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Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?
There are two answers. The short answer is that I write YA Fantasy because that’s the genre I read the most growing up. I’ll give some of those book recommendations below!
The longer answer is because in YA Fantasy, we are really dealing with big questions about belonging. Where do I belong? Where do I fit in? What is my place in the world? These are the kinds of questions that linger with us well past adolescence. To some extent, it’s very human to look around the lunch room and wonder where you’re going to sit. That stays with us. Reading and writing YA Fantasy is one way that I use my imagination to truly see where I belong and to help others find their belonging.
What books were your favorites as a youth and why?
In no particular order:
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis because who wouldn’t want to step through a wardrobe into a magical world?
2. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini because it’s Lord of the Rings mixed with Star Wars and that’s a dynamite combination. Also, because Paolini was 15 when he wrote Eragon, and that’s always been aspirational for me.
3. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling, because it was the first series that I read that kept me up late at night reading.
What superpower would you love to have? Why?
I want to be able to teleport. There are so many cool places to see in the world, and being able to instantaneously go anywhere would be awesome. It eliminates the two biggest barriers to travel: time and money.
What book is on your nightstand currently?
I have started reading “The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan, book 1 of “The Wheel of Time” fantasy series. I’ve wanted to read it for a long time, and it’s simply massive. There are fourteen books and the whole series is about 4 million words long. Jordan famously passed away before finishing the series, and his widow tasked Brandon Sanderson to finish it. Sanderson realized the planned twelfth book was much too long for one book, and wrote books 12-14. So, needless to say, this series will be on my nightstand for a long time.
Ideal summer vacation.
I have two ideal summer vacations. For years, my family has traveled to the western coast of Michigan to vacation on Lake Michigan. I love it there. My other ideal vacation is to go up into the mountains, either Colorado or Montana.
Which of your characters would you most like to meet IRL? Why?
This is such a difficult question. My characters grew and developed in my head so I feel like I have met them already! If I had to choose, I think I would actually pick a relatively minor character: Ellyn. Ellyn is an elf and she is the loremaster in the elven city of Crain. It would be wonderful to meet her and sit and have a chat!
What four literary characters would you most like to have over for dinner?
This is an easy one! I would choose four characters all from the same universe. I would invite Frodo, Sam, Bilbo, and Gandalf over for dinner. Three hobbits and a wizard would make for wonderful company.
You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?
If I’m really forced to choose, I would have to pick Ellamora. Ellamora is an elf from Crain, like Ellyn. She would be a good conversation partner on a desert island, and she would be good to have around to help us survive. There’s never a dull moment when Ellamora is around!
After fleeing the Elven capital, Reith and his friends must race across Terrasohnen to warn the dwarves of the Shadow's long reach. Each new revelation brings even more questions and Reith has so much to learn about Shadows and his mysterious sword. Time is against Reith. Death stalks him in the desert, mountains, and sea, and the ever present darkness looms large over all.
Will they reach the dwarves in time to prevent more death? Or will the Shadow's destruction be too great, consuming everyone in the kingdoms of Terrasohnen?
Read an Excerpt
“So, if a fight is coming, what then? What does find me mean?” Reith asked.
“I have no idea,” Romulus said. “I have a suspicion that the Voice belongs to a Guardian of Light, or even the God of Light. You have a destiny, Reith.”
“All chosen by the God of Light for one task or another ask that question. It is beyond our wisdom. The God of Light has purposes and plans we can know nothing about. He has written the story of Terrasohnen on the world, and we are following along as best we can, though the ending is hidden from our eyes. But as for your question, I do not believe the God of Light calls someone unless he purposes to accomplish something in and through them.”
“So you think I will be successful in whatever this is?”
“I don’t think it, I believe it. I have faith in the God of Light. I think he or someone speaking for him is speaking to you, so I trust that he will be with you.”
“Easy for you to say,” Reith said, “You’re not the one facing fighting and finding.”
“Perhaps not finding, but certainly fighting.”
They rode on in silence for a few minutes.
“You promised to return the favor,” Reith said. “Tell me about you.”
“I am Romulus, firstborn son of King Koinas, heir to the throne of the elves. My mother died seven winters ago. I am the only remaining child of her and my father. He shall be furious that I have gone, but it is for the best. I was raised in the palace of Sardis and had the greatest tutors in history, mathematics, law, military strategy, astronomy, jousting, archery, and swordplay. As prince, I felt a great concern for my people, that all would be treated with fairness and justice. I have taken an interest in hearing the grievances of my people against one another and against the crown, which I did my best to decide equitably. I know rulers do not choose their monikers, but Romulus the Just has a nice ring to it. I hope to live up to it. And now, I am afraid that the greatest threat to the kingdom and my people is my father, and so I am on this quest beside you, fleeing from his wrath to a foreign land to beg for aid.”
“Sounds bleak,” Reith said, not really knowing what to say to the prince.
“It’s not as bleak as one might think. The God of Light is with us. We saw that at the funeral pyre for Kydar. And when the God of Light is with us, who can oppose us?”
About the Author:
The Things that Charm Us and the Smelly Gospel (which was co-written with Drew Doss) both came out in 2020.
His love of writing began in elementary school when each student was given a blank white book to fill with a story. In college, he took an interest in blogging and writing novels.
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