Story spotlight: “Spy in the Sky” by Tonya D. Price

A young boy who dreams of emigrating to the U.S. to study at MIT comes across a pair of Soviet officers during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and learns there’s far more at stake than he’d ever dreamed in Tonya D. Price’s “Spy in the Sky.”

~ ~ ~

“Spy in the Sky” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

Father Pedro rolled the dial with two fingers. Then he reached back in his robe again. This time he pulled out a small box no more than an inch by two inches. He looked around.

Roberto followed Father Pedro’s lead. There was no one in sight.
“Hold out your hand by your side. Palm up.”

Roberto obeyed and Father Pedro, holding his hand upside down, dropped the small carton in Roberto’s palm. “Film. Five rolls. Do not let anyone know where you got this. Lives are at stake, Roberto. Do you understand?”

“I do.”

“If you are caught, you will be charged as a spy. They will torture you to find out who you were working with.”

“I’m a boy. I went out of curiosity.”

“I don’t think so.”

Roberto thought for a moment. “I work for the Americans as did my father.”

Father Pedro hung his head down as if in prayer. “They will believe you. And they will kill you for it.”

“Then,” Roberto tried to look brave as he imagined his father had been. “I will not get caught.”

—from “Spy in the Sky” in The Golden Door by Tonya D. Price

About Tonya

Tonya is a fiction and non-fiction writer who has published short stories across a variety of genres. She  has an MBA from Cornell University and draws on her extensive high tech executive positions in writing her Business Books For Writers series. Her Fiction River story, “Payback” was included in The Best American Mystery Stories of 2019. She is currently finishing her fifth non-fiction book Managing the Writer’s Money to be released in the spring of 2020.

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Story spotlight: “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” by DeAnna Knippling

A wealthy actress in Hollywood in the 1920s takes on a pair of immigrant faeries as indentured servants in DeAnna Knippling’s “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch,” but she didn’t realize just how high the cost would be to keep them safe.

~ ~ ~

“Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Excerpt

My husband and I were always just on the edge of setting the house-fae free. But there was always something, you know? It was after the Great War, when so many of the fae came over the ocean. Immigrants, only not human ones. Mythological immigrants.

Our house-fae, Ala and Elias, weren’t the pretty ones that you see in woodcuts in fairy-tale books, tall and elegant with long, wispy hair. I don’t know if those kind actually exist. I never seen any, anyhow. The house-fae we had were small, and gray, and wrinkled, and kinda ugly. But cute. I hadta stop myself from pinching their cheeks, when they first arrived. It woulda been rude.

I got them for a literal song, a sweet lullaby that I used to sing to our son, before he was killed in a car accident with Timothy’s parents. I don’t remember the song anymore. It was just the most ridiculous song, I remember that. Did you know you can buy house-fae for a song? But that if you do, you lose the song forever? Two house-fae, one song, and now I can’t remember the song. It’s just gone. I was joking around at the time. Timothy and I were slumming in Little Tokyo, going to clubs, when we stumbled across the two of them begging for work. They looked so sad and lonely that I just started singing to them. It was an impulse. I hadn’t exactly meant to pick up a pair of house-fae, and Timothy and I had words over the incident. But they moved in, and here we are.

— from “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” in The Golden Door by DeAnna Knippling

About DeAnna

DeAnna Knippling is always tempted to lie on her bios. Her favorite musician is Tom Waits, and her favorite author is Lewis Carroll. Her favorite monster is zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors. She lives in Colorado and is the author of the A Fairy’s Tale horror series which starts with By Dawn’s Bloody Light, and other books like The Clockwork Alice, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, and more.

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Interview: “Clouds of Phoenix” by Michèle Laframboise

Blanche, a young girl walking in a cobbled-up exoskeleton, spends hours watching the strange clouds dancing in the Phoenix sky. She soon realizes that their coordinated figures signals a threat. Alas, the adults are too busy to listen to her. Even her sister Lupianne worries more about the oxygen plant’s dropping quotas and her similarly failing social life…

Then, as the cloud dances grow more complex and the temperatures rise to never-seen-before levels, the sisters must join forces with a despised artist to save their budding settlement from total eradication.

Clouds of Phoenix is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Excerpt

Blanche soon found herself on the highest point of the dead city: the temple. At least, that had been how the archeologists named this abstract-patterned floor, surrounding a high table carved into black polished stone, like the sacrificial altar of the ancient religions. In a single leap, the young pioneer reached the top of the massive block.

A quick look at her oxygen puffer light showed a dark green circle. She still had time left to trot outside the “bubble” of breathable air that surrounded the town. Phœnix might be ranked as an “open” world, but its oxygen mass counted only for one percent of the atmosphere, not enough to breathe. The planet’s rating, O-, reflected the scope of the terraforming effort required.

Phoenix had a lesser rate than the “P” planets, soft-climate paradises where any patch of land was in hot demand. However, living on Phœnix was more enjoyable than squeezing families under the pressurized domes of airless worlds or in the bubbles-like cities hovering on gaseous giants.

Calypso, a G4 rated star, solitary and inconspicuous, lingered over the plateau, her light veiled in a milky halo. This halo was due to a thick dust layer hovering in high atmosphere. Those particles, diffusing the green wavelength, generated the sky color.

Blanche crossed her long legs, a tricky task, considering the intricate framework of metal, pumps and pistons enclosing them. Straps rose to her shoulders and encircled her waist to keep her inside the apparatus.

She used her basin and torso to direct the crude robo-servers inserted in the mechanical joints of the frame. She had been clumsy when her father had fitted her with the contraption, but her moves had soon become as natural to her as brushing her hair.

Those mechanical “overalls” enabled Blanche to run, fast. Only an off-road vehicle at full speed could catch up with her… if she let it.

