Author Interview The Portal & The Panther


I’m interviewing R.A. Marshall today, author of YA fantasy / science-fiction novel “The Portal & The Panther”. I hope you enjoy the interview!

Have you been writing for a long time? What inspired you to start a writing career?

Yes and no.  As a lot of writers say, I’ve been writing all my life — I recently discovered a notebook from 1986 with a list of story ideas in the back of it.  One of the notes to myself says, “My next story will have more wolves and logic.”  Oddly enough, The Portal & the Panther sort of fits with that suggestion!
But I got away from writing fiction after college.  In 2008, I started freelancing as a writer for various websites.  A few years later, I noticed that the publishing industry was undergoing a revolution thanks to eReaders, not unlike what happened in the music industry when the MP3 file came along.  For the first time, being an indie author was a truly viable writing career option.
After five years of freelancing, I was very tired of writing things that didn’t interest me for other people and wanted to write something that I owned the rights to.  So, during my Christmas vacation in 2013, I sat down and knocked out the first 20,000 words of The Portal & the Panther.
Is The Portal & The Panther your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.
Yes, it’s my first novel.  I’ve written some other ebooks over the years as a freelance writer, but my name’s not on any of those.  This is my first long work of fiction.

Why did you choose YA Fantasy as genre for your book?
I was raised on science fiction and fantasy.  I can’t say for certain because I was so young, but I have a vague memory of Return of the Jedi being one of the first movies my dad ever took me to see in the theater.  I also remember him pulling Starship Troopers off the shelf of our local library when I was about seven.  So my geeky obsession with sci-fi and fantasy is due to my father’s hard work at indoctrinating me.
As for young adult, when the Harry Potter books started coming out in the late ’90s and early ’00s, it became okay for grown-ups to read about young people, magic, and whimsical adventure.  I’m grateful to JK Rowling, because through Harry Potter, I discovered that I love reading YA.  Our teenage years are so formative, so naturally dynamic.  It’s easy to write compelling teenage characters, because they’re already going through such a rocky inner journey.  As a writer, all you have to do is get in touch with that journey we all go through in our adolescence, and you naturally find quite a rich story waiting to be unveiled.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yep, I sure do!  Join a site like (that’s the one I use, but there are many more like it out there) and find yourself a reliable critique partner or two.  Despite the fact that writing is typically portrayed as a solitary enterprise, the truth is that it takes a village to raise a (decent) novel.  If there’s anything enjoyable about my first two books, it’s thanks to my writer friends on Scrib.

Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
Yes.  The Portal & the Panther is book 1 in my Guardians of the Portal trilogy; book 2 (The Girl Between Worlds) is already out; book 3 is what I’m working on right now.  It’s titled The Rook & the King, and is basically Layla’s story.  I’ve got about 55,000 words already written; I’ll be putting it out in May 2015.

About The Book

PP - FINALTitle: The Portal & The Panther

Author: R.A. Marshall

Genre: YA Fantasy / Science-Fiction

The only thing seventeen year-old Jon Parker wants is to escape his sleepy hometown of Mecksville, Arkansas. But everything changes when Jon stumbles into the boys’ bathroom and transforms into a black panther.

Without choice, Jon is thrust into a world where parallel universes are real, shapeshifters exist, and dangerous “intruders” can control the elements with a mere thought. Jon learns he’s inherited his shapeshifting ability from his long-dead mother, and now, like it or not, his mission is to protect our world from invaders from other worlds.

But is it a mission Jon will accept? His decision will determine the fate of the people he loves — and our whole world.

Author Bio

photo1My first attempt at novel writing was when I was ten years old.  At the time, I was writing fan fiction, without realizing what fan fiction actually was (I don’t think the term existed yet).  I had just finished reading Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein for the second time and, for the second time, couldn’t stand that the book was ending.  I needed some sort of sequel. I think I got about 12 handwritten pages into my Tunnel in the Sky sequel before my father pointed out that I’d never be able to publish it.

I tried writing novels again some time in college, but that was the period in my life when I took myself faaaaaar too seriously. If you’re over the age of 23, you’ll know what I mean by that.  I was only interested in writing something Important, something that Mattered, and consequently wrote no more than about 10,000 words before giving up.  In my heart, I didn’t want to write Les Mis or War and Peace, but The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

When Kindle came along and I stopped buying actual paper books, I realized that there was a revolution going on in the publishing world.  As I heard tales of self-published authors meeting with unprecedented success, I decided it was time to dust off my fiction writing skills and join their ranks.  I could finally just write for the hell of it and never have to worry about what a publisher would think or what anyone else would think.

I finished the first draft of The Portal and the Panther in April 2014; I plan to publish it in January 2015.  Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on the second book in the Guardians of the Portal series, The Girl Between Worlds.  I hope to also have it ready at the same time as The P and the P.




You can read the prologue here:

Email sign-up: If you sign up before March 15, you will get the third book for free.

Twitter: RAMarshall78


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