she’d take a stab at the “great American novel.” But it wasn’t as easy as she’d imagined. “I took several stabs at it,” she says, “but I just couldn’t come up with a character I connected with.” That is until she conjured up Kellen St. James, a 17-year-old prodigy caught up in a magical Celtic underworld filled with faeries, demons, angels, and gods. “Writing from a male prospective just fit. Suddenly the words started pouring out.”

stephanie-keyes-the-star-catcher-v4-finalKeyes self-published her first book, The Star Child, in 2011. Eventually she pitched it to some small presses, including Inkspell Publishing. A week and a half later, Inkspell requested a partial sample. Then they asked for a full. “I kept thinking, there’s no way this is going to happen,” says Keyes. “They’re not going to want to publish my book.”

When she received the request at work for the book contract, Keyes was so excited her coworkers thought she was having a seizure. “Next thing I know there are 25 people jumping up and down inside my cubicle. I just wanted someone to validate my work, and now they had. It was incredible.”

Then Inkspell asked Keyes what her plans were for the other two books in the series. “I didn’t have any plans,” she admits. “But I didn’t tell them that.”

Keyes’ writing has opened a lot of doors for her and has had her traveling all over the country. She spoke at the Love a Happy Ending Summer Audience, last year in the U.K., and she’s held several writing workshops throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area. In November she’ll be speaking at the Peters Township Public Library, as well as the Society For Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Western Pennsylvania fall conference.

When she’s not writing, Keyes still works as a freelance instructional and graphic designer, while raising her two boys, ages 6 and 2. She enjoys spending time with her best friend, husband, and fellow alum, Aaron Weis ’00, a Software Specialist for U.S. Bank, who also majored in business with a focus on information systems. “And he got an ‘A’ in literature,” says Keyes. “Go figure.”

Keyes is also a self-proclaimed music addict and says the book she’s working on now is more “music-driven.” She even plays the clarinet and saxophone, and even does a little singing.

“Life’s too short to not try things,” she says. “You have to always look for something new—a new challenge, a new direction to go in.”

–Written by Valentine J. Brkich

Visit Stephanie online at www.stephaniekeyes.com.

The Star Catcher

Synopsis:
Magick and destiny intertwine as he fights to save his kingdom and the goddess he loves.

Her kiss…the feel of her skin…the beat of her heart…For seventeen-year-old Kellen St. James, each memory is marred by a single sentence on a lone strip of paper.

Cali has been taken…

Armed with an amulet that channels the ultimate power of Faerie, Kellen searches for his love. However, control of the amulet’s energy comes with a price, and Kellen soon learns that Cali’s captor has plans for the stone. With the threat of the Star Catcher’s evil looming above Kellen and his kingdom, he’ll have to free the Heart of Faerie and break the curse the binds the Children of Danu to the darkness. But before that, he has to find his real father, the king. No pressure, right?

Kellen and Cali will battle bewitched armies and unknown foes as they fight to stay together. Will Kellen embrace his immortal destiny? Or will his world, and the man he is fated to become, be destroyed by The Star Catcher?

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