Wanting to be a writer her whole life, longtime Woodmere resident Shana Mlawski will be releasing her first book, “Hammer of Witches,” which combines her love of fantasy with history, next month.
The historical fantasy adventure takes place in the 15th century and follows 14-year-old Baltasar Infante who boards Christopher Columbus’ maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, becoming part of one of the most important events in human history.
Drawing inspiration for the young adult novel came while Mlawski was visiting Portugal and Spain. “I’m very interested in history and I thought it would be great to set a book during the 15th century,” she said. “Everything happened in 1492,” referring to Columbus’ voyage and the Spanish Inquisition.
Mlawski, who graduated from Lawrence High School in 2000, said her education helped guide her to write the book. “I had great English teachers who taught me to read all different kinds of books and analyze them,” she said. “Learning that level of interpretation in high school had an effect on how I interpreted history for this book.”
From first draft to final product took a lot of writing and research, Mlawski said. “I outlined heavily and wrote a draft but found myself doing a lot of rewriting,” she said. “Then I found an agent who tried to sell it to a publishing company, which took a couple of years.”
Mlawski’s agent Jessica Regel of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc. in Manhattan, immediately requested a manuscript of “Hammer of Witches” after Mlawski contacted her. “I loved “Hammer of Witches” from page one,” Regel said. “Not only is Shana an incredible writer, but she’s written a book that is brimming with fantasy, adventure and humor, while also having a complex overarching theme of the power and limitations of myths and legends. The book is entertaining, but also has depth.”
Regel submitted Mlawski’s book to a number of editors and ultimately sold it to Stacy Whitman at Tu Books in Manhattan. “‘Hammer of Witches’ is perfect for their list, because they publish books with multicultural characters and in Shana’s book the main character, Baltasar, lives in 1492 in Spain, so the book is set against the backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition and Columbus’ journey,” Regel said.