She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.
– Annie Dillard
She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.
– Annie Dillard
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: On the Fly Publications
Publication Date: March 5, 2018
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SHADOW IS AZH’NAHN, A POWERLESS MAGE born into a culture that prides itself in sharing the earth’s powers. When he chooses a life of voluntary exile to preserve his family’s honor, Shadow receives a mysterious call to witness the unearthing of kotrakoy, treacherous telepathic beasts with four wings and four rows of teeth. As he watches their unholy resurrection with great horror, kotrakoy open their minds to his and offer a glimpse into what life would be like wielding a mage’s powers.
As Shadow races to warn his people of the impending threat, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, an unwanted leadership position fraught with treachery, and the creepy Mists of Ishmandool.
Soon a superstitious tech race begins bombing his people and magic evolves, leaving Shadow’s people crippled and defenseless. When he announces that he's unlocked the secret to the new magic and the key to defeating enemy troops, few are ready to listen. To be fair, his solution suffers a few fatal flaws, the least of which is that it risks the complete annihilation of his people. Worse, it’s unprecedented and UNPROVEN.
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About the Author
Drew explores what happens when technology clashes with magic. He’s been compared to Ursula LeGuin (Harry Potter’s biggest influence), Elaine Cunningham (queen of dark fantasy and Forgotten Realms), and Fydor Dostoevsky (godfather of Crime and Punishment), but he takes his greatest pride in the fact that he can juggle more balls than any other author on the planet. His books feature post-apocalyptic genetically engineered humans joining forces with magically empowered aliens (Moon 514), superstitious steampunk societies warring with a magical society temporarily deprived of its magic (Unproven), high-tech assassins trying to distinguish memory implants from reality (Assassin Hunter), drug enhanced magic systems (Slice), psionically gifted dragons, telepathic griffons, symbiotic vampiric vines, and entrancing world building. He aims to deliver thriller pacing a la Dan Brown and tightly outlined Brandon Sanderson-esque plots all while exploring deeply personal character growth. He accidentally found himself a bestselling author in YA SFF Steampunk (#1) and Action & Adventure (#2)(Unproven) and SFF Anthologies (#1)(5 Blades) and a Top 5 Author at SciFiFantasyFreak.com (Moon 514). Currently, Drew’s working on a screenplay for Unproven (as a teen animated series) and Sea Dragon Apocalypse (a technothriller-epic-fantasy-mashup).
Connect with Author
Where do you get your ideas for your books? Who or what inspired your idea?
DB: I find ideas everywhere (books, movies, advertisements, history, science articles, etc.) but often, the most inspiring ideas for me come from fantasy art. The first scene from Unproven came from a painting I found where a group of people come across what appears to be dinosaur bones but they are intact as if on display at a museum - but they are half buried. I started asking myself questions about the painting. Who were these people? What were they searching for? Are those dragon bones? Why are they intact but half buried? About the same time, I came across an article about microraptors that really inspired me and voila, I began writing a story about the unearthing of kotrakoy, the cursed beasts of Ali'ikiswan.
How did you develop the plot and your characters? Are your characters based on anyone?
DB: I attended FantasyCon. An editor there complained that no one was writing about conflicts between tech societies and magical societies. I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about that and researching a tech society that wouldn't overwhelm a magical society if they were at war. By surprise, I ended up writing about a steampunk society warring with a magical society, but that wasn't creative enough for me. I wanted something more interesting than a simple political conflict so I started looking for a character I hadn't seen in literature I'd read before. Brandon Sanderson thinks like this so I took a page from his book, so to speak. I ended up with a self-exiling, powerless mage who stumbled upon the scene I described above, which in turn became one of a few precipitating events to begin a war between the two societies. My characters are often based on someone. I usually pick a few of my own traits to create a foundation for my main character. I find this allows me to more intuitively know how he or she will react to events and it allows me to write more authentically. All of us have several character traits so it is easy to choose a few and rotate for each book. I took a course by David Farland about character development that helped me tremendously with Unproven. I spent time with each character, asking myself who they were most like (using people I know). Then, I asked questions about how they felt about what the main character was doing, how loyal they could be to the main character, how their motivations aligned with the main character and how they might run into conflict with the main character's aspirations. After exploring these and many similar questions, I ended up with characters that were fairly well flushed out and with subplots that made the story much more interesting.
