Please make welcome to the Tavern the talented Dan Rice! We're celebrating his new book release, The Blood of Faeries (The Allison Lee Chronicles Book 2). I'm eager to hear what Dan has to say about his new story, so grab a cup of cider and settle in...
A Message from Dan Rice
Themes for Young Adults
First and foremost, I endeavor to tell rousing adventure tales while writing The Allison Lee Chronicles. Growing up, I was always drawn to fantasy stories because most were quests—high-stakes adventures with epic battles, abominable monsters, wondrous magic, and a sprinkling of romance. But the thrill of the adventure drew me the most to the stories. I think that’s why I enjoy reading young adult novels and writing in the genre.
I also try to include themes I think young adult readers will identify with. In Dragons Walk Among Us, Allison Lee is bullied by the popular girl for being biracial. This is loosely based on my oldest son being harassed at a summer camp for his skin color. The experience was the first time, at least to my knowledge, my son had suffered ill treatment over his innate appearance. While in elementary school, I don't think he noticed the racial diversity of his classmates, but now as a middle schooler, he is very aware of this and remarks on it often.
Diversity is a theme that runs through Dragons Walk Among Us and the sequel The Blood of Faeries. I consciously try to make a cast of characters with diverse backgrounds that mirrors what I see when observing my sons’ friends and while attending school functions. Overall, the student bodies of today are far more diverse than when I was in school. If you want to be relevant to younger readers, you need to give them characters that reflect them and their experiences.
Another theme present throughout The Allison Lee Chronicles is concern for the environment. Allison and her bestie Dalia are young environmentalists determined to help save the planet. I chose this theme for two reasons. First, while writing Dragons Walk Among Us, I saw local and national news stories about high school students suing the federal government over environmental degradation that they feared made the planet less livable. Upon seeing the stories, I thought, here is an issue a cross-section of young readers will identify with. Also, as an amateur nature photographer, I was keen on the subject.
Kirkus Reviews calls The Blood of Faeries “a fun and ferocious adventure.” So I think I've succeeded in penning a thrilling adventure. I hope I was as successful in weaving themes into the story young adult readers will find meaningful.
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.
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Sneak preview from The Blood of Faeries
“Smell magic?” I whisper. “What magic?”
“I don’t know. It’s faint yet distinct.” Mauve sniffs me. “Subtle.”
“You don’t know. What do you mean you don’t know?” Mother put the magic on me, of course. She’s not supposed to cast spells on me. In fact, she promised not to.
Mauve throws up her hands. “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
She learned that line, don’t shoot the messenger, from Haji. I have to tell her he’s missing, but we need to get to somewhere with a bit of privacy first. Plus, we do need to confirm it is Mother’s magic Mauve smells to be safe. There are human magicians running around, and at least one wants me dead.
“Come on.” I lead Mauve to a brick façade at the edge of the mob. I face my friend and whisper, “It must be my mother. You know, she had a tracking spell on me. She promised she removed it. So much for promises.”
“Pull down your hood so I can get a good snuff,” Mauve says. Her draconic neck and head pass through the awning overhead.
In the crowd, someone shouts into a bullhorn. “Where do fossil fuels have to go?”
“Away!” A handful of people reply.
“Now!” scores of people reply.
“Where do fossil fuels have to go?”
“Away!” people scream, some waving signs and others shaking fists.
I pull off my hood. No one will notice us. I hope.
“You’ve changed your hair color,” Mauve says, fingering a few strands of my red locks. “I like it.”
“I preferred green.”
The chanting continues, growing louder with each iteration. Off to the right rumbles an impromptu marching band. An oldster with wild gray hair and a bird’s nest of a beard walks by, toking.
“Pretty wild crowd already, huh?” he says, letting out a puff of marijuana smoke.
I raise my eyebrows. “And the march hasn’t even started.”
“We’ll show those squares at City Hall. People power!” He takes a long blaze on the joint. “You want to take a drag?”
“No thanks,” I say.
“Suit yourself.” He shrugs. “C’ya around. Peace.”
The oldster saunters off, leaving us in a haze. Marijuana smoke sets off my overactive sense of smell––ugh. Mauve buries her face in my hair, sniffing loudly. Her sparkling draconic chest passes through my head and torso, causing me to blink due to its brightness. When my vision clears, a few people are throwing us sideways looks.
Mauve backs away, grimacing. “The marijuana smoke throws off my sense of smell.”
Meet the Author
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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