A playful wind lifted her long hair, trying in vain to steal them. Blanche took out a nutrient bar and nibbled at the sweet chocolate and wheat savor.

This was her own precious moment of solitude.

—from Clouds of Phoenix by Michèle Laframboise

The Interview

What inspired you to write Clouds of Phoenix?

Clouds of Phoenix began by an image, of a girl looking up at clouds in the sky. I didn’t even know she was disabled, nor on another planet. Those ideas came later. The disabled girl is a solitary dreamer, and loves the shapes of clouds, like I did in my childhood.

The first version in French (Les nuages de Phoenix) won a literary prize, which is rare for a full-SF novel.

Did you make up any of the science used in your book, and if so, what and why?

I’m a geographer by formation, so there’s a lot of climate science and meteorology in the story, most based on actual sciences. The color of the sky is explained by a certain size of particles hovering in altitude. The catastrophe that threatens the colony if nothing is done is also explained in details.

I made up the “mood T shirt” of a character, which was cool when I came up with it about twenty years ago. On the purely human side, I imagined a disabled Blanche running fast in her cobble-up exoskeleton. Who wouldn’t love to see wheelchair-confined friends walking and running again with a little help ?

What are some of your favorite YA books as a reader, and what makes them stand out for you?/ Why do you think so many people, of all ages, love reading YA?

I searched my shelves, and my Goodreads, to find very few YA titles. If I can put a title, there is a book for adults, Watership Down, by Richard Adams, that described the rabbits with a lot of realism. That story I read 4 times, as I did Lord of the Rings.

I read indiscriminately every “age”, even some middle-grade books by Carl Hiaasen that are way funny (Hoots comes to mind). Before that I read the series Fantomette (by french author Georges Chaulet, about a young caped heroine) until my teenager years. I read more recently a Japan samurai trilogy by Genevieve Blouin, an historical piece.

In general, I love the social commentary in the YA books (of course, there is some in any book, but the voice is special), the alien environment, the adventure that this constrained (and confined!) life can’t bring. Especially Science fiction and fantasy. I like the originality, the voice, the humor, the historical exploration, and going as far from our here and now as possible. Exception: when it’s a contemporary teenage high-school-drama-oh-my-god-its-prom-night-and-I-don’t-have-a-date, I can’t relate at all. I’m not the age of that public and my school days were a different kind of hell that the glossy & glittery covers would suggest. But for any other books, when the drama does not rest solely on the young age of the protag, and when there’s cool older characters around (like in my own YA stories), I’m in.

Happiness is diving into a good story and emerging after, feeling refreshed.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I am currently working on a steampunk trilogy with a different style of narration for each one of the trilogy. First novel is done and in revision. Cover art done.

It is fun to build and enrich a culture, coming up with inventions, names, idioms (a lot of those!). It is a risky project but I love building that universe and its inhabitants. The specific narrative quirks of a steampunk period were a novelty for me, even if I had read a fair number of them.

However, anything signed Laframboise cannot redo the thousands of stories set in Alternate-Victorian era, in London City (love ‘em, read a lot of ‘em, but won’t imitate). So mine is set very, very far in the future… with a tiny cup of tea and big blimps.

My biggest hurdle is… coming up with names, and with believable events leading to the world I present. My science background does help, but it makes me take more time researching! As for the names, mine are often lame when I begin a story. Sometimes I begin with a name and will change it mid-novel, because something better knocked me on the head.

I don’t have a fixed method yet, it seems like a few strong SOW scenes (not just images, actions, emotions), that I later link with other beads. It’s like doing a puzzle. At a point, I feel that the story is ready, ripe for the typo edits.

About Michèle

Michèle Laframboise feeds coffee grains to her garden plants, runs long distances and writes full-time. Fascinated by sciences and nature since she could walk, she draws from her scientific background to create worlds filled with humor, invention and wonder. Michèle has published 19 novels and about 45 short-stories in French and English, earning various distinctions in Canada and Europe.

Find Michèle

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Find The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/YA.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Grab the bundle today! You’re not only getting a fabulous deal, you’re also helping make the world a better place!

   
 

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Interview: “Night of the Hidden Fang” by T. James Logan

Mia’s only friend is gone.

Adults are acting weird – well, weirder than normal.

A rash of strange disappearances around town is going all but unnoticed.

When she finds some half-eaten human bones, her safe, suburban world is thrown upside down. Are they her friend’s bones?

Three runaway boys seem to know what’s happening. But what are they running from? And is it going to follow them to her doorstep, even as she’s finally caught the eye of the hunky poet from her English class?

Night of the Hidden Fang is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Excerpt

He whipped out his massive ring of keys as he ran, searching for the right one.

Somewhere, a fire-door slammed. Where had that come from? The back of the dormitory? Somebody making a run for it? Somebody too stupid to realize that this was their last shot at avoiding juvenile detention? What had the kid in the hall been running away from?

A few seconds of fumbling at the door with the five-pound jumble of brass and zinc and steel, and he was inside, running for the stairwell to the second floor, where that camera was mounted.

The hallway was still dark, and the heavy puffing of his breath echoed down the empty, tiled corridor. The light from the bathroom still spilled a skewed rectangle onto the floor and wall. He ran for the bathroom, certain he was going to see some emo junkie hanging from a shower head by a bedsheet or left in a beaten bloody pile.

But when he reached the bathroom, he saw no such thing. Nothing at all in fact. Empty. Spic-and-span. Not even a dribble of errant urine on the floor, even though the kid who had run looked like he had practically peed himself. But what was this? Two long parallel scratches gouged into the paint of a toilet stall door, about two feet from the floor, so fresh that flakes of paint still hung from the edges. Why would someone want to deface the door so close to the floor? Most graffiti or vandalism happened at eye level.

