Please make welcome my friend and talented author Dan Rice! We're celebrating his phenomenal new release Dragons Walk Among Us! As a lover of dragons, I have this on my reading list and will be diving into his fictional realm soon. The Tavern is serving apple cider, so grab a mug and let's hear what Dan has to say...
A Message from Dan Rice
What inspired me to write Dragons Walk Among Us? First off, I like stories with dragons. What fantasy fan doesn't, right?
I have distinct memories from childhood of being curled up on the couch beside my mother while she read a picture book about Saint George and the Dragon to me. I don't recall if I ever read the book to myself, but I did spend hours admiring the intricate illustrations of the valiant knight battling the dragon. There have been other dragons in my life, of course. Smaug comes to mind, but George's wyrm was my first love, and my interest in dragons grew from that early childhood experience. Dragons Walk Among Us isn't the first novel I've written featuring dragons, but it is the first to be published.
A theme running through Dragons Walk Among Us is Allison Lee questioning her perception of reality. As Allison comes of age, she uncovers her disturbing heritage. The process of discovery and the hidden knowledge throws her world off-kilter. She steps behind the veil to find another realm that few people know exists. My inspiration for this aspect of the story comes from my fascination with photography and watching reruns of The Twilight Zone as a kid.
Consider photography, specifically time-lapse photography. By opening a camera's shutter for an extended period, you can capture movement––of water, of children running, of the earth through space as depicted by star trails in the night sky.[star trails picture] The camera captures movement while at the same time freezing it to reveal a reality ever so slightly at odds with ordinary experience. The Twilight Zone takes that idea to the extreme with innumerable fables of people getting exactly what they want, such as the man who wishes for quiet and wakes up to a world without people. Anyway, I spent years trying to dream up a concept about an alternate reality intruding on the contemporary everyday world. I was never satisfied with the ideas until I wrote Dragons Walk Among Us.
The final piece of inspiration was an unfortunate incident that happened to my older son at summer camp a few years back. He was teased about his biracial appearance by fellow campers. Being a young lad, he recovered from the incident in short order and moved on as the young often do. Never having experienced racism myself, the incident had a profound impact on me. I considered myself aware of the issue, but it had never been brought to my front door. Indeed, the episode provided some of the inspiration for the themes of bullying and acceptance in Dragons Walk Among Us. I envision Allison Lee as a teenage biracial girl who suffers the earthly woes of bullying and exams while also maybe, just maybe, being able to see dragons.
Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl's abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.
While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison's life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she'll never see again. Despair sets in until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?
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Sneak preview from Dragons Walk Among Us
I stop at the sink to wash my hands. The door to the locker room creaks open. I look in the mirror both to admire my green hair and to catch a glimpse of the interloper. I clench my jaw. It’s Leslie staring at me balefully.
“Your photograph is fake.” Leslie snarls. “Just like you. Fake. Fake like your hair. Ugly like your slanted eyes.”
I freeze, the lukewarm water cascading over my hands. The words remind me of a fact I try to ignore. The reality that my face is a mixture of Asian and Caucasian features. My cheeks pale as Leslie marches across the locker room.
“You don’t deserve this.” She snatches my plaque off the counter. “Your photo isn’t documentary or photojournalism. It’s a portrait of your friend.”
She looms inside my personal space, scowling down her nose at me. The standoff might last for five seconds or five minutes for all I know. With a scoff, she twirls away and strides for the exit, pausing to deposit my plaque in the trash can.
Meet the Author
Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.
Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He is currently writing the sequel to Dragons Walk Among. You can explore his blog at https://www.danscifi.com.
Connect with Dan here