Do you write when you're inspired? Or do you have a schedule you keep to?
DB: Both. When I can write every day, I usually feel very inspired and happy to write. The only times I'm not inspired to write are when something bad is happening in my personal life that keeps me from being able to slip into fantasy land ... and frankly, that takes a lot. So, I try to keep a schedule. When I'm not on a schedule, I find myself getting more and more anxious to write so when the time arrives that I can sit down to write, I'm more than ready and the juices are flowing.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Maybe a piece of advice that stuck with you from your adventure into the world of publishing?
DB: There are many things required of authors in today's society. Even if you find a traditional publisher, you'll likely need to learn how to market on your own or else your sales may lag. My advice is to take a step back, look at the big picture, and learn everything there is to learn about the industry, whether that is how to write an engaging query letter or how to use effective keywords on Amazon or how to avoid using too many plot cliches while keeping your story grounded in familiar tropes that audiences are looking for. Everyone has their own unique weaknesses so don't be afraid to find yours and tackle it. For me, that's been marketing and not writing too high brow. For others, it may be writing a story that is truly unique. Whatever it is, don't allow yourself to be blind to your weakness or to use excuses that allow you to remain in that weakness.
Tell us a bit more about yourself. How did you know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspires you to write?
DB: I took a creative writing class in high school and realized that this was something I really enjoyed. As life's journey progressed, I found myself telling bedtime stories to my children and wanting to write them down so I wouldn't forget. Then, I started writing on Wattpad with my daughter to support her efforts. By surprise, I found myself #2 on Wattpad and writing furiously to publish at least one chapter per week to keep fans happy. That was it. I was hooked. I don't know what inspires me to write. I could say art or stories or other things that inspire stories in me but what inspires me to want to write in the first place ... that is too deeply philosophical for me to answer. What makes you like chocolate? I don't care for chocolate but many people are really passionate about it. I've written a dozen books. I literally have five or six others in progress (some non-fiction as well as fiction). I focus on one to ensure it gets finished but others are very close to my conscious mind, begging for their turn. I don't know what makes me like that. DNA. Spirit. OCD. All three. Who knows?
How much of yourself goes into your writing? Or do you keep yourself separate and base the character on someone else entirely?
DB: Both. What I relish the most about writing is putting myself in someone else's head and trying to think like them. Even when I base a character on myself, I give him/her traits that are very different from me and I put them in situations I'd never be in so I have to think like they think. For instance, I'd never really think, "which spell will help me get out of this situation safely?" but when I'm writing, I think those thoughts frequently. I first realized this was a very enjoyable thing about writing when I wrote a chapter from an aging black dragon's perspective. That was probably the most engaging chapter I've ever written from an author's point of view. It changed my world.
What has helped shape and improve your writing?
DB: Masterclasses and the Great Courses and other writing course. I'm constantly taking new courses to hone my skills and to make me think from a different perspective.
What are you reading right now? Do you recommend it or have any other recommendations?
DB: Tagana. I'm not sure if I'd recommend it or not. It's a best seller so it must have something worthy of attention but it's a bit slow moving right now. I know better than to give up on a novel like that (though I did give up on Name of the Wind because it didn't feel like it had a plot after 100 pages) so I'll keep reading but so far, it's only okay. A few months ago I read This Mortal Coil. That was a fun read and it was mostly very creative.
Do your novels carry a message or do you feel it's subjective?
DB: My novels definitely carry messages, though I don't always plot them out. Unproven, for example, deals with mental illness as a subplot but I never planned that. It just happened. My wife had been recently diagnosed with a severe mental illness so it was hounding my subconsciousness, I guess. Other themes can similarly be unintentional. Usually, I discover them while doing a broad edit and enhance them so that they are more meaningful and usually, I try to keep them subtle anyway.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
DB: Scrivener. Hands down.
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