Somewhere a door slammed, then a strange scratching-running sound. He pulled his Maglite and ran toward the noise. Sounded like it came from the door to the far stairwell. This building held three floors of boys ages six to eighteen, with the oldest boys on the top floor. At the far end of the hallway, the plastic box covering the light switches and thermostat controls were shattered, as if by a hammer. Shards of plastic littered the floor.

He flipped the switches, and the hallway lights flickered on. Another slamming fire-door, this one far below, drew him in a gasping rush into the stairwell. Looking over the banister down well, he saw a flicker of shadow disappear through the fire door. He charged down the stairs two and three and a time. Shelly would kill him if he fell and broke his neck. Seconds later, he plowed through the fire door back out into the night air. The rattle of the chain link fence snagged his ears. A trio of shadows landed on the other side of the fence, shapes barely glimpsed in the darkness before they dashed into the cornfield beyond with the rustle of leaves.

—from Night of the Hidden Fang by T. James Logan

The Interview

What inspired you to write Night of the Hidden Fang?

The initial kernel of an idea came from a dream my ex-wife had about three boys on the run from from their abusive soccer coach, and they jumped out of the woods naked along a bike trail, asking for help. So, that was the beginning of the book that would become Night of the Hidden Fang. The book has since evolved into what will be a trilogy. I finished Dawn of the Deadly Fang earlier this year, and am planning for Day of the Broken Fang in Winter 2021.

Why do you think so many people, of all ages, love reading YA?

For younger readers, it’s because they want to read stories about young adults their own age or maybe a little older facing adversity and overcoming obstacles. For older readers, I think it’s a desire to recapture youth, to remember the passions of young love, adventure, discovery, in ways that they can’t experience anymore. It might also be a desire for simpler stories. I don’t mean simplistic, because books like The Hunger Games are not “simple.” But my sense is that the storytelling in YA fiction is more direct, less prone to literary obfuscation or experimentation. My sense is that most YA audiences want a rollicking good story without an overabundance of literary bent.

Did you make up any of the science used in your book, and if so, what and why?

Well, the monsters in my book are SF based, but I invented a lycanthropic plague that transmitted by saliva. So if you get bitten, it’s highly likely you’ll get lycanthropy. But I also played around with some real-life viral weirdness to have it react different with our main character’s DNA. I wanted to keep it close enough to real science to be plausible, even though we’re talking about shapeshifting critters. I also made conservation of mass a concern, so a person weighs as much in their monster form as they do in their human form.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on the first volume of a new urban fantasy/cultivation trilogy called Shinjuku Shadows. Book One is called Tokyo Blood Magic.

One of the things I loved about it was exploring Tokyo and a couple of historical sites, but virtually. Because of the pandemic, my family and I had to cancel a long-planned trip to Japan. It would have been the first time I’d been back to Japan since moving back to the States, so that was a painful disappointment. So writing this book gave me a chance to play in Tokyo with Google Maps and Street View. It was also somewhat of an escapist experience to write in a world of monsters and magic, while the real world grinds to a halt.

About T. James Logan

Bestselling author T. James Logan writes a lot of different kinds of things, from science fiction, fantasy, and horror to working on roleplaying games and screenplays. In his persona as T. James Logan, he loves to recapture bits of childhood, those times when a glimpse of a werewolf on television kept him up at night, those times when crushes were crushing, and those moments of youthful exuberance when the world was all possibilities.

He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his family, plus a dog and a cat, neither of which are lycanthropes—at least he’s pretty sure.

Find T. James Logan

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Find The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/YA.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Grab the bundle today! You’re not only getting a fabulous deal, you’re also helping make the world a better place!

   
 

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Interview: “Fractured Memories” by Jo Schneider

Sixteen year old Wendy never knew the world before the Starvation. She’s learned to put her trust in her knives and her confidence in her fighting ability. When the Skinnies attack her compound, she’s the lone survivor.

Injured and near death, Wendy is rescued and nursed back to health by mysterious strangers. Her saviors offer her a place among them, but trust has never been one of Wendy’s strengths, and suspicion soon leads to evidence that these people might be the group who killed her family.

The decision to take the settlement down from the inside out is easy, keeping her distance from the first friends she has ever cared about proves to be much more difficult.

Fractured Memories is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Excerpt

The two girls crossed the twenty feet between the outer buildings and the massive log wall separating the Den from the surrounding forest. The wall stood three times as tall as Wendy and could withstand an assault by a hoard of Skinnies. Wendy knew from personal experience.

A small ledge ringed the wall on the inside so guards could walk around and defenders could have a place to hide. Three men were gathered on the west side of the gate, all looking out.

“Has there been a follow-up signal?” Wendy asked.

One of the men, Grant, turned to look down at Wendy. “Not yet.”

Kenzie glanced over her shoulder. “Where’s Dad?”

Wendy climbed up the nearest ladder. Kenzie followed.

“How long has it been?” Wendy asked.

“Four minutes,” Grant said after he checked his watch.

“Too long,” Wendy said under her breath. Members of the watch were supposed to send a second signal within two minutes. Was it friend or foe? She had to stand on tiptoe to see over the sharpened ends of the logs.

“Who’s out there?” Kenzie asked Wendy, who organized the watch and patrol rosters.

“Liz and Hector.” Both were reliable. Both had been here for over a year. They knew the protocols. Why hadn’t they signaled?

“Five minutes,” Grant said.

Wendy shifted her weight from foot to foot. She glanced over her shoulder to search for her dad. This should be his call. A handful of faces looked up from below, but none of them were Ed’s.

Kenzie leaned over and whispered, “We should send someone.”

For all of Kenzie’s girlie manners and emotional tendencies, she was a good tactician. Better than Wendy.

