How to Hunt a Menacing Magical Shadow: Author Guest Post

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Today we are thrilled to share with you a guest post from Christine Schulz, author of How to Hunt a Menacing Magical Shadow.

How to Hunt a Magical Shadow (Black Sheep Book 1)
Christine Schulz
Avaliable on Amazon

Magic is unpredictable, some would say even dangerous. So is Adrian Cotter, a loudmouth troublemaker with an ability to make magic do just about anything – except what it’s supposed to. Despite being teased by everyone around him, he’s determined to make something of himself and prove he can still be a hero.

That is, until he’s framed for murder. Now, he’s running for his life.

With the entire city chasing after him, Adrian is hunted by a menacing shadow obsessed with killing him and haunted by a mysterious voice playing games in his head. When a group of unlikely strangers takes him in, he learns the truth about his magic, things he never thought were possible. As the mysteries and lies continue to surface, Adrian uncovers a disturbing secret from his past that throws his future into uncertainty. Will he finally find out the truth? How far is he willing to go to become the hero he’s always wanted to be?


The Craziest Thing I Ever Did in the Name of Research

Christine Schulz

I’ve heard countless times from authors that the best stories you can write are often based on your own personal experiences. Unfortunately, that’s a little difficult to do when you write fantasy. My tattoos possess no special magic and I have yet to figure out how to light the firepit on our patio with a ball of fire that shoots out from my palm. However, I can claim to have done a multitude of other interesting things in the name of research.

Let me tell you the story about the first time I fired a gun. The handgun is a frequently used weapon chosen by authors, but you’d be surprised at how many have never actually fired one. I remember very clearly the first time I shot a gun. I was terrified, which is exactly what you don’t want when shooting a gun. Unsteady hands, uncertainty, and fear can lead to a slew of mistakes that can get you, or someone else, seriously injured. I stood there nervously for a good five minutes until I finally drummed up the courage to pull the trigger.

Bang. The bullet exploded through the air so fast the whole thing was over before I even realized what happened.

Most authors write about the sound of a gunshot, but what I remembered most was an acrid smell infiltrating my nose – like burning fireworks. The slight, bitter taste of the sulfuric smoke stuck to the back of my tongue. My hands vibrated. My body felt warm. The adrenaline rushed through me and made me wonder if I should go check my pants. But after that, the anxious feeling faded and had a newfound respect for those who have trained for years with these weapons. I barely hit the target standing still. How could anyone effectively shoot a gun in a fight while they were running, jumping, and dodging other bullets flying at them?

I’ve participated in many other fun activities to improve my writing. Archery became a new favorite hobby of mine. I’ve also taken fencing lessons to learn about sword fighting. I went indoor skydiving (I’m too chicken to do it for real) to experience what it feels like to be weightless and to fall. Axe throwing? Turns out I may have been a lumberjack in a past life. Perhaps the craziest, but most educational, thing I’ve ever done was take a self-defense class and volunteer myself as the instructor’s assistant.

The Price of Volunteering My Body for the Sake of Research

I’d like to preface by saying I am extremely flexible. My arms and legs can move into positions no normal body should be able to. I would have done well as a contortionist in the circus. The instructor was also not intentionally trying to harm me, but the awkward positions were no doubt uncomfortable and even though he wasn’t using his full force, I could clearly imagine the discomfort amplifying into intense pain if someone were to ever actually use these maneuvers in a real life situation.

This particular class was geared toward self-defense for woman. The instructor, a former law enforcement officer with a mountain of muscle, introduced himself, then got right into it by starting to explain what to do when your hands are tied or held behind your back. I eagerly raised my hand to demonstrate. He tied my wrists together… then I simply swung them over my head so they were in front of me. I could have then run away, but instead I jumped at him, dropped my tied hands around his neck, and motioned like I would strangle him. Effective, but he wasn’t impressed since no normal person can use their arms to jump rope their body.

We switched positions. I was behind him, attempting to secure his wrists with a zip tie. Out of nowhere his heel came down on my foot and his head smashed into my nose. He then shoved all six-foot-three of his solid muscled body backwards, pinning me against the wall and pretending to drive an elbow into my gut. Not fair, if you asked me. I was a five-foot-three slightly overweight and out of shape female. Nevertheless, I understood how effective his attack could be. The first reaction when someone comes at you is often panic, flailing hands about or writhing back and forth to wiggle free from a hold. Many victims don’t even attempt to fight back.

Next on the list. What do you do if someone grabs you when you’re trying to run away? My grip locked around his wrist and he pivoted around to face me. Slapping his free hand on top of mine, he pinched between my thumb and index finger and began twisting my arm behind me. Being overly flexible, my shoulder had rotated in the complete opposite direction. With my elbow now nudging into my shoulder blade, he secured my arm flat against my back. I still remember the cringing and gasps of horror from the group of women at the unsightly vision it must have been. The instructor actually thought he may have accidentally pulled my shoulder out of the socket, but other than a little stretch, I was perfectly fine.

Let’s try something else. I went for a choke hold around his neck. He pinched my bicep (which hurts a lot more than you might imagine!) and dragged me down to the ground while kicking my shin.

What if someone grabs your hair? I, at least tried to, grab his from behind. He reached back to lock both hands around mine, swung under my arm, and pushed it into my back as he kicked behind my knees until I fell to the ground.

I think you can get where I’m going with this.

He demonstrated, using me as his test subject, a variety of other ways to defend yourself in the event of an attack. His best advice was when in doubt, always go for the groin (he wouldn’t let me test that one out).

I had a couple of bruises after that class, but I took away a wealth of useful information from it. For one, I’d probably end up confusing my attacker because most attempts at violence that would hurt or subdue an average person would do absolutely nothing to me. The other lesson I learned that day was understanding how a scrappy character with limited strength and skills might overcome a more powerful opponent. In my novel, How to Hunt a Menacing Magical Shadow, my main character Adrian is a short, often powerless troublemaker who prefers cupcakes to the gym. He has to find creative and unconventional ways to get out of challenging situations and many of the maneuvers I had learned were just perfect to accomplish that.

How far would you go for the sake of research? If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest you try something firsthand! Even if you aren’t an author, you can learn something new by participating in different activities and have some fun while doing it (as long as you aren’t a self-defense test dummy.)

Christine Schulz is an urban fantasy author, wannabe chef, and lover of pugs. When she’s not writing, you can find her sitting on the couch with her furry pug friend engulfed in anime or testing out a new recipe in the kitchen. You can check out her projects and stay up to date with what she’s been working on at

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