Dream Knights: The Network follows a young boy and girl in a world where adults have lost the ability to dream and the pair seek answers to the problem in their dreams. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
Burnout in the United States, such as the Great Resignation, inspired me to suggest a world where adults no longer dream. In the novel, excessive stress and worry make dreaming impossible for adults. Yet, thanks to heroic children, there is hope to bring dreams back.
In reality, there is hope to reduce burnout too. Teleworking and flexible schedules are already gaining popularity. We can go even further.
When compared to the United States, Finland’s students show greater academic success while spending less time in the classroom. They even have summer breaks that are 10 to 11 weeks long. We can learn from this type of success not only for our children but also for our workforce. We all have limits.
Grant and Zahra are intriguing characters that were fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind your characters’ development?
I wanted Grant and Zahra to be great role models and add cultural and gender diversity to the novel.
To be inclusive, I requested that my cover artist present my characters as silhouettes. Originally, the characters were also written in a nondescript manner. I later changed that, as to be more intentional with diversity, and modeled Zahra after a friend whose family emigrated from Bangladesh.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Different people have different skills, and they are all valuable. When working together, people can accomplish great things.
Also, building relationships and simplifying life can lead to a more fulfilling life than one filled with possessions and stress.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Dream Knights: The Gate, which picks up a couple of weeks after the first book, was just released on December 21, 2022. The third book, still in its early stages, will take place three to five years after the first two books. However, I have also started a historical fiction book for adults. It’s about a budding romance in 16th century Sweden during the rebellion against Danish rule. Although I’m still deciding which book to write first, I’m hoping to publish one in 2023.
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Odriel’s Heirs follows a sheltered young woman with the power of flame who has to learn to control her gift and save humans that have cast her out. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
Odriel’s Heirs was my first book, so by the time I sat down to write it, I’d been thinking about the story for years. I’ve always loved chosen one stories, but I really wanted to show how the reality of a chosen one could be extremely difficult and burdensome. Honestly, I can see seeds of inspiration from so many of my favorite childhood books and TV shows sprinkled in this story: Sabriel by Garth Nix, X-men, and even Dragon Ball Z. I love the idea that Kaia has a gift that is difficult to use and, in a time of peace, made her an outcast instead of a hero. But then when she finally has a chance to become a hero like she always dreamed, it is more heart-breaking and nightmarish than she could have ever imagined.
Kaia comes into her gift as the Dragon Heir at a time when people felt it was not needed or wanted, till disaster strikes. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
As a teenager, I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, in which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “A man who is warm cannot understand a man who is freezing,” and it really stuck with me. I think in times of peace, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine what we would have to do or endure in times of violence or war. And, many times, I feel like rather than confront these scary or uncomfortable thoughts or possibilities, people would rather avert their gaze from reminders of those difficult truths. In the world of Okarria, Kaia is definitely one of these uncomfortable reminders, and her people spurn her for it, but I love how that doesn’t steal her desire to fulfill her role and protect those people. Although she often doesn’t feel like the fearless Dragon Heir she’s meant to be, the fact that she accepts this mantle on behalf of her people really shows her true strength and courage.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
One of the strongest themes in this book, and the series as a whole, is that even when we’re at rock bottom, at the end of our rope, we’re still capable of so much more than we believe. And though Odriel’s Heirs is full of danger and battles, it is the mental struggle with Kaia’s own confidence she must win if she wishes to survive. Kaia must come to terms with her shortcomings and her strengths and as such, she has to learn to have faith in both those around her and herself in order to come to her full potential. Although Odriel’s Heirs is an epic fantasy novel, Kaia’s coming-of-age underscores her every challenge, and it was so fulfilling to really watch Kaia grow from the self-conscious sheep-girl into a legendary Dragon Heir.
Is this the first book in the series? If so, when is the next book coming out and what can your fans expect in the next story?
Yes! Odriel’s Heirs is a trilogy with stand-alone entries linked by two novellas. The first book, Odriel’s Heirs, follows the Dragon Heir. Burning Shadows, a follow-on novella, links the story to the second book, Idriel’s Children, which follows a Shadow Heir of the next generation. Then, Night of Ash, another follow-on novella, links the narrative to the final book, Time’s Orphan, which follows a Time Heir. Time’s Orphan will be released on Feb 8th 2023 and the series will be complete! It’s been such a joy to embark and complete this epic adventure, and I’m so thankful to all the readers who’ve joined me along the way! Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy Odriel’s Heirs!
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Have you ever had a lucid dream? Dream Knights: The Network by E. Barron is like that but even better! This book takes you on a dreamy adventure where Grant and Zahra can travel while they sleep. As both children learn how to exist in the real world and travel in their dreams, they begin to the realize that they have special powers and that the adults around them need their help. Grant and Zahra live on opposite sides of the country, but their connection within the dream world allows them to meet for the first time, where they begin a quest to save the adults in their lives and take down the Network.