Wendy studied the woods with the eye of a hawk, looking for small movements contrary to the wind, rustles of bushes that normally stayed still or foreign sounds.

Nothing.

“Six minutes,” Grant said.

The group continued to watch. The sun, which only a few moments before had brought warmth and cheer into the world, now beat down on Wendy like a hammer. The breeze disrupted any sounds they might have heard, and the clear sky caused dark shadows deep enough that anything could be lurking.

It only took five minutes to get from the Den to the watch point, and that was if you were walking. Wendy could run it in three.

Which meant something was wrong.

—from Fractured Memories by Jo Schneider

The Interview

What inspired you to write Fractured Memories?

This sounds really cheesy, but this book actually came from a dream I had in college. In the dream I woke up in a small cave, lying on a round bed (no idea where that came from), and there was a man with his back to me sitting at an old wooden desk. The only light came from a single candle on the desk. Through the process of editing and revisions, the scene changed so much it’s no longer recognizable, but that’s where the whole series started.

Why do you think so many people, of all ages, love reading YA?

For me, and I feel for a lot of people, the journey of a teenager finding their way in the world is both familiar and satisfying. I don’t think the process of finding yourself ever really ends, and YA books give readers a chance to see others struggling with and overcoming life, the universe, and everything.

What is fun, and what is challenging, about writing in a post-apocalyptic world?

I fell in love with post-apocalyptic fiction the first time I watched the original Planet of the Apes in the middle of the night. I was maybe twelve, and had a 12” black and white tv in my room. Super fancy, I know. The very end with the Statue of Liberty really freaked me out…and got my imagination fired up. The same things that make writing in a post-apocalyptic world challenging are also fun. Trying to figure out how people would react and what would happen when the world ends is honestly what the genre is all about, but even more important, it’s about how your characters decide to survive. Exploring the psychology of people and society is fun for me. Also, monsters. And sometimes I like killing characters.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

My latest project is an epic science fiction series about a group of teenagers that volunteer for the military in order to save their pacifist parents from having to go. There is power armor, giant fleets, a character who I may or may not have modeled after Zuco from Avatar, and young love, all under the backdrop of clashing political goals and a traitor who will sacrifice anyone or anything to be king.

About Jo

Jo Schneider grew up in the wild west, and finds mountains helpful in telling which direction she is going. Her lifelong goals include: travel to all seven continents, become a Jedi Knight and receive a death threat from a fan. So far she’s been to five continents, has a black belt in Kempo and is still working on the death threat.

Being a geek at heart, Jo has always been drawn to science fiction and fantasy. She writes both and hopes to introduce readers to worlds that wow them and characters they can cheer for.

Find Jo

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Find The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/YA.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Grab the bundle today! You’re not only getting a fabulous deal, you’re also helping make the world a better place!

   
 

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Interview: “The Black Opal” by Linda Jordan

Mira’s twin sister disappears. Taken to another world, possibly murdered.

With no other choice, Mira must act.

She can’t let her own failure at magic block the search for Amanda.

The Black Opal is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Excerpt

Mira smelled the neighbor’s lilacs as she walked down the gravel road. Stray clumps of grass and weeds splashed dew into her crocs, and her feet squished around inside the shoes. She looked at the beautiful view of Puget Sound. It would be a gorgeous spring day, rare and sunny.

But it wasn’t enough to make Mira forget her miserable life. She’d screwed up again and this time Aunt Rita had sent her to Mom’s house. For good.

Mira had been crying for two days, now she just felt empty. Her life held no hope and no future.

She turned back towards the house, pausing to empty a piece of gravel from one shoe.

Then she realized that something felt very wrong. Half a block away, shadows barreled through the mist. A huge hand-shaped cloud appeared out of nowhere, passed over the sun and darkened the row of poplars beside Mom’s house. Shivering in the sudden cold and absence of all sound; she smelled the burnt air. It left a bitter taste in her mouth.

She began to run, slipping and sliding in her wet crocs.

The shadows closed in and the creatures took shape as two huge black dogs. They moved like one, legs and breathing synchronized, toward Mira’s identical twin, Amanda. And her son, Dylan.

Amanda had her back to the hounds, absorbed in Dylan’s play. Oblivious to the threat. Her three year old golden child ran circles around his mom. She sat on the front lawn. The long red hair tied up in a ponytail made her look younger than eighteen. She laughed, ducking the clumps of wet grass which Dylan threw up into the air.

“Amanda! Look out!” screamed Mira. She ran past the massive cedar stump towards them. “Get Dylan in the house!”

Amanda scrambled to her feet and turned towards the dogs. Dylan ran behind her. The hounds leapt at them. Saliva ran from their mouths. Amanda fell backwards on top of Dylan. He wriggled beneath her, trying to get out.

Mira gasped for breath as she ran, helplessly watching Amanda punch the creatures. Hollow thuds echoed as her sister’s fists landed. Amanda screamed, but the hounds were relentless in their assault. Their jaws snapped and slavered, easily avoiding her fists and feet.

Mira was there. As she bashed them the sounds of her foot hitting reverberated in the eerie silence.

“Get away! Go!” she screamed.

She looked around for something else to hit them with. There was nothing. When she kicked one in the head, it glared at her with icy-white eyes, then returned to the attack.

To Mira’s horror they ripped into Amanda’s belly. No blood flowed, but something came loose. A gold object pulsed, reaching tendrils back towards Amanda, as if trying to stay with her. The dogs strained and pulled. The thing, like a golden tropical flower, was severed from Amanda.

—from The Black Opal by Linda Jordan

The Interview

What inspired you to write The Black Opal?

I was inspired to write The Black Opal after having a dream. The entire first and part of the second chapter came from a dream I had. The book absolutely demanded to be written.

What are some of your favorite YA books as a reader, and what makes them stand out for you?

