An up-and-coming teen writer whose newest novel is on several publications’ “must-read” lists for this year will be discussing her YA fantasy “Seeker” this week.
Arwen Elys Dayton appears from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb.12, in the downstairs readings gallery of Village Books, 1200 11th St.
“Seeker,” which went on sale Tuesday, Feb. 10, features a girl named Quin who has spent her young life training to be a seeker.
“It’s fairly brutal training; it’s sort of a noble calling, kind of like a knight,” Dayton said.
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The book — which has drawn comparisons to “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” — has been optioned by Columbia Pictures for a movie with Mark Gordon, producer of such hits as “Saving Private Ryan” and “Speed,” according to the Hollywood Reporter, a trade publication.
“(Quin is) proud of what she does,” Dayton said. “But at the end of the training she finds she has been deceived about its true purpose. Rather than this noble calling, she finds out that she’s being manipulated. It’s a life-changing betrayal.”
“Seeker” is set in the near future and features magical weapons such as shape-shifting swords that even have a stun feature. The action travels from Scotland to London to Hong Kong.
“I like to think ‘Seeker’ has a flavor of historical fiction, even though it’s set in the near future,” Dayton said.
Dayton, who is married with three children, was born in the northern part of California’s great Central Valley but was raised in northwest Oregon, where she still lives, splitting her time between the Salem area and west Los Angeles.
Her parents named her Arwen for an elf in “The Lord of the Rings,” and it prompted “an existential crisis” that nearly caused her to change her name.
“(My parents) weren’t hippies, but they were free-thinking academics,” Dayton said. “They encouraged me to read anything and everything,” even the sci-fi classic “Dune,” at age 10. “I was very much into fantasy and sci-fi. I wrote 100-page stories, which I then forced my classmates to sit and listen to during read-aloud.”
She graduated from high school at 16 and traveled extensively, working as a tutor and at other jobs until she was ready for college. But while waiting for classes to start at Stanford University, she took a job writing for a company that was producing science documentaries for a PBS show “The Eddie Files,” about an urban math teacher and her students.
That sealed her passion for writing and literature, which she loves to share with her children and students around the country, where she gives presentations while on tour. An earlier novel, “Resurrection,” has something of a cult following and was given new life on Amazon.com.
Dayton said she admires the strong young women characters of literature and fashioned Quin to fit that mold, embracing the young adult genre because of a fascination with her adolescence.
“Nobody gets out of their teens years alive. It’s exciting as a writer, you have the emotional impact of the teen years,” she said.
Dayton said she will read a passage from “Seeker” and possibly lead participants in a writing exercise. She’ll be available to sign copies of the book.