This book was fun to read, and the author brings lucid dreaming to life in a spectacular, entertaining way. The storyline is exciting, and the children are brave, taking on a quest with potentially frightening consequences. I enjoyed their courage and how the story progressed, with well-described time frames and fantastic narration throughout the book. The first-person point of view gave me the sense of experiencing everything through the characters, which enhanced the thrilling nature of the book.
The characters were great. I got a sense of both Grant and Zahra. Grant was a cautious character, while Zahra was very bold. Ava, shy, reserved, and analytical, was a great supporting character, and their dog, Romeo, was a great addition. It’s an adventurous read that I would highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre.
Dream Knights: The Network is a great book for young readers. It’s an inspiring, imaginative book that will keep you reading from beginning to end.
Pages 269 | ASIN: B09VNWGLSM
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Odriel’s Heirs by Hayley Reese Chow follows a young girl named Kaia. As the first Born of her siblings, she inherited the fire of the dragon. She has three siblings, her twin Bram, younger brother Layf and younger sister Elani. She lives somewhat of a sheltered life because the surrounding villagers believe they are evil. As she starts exploring society, she comes close to some dangerous obstacles. Her father is away fighting a war that she believes she can assist in. Once she realizes that a necromancer has unleashed lost souls onto the humans, she believes it is her duty as the dragon heir to help keep the humans safe. She wants nothing more than to prove that she is strong and a good person to her family and the outside world.
Odriel’s Heirs is a gripping epic fantasy novel from start to finish. The flow of the story was both entertaining and exciting; I was hooked throughout the entire story. The characters are well thought through, and they bring the story alive. The main character is strong-willed and brave, someone a teen girl can look up to and admire. Kaia’s character is one reader can’t help but feel bad about at times because of how she is treated by others for the gift she inherited. However, despite her obstacles, she never losses sight of her goals and always looks for a way to persevere. The secondary characters are written just as well and add additional layers to this fantastic story.
Hayley Reese Chow has combined paranormal and fantasy genres in this adventure for young adults in Odriel’s Heirs. The journey that the author takes readers on is creative and unique. It was definitely one of those books that take you out of the real world and into a new fantasy and amazing dystopian world that you can’t help but get lost in.
Pages: 198 | ASIN : B0838R4DTB
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In The Phantom a rebellion is revealed and the destinies of individuals will intersect when dreams and desperation collide. What was the one thing that motivated you the most to write this book?
That is a great question. For me, the driving force behind the book was the notion of empire and the cost it brings. As an avid history reader, I found myself drawn to battles and political inquisitions from both the recent and distant past. Moreover, I wanted to focus on a different type of war. The Harmonious Union, technically speaking, is not your traditional behemoth of an empire like say Rome, Britain, or Spain. It functions more like the United Nations with the Nameless Continent serving as a foundation for a brotherhood between the nations. In turn, the Expeditionary League functions as a multinational peace-keeping force. I drew inspiration from the modern day status of NATO which serves as a tight coalition between what many would see as the western powers. NATO originally served as a deterrent against the Soviet Union, a rival superpower during the Cold War. Even with its main adversary gone, however, NATO has not been dissolved. To the contrary, NATO has carried out offensive operations in the former Yugoslavia, several nations of the Middle East, and even took a crack at Africa during the Libya campaign. Many would argue these bombing campaigns were the only alternative to deal with tyrants and tottering nations, but there’s no doubt that the price of such campaigns has been extensive for stability and civilian life.
That was the duality I wanted to show with the Expeditionary League and their foes. Pantheon:The Phantom‘s central theme is that no adversarial nation appears in a vacuum. All actions have a historical precedent and an origin point, even if one doesn’t agree with the policies and aftermath of a rogue state, a band of terrorists, or the now lesser used term radicals. The Pact of Ram can be seen as any number of these historical groups. That to me would be for the readers to decide. Are they freedom fighters, or dangerous insurrectionists and anarchists?
There is a lot of fantastic action in this book. Was that intentional or incidental to the story you wanted to tell?
It actually developed naturally for me. I sat down and first decided the geographic layout of each theater of combat. A promontory over a foggy ocean, a ship out at sea, a forest not far from a beach, all of these things took time for me to visualize. Then I wondered how the characters would use that environment. Unlike my previous science fiction works, magic was a factor so I also decided to make full use of that. I wanted to give each nation a unique use of their mages’ abilities, and for me it was a whole lot of fun that way. The Daijo bend water, ice, and fog to their will while Yunians rely more on alchemy and even music itself. The lone Ilean soldier portrayed uses a much more aggressive style than all the rest and walks a fine line between black magic and what’s legally sanctioned. I hope to explore more of these characters in the future.
Do you define your character’s motivations before writing or are they revealed to you as you write?
As a writer, I am admittedly slower because I like to build thorough skeletons of my chapters and characters. Thanks to the power of Google Docs, I can line up my chapters from start to finish and examine if the order is logical or substance is needed. Even so, I also discover much about the characters as I write. This process of “putting meat on the bones” leads to development of character personality quirks, underlying motivations, and sometimes even backstory reveals. A soldier is never just a soldier any more than a king is just a king. I try to keep that in mind when I write.