Some of my favorite YA books, hmm. Of course there’s all the Harry Potter books which are my comfort food. I’m going to list some older books you might not be familiar with because they were the first ones I read. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman. I also loved The Book of Dust, but haven’t read any beyond that yet. Judith Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing and also Cybele’s Secret. I adore Laini Taylor’s writing. Lips Touch, Smoke & Bone, Dreamdark. I haven’t read everything of hers. I tend to leave books sitting on my TBR pile for when I need a big reward. Several of hers are there. Also Kristen Cashore’s wonderful series Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue. And Maggie Stiefvater’s Ballad & Lament. The last two books I’ll leave you with are: The Grand Tour and Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermermer. There are so many more than these and I could go on all day but I’ll stop so you can go pick these up and read them!

Why do you love writing about dragons?

I love writing about dragons because they’re amazing beings. And they’re individuals, just like humans. They have incredibly complex social networks, although some are solitary beings. They’re smart and magical and simply extraordinary.

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

I love writing about mythology. My brain works with archetypes and symbols and myths are full of them. I love reading a myth, which is really just a condensed story without the details, and trying to unravel what the original teller meant. What the myth said about their culture and world.

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

There is so much more about mythology I haven’t used in stories. And because myths are so deep, I could use the same myth in several stories in completely different ways. The beings of myth are almost endless. I can’t think of anything I haven’t used that I’d like to in particular because I don’t plan out my stories that way anymore. Maybe another phoenix story. And I’d like to explore the myths of other cultures and see what comes up.

If you could be a fantasy creature for a day, which would you choose, and why?

If I could be any fantasy being it would probably be a dragon. Besides the flying thing, I’d love to breathe fire and plummet into the ocean. And hang out with other dragons of course.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Right now I’m working on a secondary world fantasy. One that has no connection with our world. I’m in the beginning stages so I won’t talk too much about it. There are several main characters and at least one dragon has shown up already. I have no idea who else might decide to be in the story.

I love improvising while writing so whoever wants to show up in my stories is always a surprise to me. That’s what keeps it fun. Plus a brand new world to explore. One that’s unlike any world I’ve written about ever!

About Linda

Linda Jordan writes fascinating characters, visionary worlds, and imaginative fiction. She creates both long and short fiction, serious and silly. She believes in the power of healing and transformation, and many of her stories follow those themes.

In a previous lifetime, Linda coordinated the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. She’s also worked as a travel agent, a baker, and a pond plant/koi sales person, you know, the sort of things one does as a writer. Currently, she’s the Programming Director for the Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest.

She lives in the rainy wilds of Washington state with her husband, daughter, four cats, a cluster of Koi and an infinite number of slugs and snails.

Find Linda

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Interview: “Fighting the Morrigan’s Hand” by Meyari McFarland

Aravel stood at the bow of the Harmonious Song, studying the twin cities of Yuzuki and Masumi in Chinwendu. Halfway around the world from home, Aravel didn’t expect to find an old enemy stirring up the same stupid strife from home.

But Delbhana Cahan had married into the Ito and turned them against Aravel’s cousins in the Damura so it fell to him to fix the problem.

No matter what the cost.

Fighting the Morrigan’s Hand is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Excerpt

“I wish you greetings, cousin of the Dana Family line of Aingeal of Aingeal City,” the Dock Mistress said. “I am Damura Kamiko, Dock Mistress of the Trade Docks of Masumi City of Chinwendu, fourth daughter of the third son of the lady of the Damura.”

“I thank you for your greetings, elder cousin Tamura Kamiko,” Aravel replied. “I am Dana Aravel of the line direct of the Dana Family of Aingeal of Aingeal City, second son of the first daughter of the first daughter of the Dana Clan. This is Dana Colleen, my Grandmother’s fourth daughter’s second daughter who will be handling the trade and paperwork for Minoo while we are here. I would visit with our relatives at the bequest of my Great-Uncle Jarmon who was first son of Tamura Tau, who married my Great-Grandmother Anwyn and founded our Clan with her in Aingeal.”

Kamiko’s eyes went wide. She licked her lips and bowed very slightly, conveying her worry quite well without saying a word. Aravel pressed his lips together and let his eyes smile just as much as they wanted to while bowing back just a bit deeper to say that yes, of course she could ask.

“One would hope that the visit is not formal,” Kamiko said.

“One would be quite right to worry about that,” Aravel replied so brightly that Aunt Colleen snorted behind him and the two attendants shut their eyes and pressed their lips together so that they wouldn’t visibly show amusement beyond what was appropriate to their rank. “If the visitor were of greater age. A visit of one below the age of maturity is, of course, never a matter of great formality. And this one,” he gestured towards himself with a bright grin that made Kamiko swallow a laugh, “is not yet of age in either Chinwendu or Aingeal. Thus all formalness is avoided and pleasantness can abound for all.”

That did get a laugh, not just from Kamiko but from a passing sailor who’d naturally eavesdropped on the conversation while carefully not meeting anyone’s eyes. And from the Harbor Mistress, a stern eighty-some year old woman who was broad of shoulder, narrow of hip and flat of bust as most Chinwenduese chosen-women were. She shook her head, coming over to stare at first Aravel’s insignia and then at his face for a long moment.

“It has been long since the Dana have sent a formal representative to the port,” the Harbor Mistress said to Kamiko but she was really talking to Aravel.

Introductions would be required if they were to speak directly and since she was wearing green and brown, that would mean going through the whole rigmarole of determining exactly where the Dana ranked in Chinwenduese politics today. Versus yesterday or tomorrow or last year. Not worth the bother for anyone, honestly.

Kamiko hummed and nodded, staring thoughtfully into the distance while rocking on her heels. “One forgets how old the eldest son of Damura Tao is now.”

