YORKTON - Yorkton has a new literary voice as Chance Rurak has published his first book.
Shadows of the Sea is a suspense novel the 20-year-old said he believes has elements which will be enjoyed by readers.
“I believe that this book is filled with suspense and action that are compelling enough to keep even the most casual reader invested,” he told Yorkton This Week. “There are a lot of books where you could read the first few chapters and guess exactly how the book is going to end, but with Shadows of the Sea, the story might just shape up to be quite different from what you are expecting.
“There is also one image per chapter, which I think can aid many people in feeling a deeper connection to the setting and the characters.”
Rurak said simply readers should “expect the unexpected.”
The author, who has lived in Yorkton all his life went on to give a glimpse of the story.
“Shadows of the Sea is a suspense novel that is narrated by high school senior Nora Newman,” he said. “Nora, her older brother Nelson, and her twin sister Claudia start to learn about some of the secrets their father holds from his time in the political world. They discover that there is a ruthless group of people who are pulling the levers of power under the surface. They have to overcome many obstacles and setbacks in order to learn more about this secret organization and their sinister plans.
“So if you want to read a book that feels like a Hollywood action movie, Shadows of the Sea is perfect to keep you on the edge of your seat for all 224 pages.”
While just past his teens years, Rurak said he has been writing for years.
“My background as a writer dates back to when I was around 10 years old,” he said. “A friend and I used to write these short stories during our free time in elementary school, and we would share them with our classmates.
“In terms of more formal training, I am about to begin my third year of university at the University of Saskatchewan and have taken many creative writing and English classes throughout my academic career.”
But Shadows of the Sea is Rurak’s first published novel.
“This is my first book, although I have more in the works,” he said. “I started writing it in the spring of 2021, once I had finished high school.
“The idea for this book actually came from a narrative hook that I wrote during a creative writing class I took in Grade 11. It was kind of a starting point for the story, and after outlining some concepts to build off of, I felt I had something unique and intriguing, so I started to piece it all together and turned it into a full novel.”
Rurak said it became a project he believed could attract readers, especially younger readers.
“I think this book is worth writing because, in my opinion, it has the ability to draw in younger readers and get them interested in reading,” he offered.
“When I was in high school, I remember almost everyone in my classes complaining when we had to read more traditional novels written many decades or even centuries ago. While many of those novels are literary classics, they can come across as outdated.”
So a modern approach was taken.
“I wrote Shadows of the Sea because, as someone who was born in the 21st century, I understand that attention spans are not what they used to be, so I worked on being innovative to create a novel that is filled with action from start to finish to keep people invested,” said Rurak.
The young author added it is important there are books that might better attract reluctant young readers.
“Reading is something very important, and we need more young people my age reading, so I felt the need to create a novel that feels more like watching a movie than reading a dusty old book,” he said.
The target audience, said Rurak is anyone who is between the ages of 13 and 25.
“I believe it is important for more people my age to enjoy reading,” he reiterated.
“I think the characters also play into that age range, as Nora and her siblings range between the ages of 17 and 19.
“However, I certainly think anyone over 13 could enjoy the story; I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone much younger than that, as there are a few scenes with violence and some mild profanity.”
As for inspiration, it was varied for Shadows of the Sea.
“There are many things that inspired my story,” said Rurak. “I am interested in the world of politics and feel that I have incorporated some things from that sphere into my book.
“Obviously, there are some conspiracies about the so-called ‘Deep State’ in the political world that helped inspire some of the topics in the book.
“In terms of the characters, some of them are inspired by people I know or have met, while others may be completely based on what’s going on in my imagination. When you read the novel, you’ll figure out that Nora is often a fighter who refuses to give up, no matter what. I can certainly say I included this message of determination because I think it is an important quality to have.”
Rurak said that determination as a theme came from family experience.
“At the start of the book, I have a dedication to my baba (grandma) Nellie, who fought cancer for many years and never gave up, so I am always inspired by her courage and determination,” said Rurak.
The writing process however was not a quick one, taking more than two years,
“I began in the spring of 2021, and it took me about four-five months to write the initial draft,” said Rurak. “What took a long time was all of the editing that went into the book after I fixed all of the mistakes I made the first time and refined the story after receiving suggestions from friends and family.
“I was really grateful to have a wonderful editor that helped me with the editing process.
“After I had the story finalized and edited, there was a process to get a cover and some pictures inside the book created. I was also a full-time student at the university and was working on the side as well, so that did delay me a bit too.”
Interestingly the often confusing English language was what Rurak pointed to as the most difficult aspect of writing the book, and then how to keep the pacing just right.
“I think the most difficult aspect, aside from the inordinate amount of grammar rules you must follow in the English language, was making sure that nothing dragged on too long in the story,” he said. “To be able to create a story that was full of action, I really had to think hard about how to make the scenes feel meaningful and not rushed, while also making sure the pace of the book didn’t become too slowed down.”
Now complete what is the best element of the book from the author’s perspective?
“That’s a tough question to answer; there are so many parts of the book that could earn this title,” offered Rurak. “I think it’s the constant state of suspense and unpredictability that really stands out to me. I don’t want to say too much so I don’t spoil anything, but the ending of the story is definitely worth the buildup.”
And, Rurak is also a satisfied writer in terms of his first work.
“I am very satisfied with what I created,” he said. “I feel that the hours I have put into this book have been well worth it, and I can only hope that I created a book that people will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.”
The book is available for purchase in either paperback or e-book format on Amazon. Rurak will also soon have copies to sell locally, and hopes to have some signings and potentially have the book available in local bookstores.