What can you tell us about your new release, Anakisha’s Dragon?
Anakisha’s Dragon, Riders of Fire Dragon Masters book 1 arose because my readers often asked me about the nuggets of back story peppered throughout my Riders of Fire series. I developed the Riders of Fire Dragon Masters series to answer their questions and also satisfy my own curiosity!
It’s amazing how—even though I’ve woven the history of Dragon’s Real into my novels—the characters take on a life of their own when I tell their stories. I expected Anakisha to be feisty and strong, but I didn’t expect her to be gullible or naïve. I knew Yanir was gallant, but didn’t realize how compassionate or humble he’d turn out to be. And Will’s journey among pirates has surprised me most of all.
So, what’s the story actually about?
When Anakisha’s brother is murdered by a street gang, she joins the Night Wings, a local vigilante gang, and takes to the streets at night to avenge him. But the underbelly of Fieldhaven is rife with politics and deceit, and although Anakisha is good with a bow and a dagger, she’s not always the best judge of character.
And her plans definitely do not include a dragon.
Yanir has left behind his dubious beginnings and become the new King’s Rider. He sneaks into Fieldhaven on his onyx dragon, Syan, to uncover rumors of unrest in the south. Then he discovers a beautiful girl unconscious in an alley…
Will’s an opportunist, combing the Naobian market to feed his starving sister. Luck goes his way, until a fateful game in a dodgy tavern changes his life forever. He and his best friend wake on a ship, desperate, surrounded by bloodthirsty pirates, and armed only with Will’s gift of the gab.
But even Will can’t talk his way out of this one…
It’s been a whole heap of fun writing this story and my readers are enjoying it, too. I’m excited to kick off this fabulous new series which will appeal to readers of Eragon, Dragonriders of Pern, Dragon School and Brindle Dragon.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I’ve always told stories, and wrote a lot as a teen, but it wasn’t until a friend gave me her manuscript to read, that I knew I could write a book too. I wrote Ezaara in a year. At 223,000 words, Ezaara was as long as 2-3 books. I rewrote it eighteen times over nine years and finally published it in October 2018. Ezaara, book 1 in my Riders of Fire series won a Storylines New Zealand Notable Award, and so did Dragon Hero, book 2. The series has over 40 points of view, but my readers say it pulls together seamlessly. It’s so much fun writing about more than one main character and revealing all the hidden facets of their personalities. My readers enjoy getting to know cheeky rascals, stoic jaded dragon masters, marauding monsters, an evil genius and loyal dragon riders.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
The Demon King in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima — I LOVE this story because Han Alistair, the crime lord has three identities: “Cuffs”, a tough street thug and ex gang leader, hustler and fighter; “Hunts Alone”, a respected youth in the upland tribes who wears special silver cuffs (no spoilers); and “Han”, the browbeaten son of an abusive laundress. Seeing these complex identities clash and unravel Han’s life is an amazing journey. A great mix of humor, action and emotion.
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas — I love Celeana, the feisty, smart-mouthed assassin, and all of her cast and their adventures.
Dragonriders of Pern series — I grew up on these books and they fostered my love of dragons. When I decided to write my first novel, it was only natural that I turned to source of enjoyment I’d found as a teen between the pages of Anne McCaffrey’s novels—soaring through the sky on dragonback!
Brindle Dragon by Jada Fisher — I enjoyed this heartwarming series about a girl with a disability who fights back against tradition —and rides dragons, of course! Are you beginning to see a theme here?
Mystic and Rider, book 1 in The Twelve Houses series. I enjoy Sharron Shinn’s writing. She weaves complex characters and intricate plots seamlessly. I loved this saga and have reread it many times.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I’d like to chat with Anne McCaffrey and go “between” with her on a dragon to Pern. In return, I’d take her through a world gate into Dragons’ Realm so we could visit Ezaara and her Riders of Fire and soar on dragonback over the Northern Grande Alps.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I love the exhilaration I experience when I create characters I love with emotions that matter. Every story is about someone going through something real, so my stories enable readers to process their own emotions while they lose themselves in a great adventure and have fun. A mum from England wrote to me and told me that my books had helped her son get through lockdown. He’d wanted to give up and was feeling lousy, then he escaped to Dragon’ Realm and saw the characters going through such hardships and trials, and it helped him cope. Fiction is an important vehicle for helping us process what’s going on around us. I love being able to brighten my readers’ lives.
What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is different, and that’s what I love about my life. I sometimes walk all day, dictating my ideas, plots and stories. Dictation takes me to the beach, out to parks and through forests. I live in New Zealand and there are beaches within a 5-minute drive in three directions. Across from my home is “the town belt” a swathe of forest which runs around our city, so I often walk there, too. Sometimes I’m out for an hour, sometimes for six, while other days I’m at my computer, shaping that rough dictation into a story that sings.
On my plotting and planning days, I’m brainstorming with beta readers or my critique group — with lots of snacks!
When I launch a book, I throw an online party in my Facebook group, and hang out with my readers and other authors. I really enjoy people. Oh yeah, and I dress up with horns, dragon wings and a tail, and I have purple-and-rainbow hair, so that’s fun too. When I had a paperback launch, I brought in archers and sword fighters, and had a giant paper castle as a backdrop and an enormous map of Dragons’ Realm on the wall so people could hunt for missing treasure chests and win prizes.
What scene from Anakisha’s Dragon was your favorite to write?
I always love most of the scenes in my books, but this time, the ending made me exceptionally happy. By the end of a book, I find the conclusion writes itself. I love that sense of perfection when I’ve just written the last word in a novel and the world goes silent for a few moments while I contemplate what I’ve just completed and the message of hope that will be left with my readers.
A few moments later, life jumps right back at me and I’m off running again.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
There are two mottos that characters in Anakisha’s Dragon mention. Giddi is a young mage who befriends Anakisha.
Giddi shook his head, his eyes fierce beneath his bushy eyebrows. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, Anakisha, it’s that even when you think there isn’t, there’s always a choice.”
Giddi’s perspective contrasts very strongly with Will, who often feels throughout Anakisha’s Dragon that he has no choice. This shapes his decisions, and not always in a good way.
Zaarusha queen of the dragons, also offers Anakisha some advice.
Zaarusha mind-melded. “If you don’t leave these events in the past, they’ll destroy your future. You can live life grieving for yesterday or you can put the past aside and live for what today has to offer. The future is bright, Anakisha. Seize it.”
I challenge everyone to live their lives to be themselves and to seize each day, looking forward to a brighter future. There will be difficulties, grief and heartbreak on the way, but if we reach out to others, we will emerge stronger.
Whatever makes you come alive, go and do it today. Because the world needs more people who feel alive. Laugh, live, love and cry. Be yourself, be true to who you are. And encourage others to do the same.