“One could be very well excused for that,” Aravel said as if talking to the air while Aunt Colleen smothered a laugh in her fist. “Because Dana Jarmon, eldest son, has never admitted to being older than fifty-five even though he has seen seventy-nine summers.”

That made both Kamiko and the Harbor Mistress splutter laughs as they pretended not to hear him. Kamiko nodded sagely, eyes sparkling with laughter before she managed to regain a properly formal expression.

—from Fighting the Morrigan’s hand by Meyari McFarland

The Interview

What inspired you to write the Matriarchies of Muirin collection, which Fighting the Morrigan’s Hand is a part of?

A long time ago, when Stargate Atlantis first came out, I was hugely frustrated that they didn’t spend more time exploring the city. I wanted to see alien cities with all the differences! I started noodling ideas of alien cities and that combined with a conversation I was in on LiveJournal about gender roles, how society’s rules shape our bodies and our perceptions of ourselves, and how power expresses itself in our lives, clothes and interactions.

After a while, it coalesced into Muirin, a world where aliens lurk under the sea (keeping me from the alien city exploring I wanted to do, darn it), women rule and men stay home to take care of the house and children. In petticoats. Because petticoats are, in so many ways a symbol of power, authority, and who gets to have it.

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

Myths, legends and folklore have such depth. They call on a history that goes back hundreds and thousands of years that’s been continually reinterpreted and recreated generation by generation. The stories stay the same and they change at the same time. The resonance they bring is like standing next to a Buddhist temple bell as it’s rung at dawn or dusk. You feel it right down to your bones and you know that there’s something more. How could anyone resist that?

If you could be a fantasy creature for a day, which would you choose, and why?

Dragon! Because dragons are amazing and awesome and fierce and beautiful and I love them. I wouldn’t want to go back to being me again after a day. Unless I couldn’t read or drink tea. Then I’d be much more willing to go back to normal.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m working on several things currently, depending on what’s inspiring at the moment. I have a contemporary m/nb romance set in Japan that’s based off a trip I made to Japan. Everything that shows up in the story is something that I saw or did personally. I have a Fantasy Regency mystery with magic, cursed books that go blank, and a mama cat moving in at the most inopportune time. And I have the second in an apocalyptic Fantasy series where people’s souls are getting stolen in the middle of a world-destroying war with hidden mages who take over people’s bodies. I think they’re all fun, which is why I’m writing all three of them instead of just one at a time.

About Meyari

Meyari McFarland has been telling stories since she was a small child. Her stories range from SF and Fantasy adventures to Romances, but they always feature strong characters who do what they think is right no matter what gets in their way.

Her series range from Space Opera Romance in the Drath series, to Epic Fantasy in the Mages of Tindiere world. Other series include Matriarchies of Muirin, the Clockwork Rift Steampunk mysteries, and the Tales of Unification urban fantasy stories, plus many more.

Find Meyari

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Story spotlight: “La Despedida” by Hedi Framm Anton

Hedi Framm Anton’s “La Despedida” shows two sides of a story of farewell. A young girl lives with her grandmother in Honduras; they wait for a check from her mother, who works in San Francisco, so they can pay the fee the gang members demand every month.

~ ~ ~

“La Despedida” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

Something’s wrong. In my world, things usually go right at least one day a month, Western Union day.

Grandma is moving slow, like the vultures that circle over the garbage dump. She reaches the gate and pushes it open. I stand there, one hand on Mister, who backs up a little, hides behind my skinny legs.

“No money today,” says Grandma.

The mareros will be stopping by any day now. Last month they wanted ten dollars. I heard Grandma and senora Gladys whispering about it. They were talking about how la renta—the protection money—was going up.

I stand still, wondering what I did wrong that Mama didn’t send it this month. Maybe my letter didn’t get to her. Maybe Mama’s mad because I didn’t finish my homework, missed half a day of school. I should have taken a bath this morning, but the water pump dried up again.

—from “La Despedida” in The Golden Door by Hedi Framm Anton

About Hedi

Immigration lawyer 40+ years, specializing in removal defense/political asylum. Travels frequently to Peru and works with NGOs in outskirts of Lima. Primarily interested in adolescents, empowering the vulnerable. Lives in San Francisco. Hoping to retire in two years.

Find Hedi

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Interview: “One Bad Wish” by Bonnie Elizabeth

Willow Vaughn grants wishes. She granted one just the other night. But now the world feels wrong.

Willow knows her world has changed but how? Cynical and self-reliant, suddenly she feels out of her depth. Though she hates to admit it, she needs help.

Willow is going to have to find someone who knows more about wishes before it’s too late. If not, she could be trapped in a world where she doesn’t belong.

One Bad Wish is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Excerpt

Being a fairy godmother isn’t something I ever intended to become. I mean, I wasn’t born that way—now that’s a scary thought, me in a fairy dress and sparkles all over me as a baby. Yuck. No, I wished the fairy godmother gig into being kind of by accident, and I’ve been stuck granting wishes for the last six months or so.

It’s not all bad. Basically, I’d been lucky—or unlucky, depending upon your point of view—to have made the wish that started it all. In a nutshell, I met this creepazoid old guy at the Farmer’s Market who told me to make a wish. So I stupidly wished to make people happy, meaning someone, anyone, because although I had done exactly what I had told my mother I said I would do, she was still not happy. And wham. There I was. A Fairy Godmother. There’s more, of course, but that’s a whole other story.

Being able to grant wishes is kind of cool. About once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, I get this urge, like a pressure and I have to go out and find someone wishing for something. It’s not that hard. I can think about a place that draws people to make wishes, you know, like wishing wells and crap like that, or I can just think myself over to someone wishing. Then I grant the wish.

