What if there were dragons in our midst? And what if they looked like us?
Those are the questions author Bryan Davis asks in his young adult fantasy fiction series, starting with Book 1: Raising Dragons. Those are intriguing questions all by themselves, but they’re hardly the only reason why he and his novel are being featured here today.
Innovative Editing features one creative or non-fiction writer every month who catches its editorial eye. These authors can be self-published or traditionally published, Innovative Editing clients or outside recommendations.
Whatever and whoever they are, they stand out! (If you think you do too, reach out right here.)
In Bryan’s case, he takes an age-old myth on a brand-new flight – one that’s appropriate across the middle-grade, YA and adult-sized reading categories. If you're even mildly into fantasy, you'll want to read on...
July’s Author of the Month: Bryan Davis
Featured Title: Raising Dragons
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Age Appropriate: All
Bio: Bryan Davis is the author of several speculative fiction series, including the bestselling Dragons in Our Midst series. His other series include Oracles of Fire, Children of the Bard, the Reapers Trilogy, the Time Echoes Trilogy, Tales of Starlight, Dragons of Starlight, and Wanted: Superheroes.
Bryan was born in 1958 and grew up in the eastern U.S. From the time he taught himself how to read before school age, through his seminary years and beyond, he has demonstrated a passion for the written word, reading and writing in many disciplines and genres, including fiction, theology, devotionals, poetry, and humor.
Bryan has been married to Susie for 37 years, and they have seven adult children together. Before stepping into the writing world, he was a computer professional for 20 years. He has been a full-time author for 16 years now, which he calls his dream occupation.
Jeannette: I always start these interviews out by asking the author to describe their own book for the audience, since I think it’s particularly worthwhile coming from the writer. So, Bryan, the floor is yours. What is this clever young adult fantasy book about?
Bryan: Raising Dragons is a contemporary fantasy. That is, it takes place in our world in modern times, and fantasy elements have been added to it. Two teenagers learn that their parents were once dragons but were transformed into humans back in the time of King Arthur to save the species from dragon slayers.
Because of their genetics, the former dragons were able to live for centuries, and a couple of them even had children in modern times. Those offspring began manifesting dragon traits, which were noticed by a modern-day dragon slayer, thereby endangering the teens.
As a result, the pair has to work together to battle the slayer as they try to unravel the many mysteries of the past.
Jeannette: Yeah, that about sums it up, minus all the fascinating details – which we definitely aren’t going to give away here.
As both a fantasy author and reader, I’d say there are two main kinds of fantasy writers out there: those who closely follow myths and mythology and those who rewrite the story – both of which can be phenomenal.
Which category do you feel you fall into?
Bryan: I tend to put my own spin on myths and legends. In Raising Dragons, I changed Merlin from a wizard to a prophet. Dragons, which are usually evil beasts in most tales, are sentient in my stories with the ability to be either good or evil. And as readers follow the series, they will see other twists and renderings that, I hope, will be thought-provoking.
For those who don’t like the altering of beloved legends though, just pretend that I’m the one who got it right and others are the legend changers. Would that work?
Jeannette: I love those last two lines for so many reasons. Personally, I’m up for either just as long as the story is well-crafted with engaging characters I can root for – both boxes you easily check off.
Since you’re a legend-changer, or legend-creator, what amount of research did you do before adding your own personal twist to the richly diverse legends of King Arthur?
Bryan: I read a number of books about King Arthur, and I traveled to England to visit prominent Arthurian sites such as Tintagel Island and the Glastonbury Tor.
Jeannette: Wow! Color me jealous.
Bryan: I also interviewed experts on the legends, which allowed me to ask specific questions related to my story.
I actually enjoy the research aspect of storytelling very much. If I had a time machine, I probably would’ve gone back to investigate personally, but I might have interfered too much.
Changing history can be dangerous.
Jeannette: Agreed. And I’d imagine it becomes even more dangerous when you’re dealing with dragons. With that said, you did a great job of establishing your story without actually meeting any such fire-breathing beasts.
The same goes for your characters, who readers will be hard-pressed not to root for. Were they based off specific someones, or do you have a different process to come up with your storybook personalities?
Bryan: There are no characters in my story who exactly match any real person. I do, however, borrow a personality trait here and there that I find intriguing. Because of that, readers who know me well might recognize glimmers of people in my life.
I hope, however, that people don’t think I’m modeling any villains after them. Jeannette: In that case, you’re a better person than I am, which is all I’ll say on that subject. So. Switching gears…
Anyone who checks out Raising Dragons can immediately see it’s the first in a series. When you first started writing Book 1, did you automatically know you were going to be writing Books 2, 3 and 4?
Bryan: Early on, I didn’t think about Raising Dragons becoming a series. In fact, my original title was Dragons in Our Midst, which became the series’ name. When I received a four-book contract from the publisher though, I altered the ending to make it suitable for continuation into sequels.
I’m glad it worked out that way. The stories in the sequels add much more depth that stretches the reader and adds a great deal more satisfaction to the tale.
Jeannette: Between Dragons in Our Midst, your other series and seemingly standalone books, there’s a whole lot that falls into the fantasy category. Does that say something about your reading proclivities? Bryan: Not really. For the first 35 years of my life, I was not a fantasy reader except for The Chronicles of Narnia. Then, one night, I had a dream about a boy who could breathe fire.
My oldest son and I brainstormed that dream into the premise for Dragons in Our Midst; as a result, I researched the fantasy genre and became more interested in reading it.
Still, a list of my top three favorite novels includes only one fantasy title – Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. I enjoy some fantasy novels, but most of them trouble me for various reasons.
What I am a fan of is any hero’s journey story that follows a virtuous hero (or heroine) through a suffering, sacrificial series of events to achieve a selfless goal. If such a story is fantasy, then that’s fine, but that kind of tale is not necessarily tied to the fantasy genre.
Jeannette: It sounds like you had quite the journey into writing. Can the same be said about how you became traditionally published? If you have any insights or opinions on how to attract a literary agent or publishing company, I’m sure Innovative Editing readers are all ears.
Bryan: I learned that it can be extremely difficult to find a traditional publisher that is willing to take a chance on a new author. I received more than 200 rejections over an eight-year period.
Such a journey can be frustrating. To say the least.
That’s why I highly recommend attending writer’s conferences. There, an aspiring writer can meet acquisitions editors and agents who are actively seeking new talent. These professionals know that conference attendees tend to be more serious about their craft, since they’re willing to spend time and money to learn writing skills as well as about the industry itself.
One of the key attractions is gaining a platform. The publishing decision makers need to be convinced that a high number of people will buy your book. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have an online presence that attracts followers.
Having a blog and adding interesting posts consistently is a good way to start. It takes time and a lot of effort, but a platform is essential in today’s publishing world.
Jeannette: That actually leads perfectly into my last question, which is about your own platform. Where can readers find you online?
Bryan: That would be:
Website – www.daviscrossing.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BryanDavis.Fans
Purchase page – http://www.theauthorschair.com/shopping/
Jeannette: Bryan, thank you so much for sharing about your books, your writing journey and your writing wisdom.
And readers, if you’re an Amazon junkie like so many others, Raising Dragons can be found right here!