Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: Dan Rice pens the young adult urban fantasy series The Allison Lee Chronicles in the wee hours of the morning. The series kicks off with his award-winning debut, Dragons Walk Among Us, which Kirkus Reviews calls, “An inspirational and socially relevant fantasy.”
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Thanks so much, Dan, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What were your goals and intentions in The Blood of Faeries, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Dan Rice: My goal was to pen a fun adventure for young adults. The young adult genre fascinates me because so many stories are adventure tales. With The Blood of Faeries I’ve gotten closer to my goal than ever before. Just look at what Kirkus Reviews said: “Fans of supernatural fiction will find this novel to be a wild, riveting ride.”
I must admit that my novel being described as wild and riveting makes me feel pretty darn good.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing it?
DR: For The Blood of Faeries and my writing in general, crafting the opening scenes are most difficult. Balancing backstory, worldbuilding, and characterization with the need to hook the reader is daunting. As a result, I rewrote the opening chapters of The Blood of Faeries several times before I was happy with them. The same is true for my debut, Dragons Walk Among Us.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about them.
DR: I wouldn’t mind writing a story with Joe as the lead. In Dragons Walk Among Us, he is an Afghan war veteran who has fallen on hard times. He saves Allison from certain death when she is assaulted. In The Blood of Faeries, he has turned his life around and helps Allison track down her missing friend.
He is a voice of reason and wisdom, both gained through harrowing experiences. With his backstory, I think he could make an excellent lead in an urban fantasy yarn.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
DR: I enjoy writing Allison Lee, which is good since her stories are all first-person. What I like about Allison is that, at her core, she’s a teenager trying to survive adolescence and suffers typical teen problems. The fact she possesses paranormal powers doesn’t make being a good friend any easier or passing finals a breeze.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
DR: I read quite a bit. I remember reading in bed until I was so drowsy that I couldn’t parse what I was reading or fell asleep with the book on my chest.
JSC: We know what you like to write, but what do you like to read in your free time, and why?
DR: When I was younger, I mainly read epic fantasy. Over time, I developed into a reading omnivore. First, I started branching into fantasy’s cousin, science-fiction. Nowadays, I still read quite a bit of fantasy and science-fiction, but I’ve broadened my palate to include the genres of mystery, horror, historical, thriller, suspense, and nonfiction about subjects that catch my fancy.
I read anything that falls into the young adult category since that is what I write.
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
DR: I remember watching reruns of the original Star Trek as a kid while my mom cooked dinner. I enjoyed the heck out of them, but I’m a Star Wars fanboy at heart. Lightsabers, come on! Those are just cool. As a parent, I can watch Star Wars with my kids. I don’t think the Star Trek franchise has produced as much material for the younger set as Star Wars.
JSC: What food(s) fuel your writing?
DR: I’m going to step out on a limb and boldly declare that I’m speaking for many writers when I say my writing fuel is coffee. I do most of my writing in the wee hours of the morning before my family rises for school and the dreaded day job. So yes, I drink coffee by the pot.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
DR: I’m banging out the rough draft of the third book in The Allison Lee Chronicles. Currently, it is only known by the acronym TWOM. Bonus points if you can guess what it stands for! I hope to finish the draft by the end of February or early March. But honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if it took a little while longer. Wrapping up this novel is a bit challenging. One thing I’ve learned from writing a series is the truth of Tolkien’s words: the tale grew in the telling.
And now for Dan’s latest book: The Blood of Faeries:
Allison Lee wilts under the bright light of celebrity after being exposed as a shape-shifting monster. She’d rather be behind the camera than in front of it. Being under the tooth and claw of her monstrous mother is even less enjoyable. All she desires is for everything to go back to the way things were before she discovered her true nature.
But, after she accidentally kills a mysterious man sent to kidnap her, she realizes piecing her old life back together is one gnarly jigsaw puzzle. When Allison’s sometimes boyfriend Haji goes missing, Allison and her squad suspect his unhealthy interest in magic led to his disappearance. Their quest to find Haji brings them face-to-face with beings thought long ago extinct whose agenda remains an enigma.
I drop back next to Dalia. Her cheeks are flushed, and she’s breathing like she’s setting a personal best at a cross country meet. I yell to be heard over the alarm, “Let me carry you.”
“No, I can keep going.”
I detect a disconcerting sound that makes goosebumps rise up my arms and neck. The distant thumping of boots up ahead, coming toward us.
I stop. Dalia keeps moving, tugging at my arm. Halting she turns toward me, face soured with desperation. “What is it?”
“More guards.” I point in the direction we’re headed, then to our rear. “We’re surrounded.”
“Miss Lee, I must insist you surrender.” Ms. Bergman’s husky voice booms through the hallway. “Surrender now, and your little friend dies quickly. If you continue this inane escape attempt, I’ll make sure she begs for the sweet release of death, and I won’t grant it.”
“Never!” I shout at Bergman. “Never!” I turn to Dalia, my decision made. “That room.” I point to a door to our right. It must be another transfusion room. “Get inside.”
The clomp of the boots amplifies. Bergman’s rant rebounds through the hallway.
“Now, Dalia! I’m going to transform. I don’t want to crush you by accident.”
To my relief, Dalia nods and scampers to the door.
I close my eyes and prepare for the excruciating pain of transformation. I hope Haji isn’t among the guards because I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from hurting him along with everyone else.
I register Dalia’s screams over the din. Opening my eyes, I face her. She stands in the doorway to the room I told her to hide inside.
“You have to see this,” Dalia says.