I don’t get a lot of choice in how it happens. I mean, I grant a lot of cute kittens to cute kids and stuff. I’ve wanted to grant a zombie cat instead, but the magic doesn’t work that way. Probably a good thing, because I’m not really sure what would happen to the world if I was able to grant zombie kittens.

But yeah, that’s how I think. Even so, I’m not sure I’d really do something like that, but it’s kind of cool to think about the implications and everything, ya know? I mean, cute kid wants cat and I send them a re-animated creature straight out of the LOLcat version of the Walking Dead?

Unfortunately I don’t get to talk to people about this much. It’s a secret that I’m a fairy godmother. Although, would you really go around saying, “Hey, yeah, I’m a fairy godmother now!” Cause that’s just weird. Besides, I’d get everyone wanting me to grant their wishes.

It’s bad enough that I can always hear sentences that start with “I wish”. In high school, at least my high school, people are always saying “I wish this” or “I wish that.” Really, really annoying when you’re someone who hears about wishes. Fortunately, I can’t grant them all, largely because I don’t want to, not to mention that most of the things people say aren’t real wishes, even if they do start with “I wish.” But even if I could, there are rules. I’m not even sure what all the rules are. There’s this huge book of rules that I got when I became a fairy godmother—a file just appeared on my computer, can you believe it?—but besides being major league style boring it’s pretty vague about a ton of stuff. Come to think of it, there’s probably something in there about why I can’t grant zombie kittens, but I’m not going to go digging for it.

Last night, I think I granted a wish I shouldn’t have or something. Remember what I said about zombie kittens? I don’t get a choice. If you’re there wishing and I’m there with wish-granting power, well Kabam! The wish is yours. No matter what. Even if it’s a bad wish.

—from One Bad Wish by Bonnie Elizabeth

The Interview

What inspired you to write One Bad Wish?

I wrote the origin story of Willow Vaughn for a Fiction River anthology edited by Rebecca Moestra. She was an incredibly voicy character who had opinions about everything. She was also not the sort of person you expected when you heard the words, “fairy godmother.”

Because of that, I had to write more Willow Vaughn stories. Some of them ended up being YA novels rather than short stories. One Bad Wish, of course, explores what happens when Willow grants a really bad wish and what she has to do to make it right.

What are some of your favorite YA books as a reader, and what makes them stand out for you?

Like everyone else in the world, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I started reading them about the time the third book came out. In fact, I’d just finished books 1 and 2 when book 3 came out so it was perfect timing. I was working in a bookstore and this was before everyone was in love with Harry. I think that really hit our store about book 4. I remember we opened early the morning book 4 came out and we had costumes and such to wear for patrons.

As for why it stands out for me, as a reader, it’s just a darned good story.

I am also a huge Feyland fan. I love the world Anthea created and she writes with such a deft touch. It’s wonderful to imagine being able to walk into a fairy world, and be able to affect the world was fun. I liked how she set up the premise as well.

If you could be a fantasy creature for a day, which would you choose, and why?

I’d have to be a dragon. I mean, who wouldn’t want the power and the beauty of that? And they can fly!

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Right now I’m between projects. I just finished writing one short story a week for a year and I also have a three book paranormal cozy mystery series that will be coming out in July or August. My main character is a psychic who can read impressions from objects. She can also see the ghost of her grandmother’s favorite Siamese cat.

I’m moving into something that’s more urban fantasy and I expect that that will be most fun because of the way I’m using the cats in that book. They are important to the story and I want them to shine. I’ve rarely used cats as spotlight characters, just secondary characters, so this will be fun.

About Bonnie

Bonnie Elizabeth has been a writer since she was eight years old. While she always kept writing, she also floated through a variety of jobs including veterinary receptionist, library assistant, cemetery administrator, and licensed acupuncturist, all of which color her stories.

Bonnie writes in a variety of genres. While most of her work is geared towards adults, her Teenage Fairy Godmother series featuring Willow Vaughn is geared towards younger readers.

Bonnie makes her home in Kentucky with her husband and three cats, one of which channels his inner Willow on a regular basis.

Find Bonnie

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Interview: “Blazing Blunderbuss” by Nix Whittaker

Dragons have changed history forever.

Gideon is the top of the food chain but when he is kidnapped he is trapped in his human form until Hara rescues him. Hara isn’t looking for trouble but she seems to attract it when they accidentally steal a pirate airship and are thrust into a conspiracy that could bring war to the Empire.

Hara is running from her past when she stumbles across Gideon, an academic in need of rescuing. Only he is a dragon and he wants to collect her into his treasure. She isn’t about to let anyone tell her what to do ever again.

Blazing Blunderbuss is available for a limited time in The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle.

Whether you’re looking for a pulse-pounding action in space, a witchy urban fantasy mystery, or a sweeter tale of unicorns and magic, this MegaBundle delivers! This bundle includes 28 books, including award-winning books from NYTimes and USA Today bestselling authors. Since money is tight for a lot of people right now, the floor of this bundle at a mere dollar, but if you’re in a position to spend a little more for this great collection, please do.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Excerpt

Light cracked into the wooden box Gideon was trapped in. He didn’t find himself locked into a wooden box very often, so he watched the crack widen with curiosity. There was a loud snap and the lid of the box was removed completely.

Gideon looked up at the men who stared down at him. He didn’t jump up and try to escape, as success wasn’t likely with the bands around his wrists. The bands seemed innocuous, but they made sure he hadn’t escaped from the moment he woke up in the small, coffin-like box. He had already tried to shift his form, but when he couldn’t, he had studied his very small surroundings. That was when he had discovered the bands around his wrists. He hadn’t been able to see them in the dark, but he had guessed what they were when he couldn’t shift his shape.

Whoever had organised to kidnap him had known well their task. The bands were made out of the elements which had first drawn him to this world, and it made things a little sticky when it came to his ability to change into his true form.