What can readers expect in book three in the Pantheon – Genesis Arc?
Oh boy! This is a book I can wait for readers to experience! I actually wanted to release it in 2022, but a slew of ideas and expanded storylines led to me pushing it back. The next book will be released in August of 2023 and will be called Pantheon: The Contact. As I’ve spent more and more time in the world of the Pantheon series, I’ve found myself developing the history of the world, its culture, and of course its dark secrets. Many of these dark secrets will come to light in the third book.In a similar vein to the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series, each book will now focus on a different set of characters though many characters will crossover between stories of course. Pantheon volume 1 introduced primarily Atty Sowell and Yaphet Orinse while the Phantom focused on Atty, her father Palkan Sowell, and the Pact of Ram warriors. Pantheon: The Contact will follow Yaphet as he discovers a massive conspiracy that has rotted the integrity of the Sebelian south. Hot on the trail of these dark secrets is the huntress Dahan who will discover her own sordid history. All the while, Palkan Sowell continues his hunt for the Pact of Ram. What he discovers, however, is no less than a monstrosity that threatens to consume the entire world of Avah. An ancient terror will emerge from the shadows and drag the nations into chaos. An ancient terror for centuries known only as The Wanderer. This is a character who has briefly appeared in the first two books but also in the Law of Might trilogy. The Wanderer’s backstory will be explored in the Law of Sacrilege books.
There’s much more to come in the Pantheon Universe!
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Milo Savage is a happy-go-lucky kid who loves a good prank. Unfortunately for Milo, his troubles are only beginning as he finds more than he bargained for at the sixth-grade field trip to the museum. Untold horrors lurk in the shadows, keen on discovering a secret that may spell disaster for all mankind. Drawn suddenly into a world of magic and mayhem, Milo must overcome the obstacles within himself to save the day. Working alongside bookworm Suzy, technician Sammy, and martial artist Kat, Milo plummets into danger as he struggles to navigate a world he barely comprehends. Together, Milo and his team of unlikely adventurers must fight to protect humanity from a devastating threat that seeks to undo the balance of the world once and for all.
Milo Savage and the Gargoyle Hunters: Secret of the Moonstone by D.S. Quinton is a fast-paced adventure with a lot to love. There are numerous colorful characters, but the narrative avoids becoming cluttered. Written in a highly engaging first-person style, the reader is immediately drawn into Milo’s optimistically sarcastic world, which strikes the perfect balance of playful storytelling and serious plot. There is plenty of comic relief, and although Milo and his friends face numerous threats and dangers, the story retains its bright tone throughout the journey. With action-packed battles, an immersive setting, and the promise of more to come, this first entry in the series is an outstanding middle-grade adventure.
While this children’s fantasy adventure novel is gripping and filled with action, there is one detraction to the story, the character development. While the characters learn and grow throughout the journey, this team of heroes comprises people who met that day. I feel that the characters needed more time to develop and establish themselves before embarking on a dangerous quest to save the world. The ending of this novel will leave readers excited for more from author D.S. Quinton. This first book sets up the plot for the next in the series, leaving many questions and room for more adventures.
Milo’s quest to protect the world in Milo Savage and the Gargoyle Hunters: Secret of the Moonstone is a stand-out escapade full of surprises. This children’s fantasy novel contains minor violence and crude humor, making it ideal for middle-grade readers. A tale of magic, mystery, and fun, this lighthearted journey into a perilous world is a beautiful beginning to what promises to be an incredible series.
Pages: 250 | ASIN : B0BMQR8PHG
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Ever the Night Road, written by Michael Breen, is an adventurous coming-of-age story. Dagny Losh is an orphan who is taken in by her older brother’s best friend when she runs away following the tragic death of her brother. Dagny grows up in the town of Rork, though she quickly becomes an outcast. As she longs for more connection and adventure, Dagny meets a few boys who invite her to join them on a rescue mission. This journey quickly becomes an adventure of a lifetime and a means to discover a lost part of her life.
This book is a story about the importance of friendship and inner strength. It’s a phenomenal read that gripped me from the beginning – a hard book to put down! I loved reading about Dagny and her character’s health with so much heartbreak, though she learned how to turn things around and enjoy a wonderful life. The author does an exceptional job of creating a character I could relate to and anyone who feels isolated and needs genuine connection.
The character development is excellent, primarily how Dagny, Max, Sama, and Rodolph interact and challenge each other throughout the book. I found the story’s plot surprising, leading to some exciting twists I didn’t expect. Michael Breen is a creative writer, and I look forward to reading more from the author.
Ever the Night Road is a unique story that will keep you reading from one chapter to the next, with lively characters, plot developments, and great dialogue throughout the story. The book is adventurous and will keep readers interested and looking forward to the next book!
Pages 420 | ASIN B0BM7ZXN1N
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and writing talent of these brilliant authors.
Silver Award Recipients
Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.
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