He didn’t think he was in his home city anymore either. He had been knocked out and he had woken up in this box, and that had been hours before, or possibly even days.

A man growled and all the men looking down at Gideon stepped away. Gideon eased into a sitting position and studied the room around him. The seedy room had no windows. It looked like a rundown tavern room set aside for private guests, complete with peeling wallpaper which had once been lovely, but was now faded and stained. The furniture was sparse and also faded. The flower pattern on the fabric now looked like children’s finger painting.

He had been placed in the middle of the room. The box was uncomfortably shaped like a coffin. The room itself was mostly filled with men. About half a dozen of them glared at Gideon, though he wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve the dark looks. The men all wore tall black boots wrapped with leather straps. They had an abundance of fur on the rest of their clothes. They sure did look warm, and Gideon wished he had some of their fur, as it was cold in the room.

Gideon grinned and said, “Is it possible for one of you to turn up the heat just a tad? My bones are quite brittle at my age.” Everyone ignored his comment as Gideon looked around to find which one of the men was in charge.

The man who had growled at the others earlier said, “Are you Gideon, the mathematician?”

Gideon studied the men. He wasn’t used to being referred to as merely a mathematician. Usually there was an epithet in front of it, like “annoying” or “moron”. He rather liked “moron mathematician” as it was an alliteration and there was some symmetry to the insult. He had worked at the university in the capital for the last four decades as a professor, and even they did not call him merely a mathematician.

Gideon turned to look at the man before he said, “I’m a mathematician, but I’m not sure I’m the one you want. I know this mathematician who looks just like me, we have the same tailor. I’m sure he would be happy to help you out, but I’m afraid my plants are going to miss me. I’m sure they’re already wilting.”

The man shrugged. Older than most of the others in the room and had a white peppered beard. His fur hat covered oily hair. He stepped forward. “I am Nikolai. And if you are a mathematician, then you are the one we want. The men who procured you for us would not have made a mistake lightly.”

Gideon had been studying the other men in the room and the room itself when Nikolai’s last sentence grabbed his attention. “Someone procured me for you?”

—from Blazing Blunderbuss by Nix Whittaker

The Interview

What inspired you to write Blazing Blunderbuss?

I was watching one of those documentaries that are really fake but a kind of what if situation about dragons. And I started thinking what if dragons were real. Except you don’t get many creatures on earth with wings and four legs and a tail. So if dragons couldn’t really evolve on our planet where would they come from. And that started me on my story. I have dragons from another planet who use science so advanced it looks like magic to come to earth. They are fleeing the total destruction of their planet but only the men took the risk to travel across the void to Earth.

It allows me to play with another culture that gets misunderstood and people trying to figure out their place in the world.

What are some of your favorite YA books as a reader, and what makes them stand out for you?

Tamora Pierce and her Alanna series is one of my top favourites. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. As you can see I love female protagonists who don’t quite fit in but through determination and strength of character they carve a place for themselves. They don’t apologise for being different and instead surround themselves with people who accept them for who they are.

Why do you think so many people, of all ages, love reading YA?

I think it is because they want to rewrite history. The great thing about books is being able to escape. To live out scenarios where we are brave and resourceful. Where we beat the evil in our lives and live happily ever after. We can relive our younger years and tell ourselves that is how we would have faced our problems when we were younger.

Why do you love writing about dragons?

What isn’t there to love about dragons? My dragons come from another world so I love writing about their culture. And usually how humans misunderstand their culture. I’m a white girl and so I find it hard to write the Other. But I also desperately want to write the Other. So instead I made my own culture up where I don’t have to worry about stepping on people’s toes but still get to explore how we react to a culture we don’t understand or don’t know. And how we also have a lot in common if we are only willing to get to know the other. What better way than to use dragons. Some cultures revere them while others consider them maiden eating monsters.

If you could be a fantasy creature for a day, which would you choose, and why?

I wanted to say unicorn as that would be pretty cool but that is so generic. Selkie is therefore my choice. I couldn’t think of anything better than being able to swim to the depths of the ocean and then when I wanted to strip off my skin and walk on the shore. No need to sell your voice to get those legs and I’d just be careful to keep an eye on my skin.

Which steampunk tropes did you use in your book, and how did you change them to fit your story?

I have an airship and inventors. My airship is the home for the Found Family in my story. I liked that idea of a home that is forever moving. I moved from South Africa to New Zealand when I was a young girl. Many thought we were traitors to move countries and I wanted a story where nationalism and that sense of home is different. So I have a moving home. I combined my inventor with a hidden or secret identity so she doesn’t do much inventing on screen. Her skills are linked to a troubled past so it is more of a device to show that she is a smart cookie.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

At the moment I’m working on the last book in my Wyvern Mysteries series. Though set in Scotland it has a bit of a western feel as I have train robbery in the middle. That was fun to write. My dad always liked westerns so we would watch them late at night when they were on TV. He passed away last year so I was feeling nostalgic and thought I would do something in my latest book that he would have found fun.

About Nix

Nix Whittaker is an English teacher in the heart of the North Island of New Zealand. She lives with her cats and her dog in the shadow of an active volcano where she writes in her spare time.

Nix started as a reader to help improve her spelling as she is dyslexic, but was hooked by the marvelous worlds of Mercedes Lackey and Terry Pratchett. As time passed and she read out the library, she was forced to write to feed her ferocious need to read. Now her books are influenced by Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop as she is still very much a reader and so writes books she would like to read herself.

Find Nix

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Find The Young Adult Charity MegaBundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/YA.

Half the MegaBundle profits will go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization benefiting children’s literacy.

Grab the bundle today! You’re not only getting a fabulous deal, you’re also helping make the world a better place!

   
 

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