From 12:00 A.M. March 8 to 12:00 A.M. March 15, I’m running a giveaway for the books in the Sun Dragon Series. Just comment on this post with the title of a book you’re currently reading or just finished, click on the giveaway link below, and select which the book giveaways you’d like to enter (use the arrows to scroll through the titles)!
I’m a little late in announcing this, but I recently signed two new book contracts with my wonderful publisher, Harmony Ink. For those who haven’t heard of them, Harmony Ink is a publisher of positive LGBTQ+ Teen and New Adult Fiction. I have LOVED working with them on my five book Sun Dragon Series, and now the fun will continue with two new books!
Jesse 2.0 (July/Aug 2018) is a science fiction novel inspired by the question “What would happen if dead people could be brought back to life?” That’s something bookworm Maddy Stone never thought she would need to answer; then she saves a drowning man at the psychiatric ward where she volunteers just to discover that he’s her ex-boyfriend, Jesse, who committed suicide several months before.
Addis on the Inside (Jan/Feb of 2019) is a dystopian novella about a society of morphoid-addicted people kept in domes–at least until the protagonist, Jayla, decides to take the Authority down.
I CANNOT WAIT to share these new books with you! In the meantime, books four and five of The Sun Dragon Series will also be published by Harmony Ink, so be on the lookout for those in July of this year and January of next year!
They call me “the gay dragon lady.”
It’s an accurate nickname. All five books in The Sun Dragon Series feature protagonists who are LGBTQI, and several of them happen to be half-human, half-dragon people. See, that’s my thing: I write young adult novels with LGBTQI protagonists that are, for the most part, centered on the fantasy journey or epic battle instead of the fact that the character is LGBTQI.
I didn’t intend to write young adult books about gay dragons; I didn’t intend to write young adult novels at all. But when I visited a group of LGBTQI youth at Rainbow Room, a program through Planned Parenthood, to talk about being an author, they told me over and over again that there was no fiction on the shelves that represented them. That told a story first, and happened to have an LGBTQI main character as the protagonist at the same time.
So I wrote them one.
And a five book series.
It wasn’t until Starsong, the third book in The Sun Dragon Series, that I realized just how much my degree in Women’s Studies was influencing my work. Starsong takes place on Draman, an alien planet filled with intersex people (though they do not learn that word until they visit Earth) who are forced to pick a gender at age ten as part of their naming ceremony. Same-gender relationships are banned, so the decision also affects who the person can love from that point forward.
Could there be a better example of gender as a social construct?
During my time at George Washington University, I was enthralled, as most women’s studies majors are, by Judith Butler. I had never thought of gender as a performance, as something to be subverted. But years later, as I watched the chapters of Starsong flood the blank pages in front of me, I realized just how much Gender Trouble and Bodies that Matter had affected me.
And Dramanian society gets subverted pretty quickly. One child, Skelly, refuses to pick a robe, throwing all of the Dramanian royals into an uproar and forcing Sara Lee, maid to the Princess, to help them flee the planet. Here is an excerpt from that moment:
Soon, the last child took the floor. Nothing about the shoes, the shape of the clothing beneath, or even the facial features gave him or her away, and after years of ceremonies, I was an expert. Finally challenged, I sat up in my seat and watched this one with interest. Their eyes were an intense green, extremely rare for the darker complexion of Dramanians. There was a focus in every movement of the limbs, a calculation not often found in children, though the limbs of this child were much smaller and daintier than their age would suggest.
“Red or black, dear?” the master of ceremonies prompted. The hour was late, and our guests had not yet had dessert. After that there would be dancing, and I was sure Aduerto would insist on parading me around the room on his arm.
The rest of the book is told through Nimue’s, Sara Lee’s, and Skelly’s perspective, and intertwines with the other books in the series through a battle with evil robots from the second book and a time jump back to the first.
Even though the circumstances in the beginning of Starsong were intentional, please don’t think that I go into every book with a theoretical agenda. I typically like to set things up and then watch them fall as they will, following the characters as complex individuals who make their own decisions more than following any specific plot I’ve cooked up. I am just as shocked as the reader when someone dies, or when someone falls in love with the wrong sibling. Some writers outline their stories, but I’m not one of them. Even in Starsong, the question of gender performance is never exactly answered, and later, in books like Luminosity, gender performance will again play a large role in the identity of the main character.
In my opinion, my role as an author of fiction is not to make those decisions for the reader. It’s not to preach, or to further an agenda, or to say what’s right or wrong. It’s to make the reader think, for a few hundred pages, in a new way. To ask themselves a new question, and to determine the answer on their own.
When my first adult novel, Cairo in White, came out shortly after I graduated from the writing program at Johns Hopkins University, a very socially conservative reader emailed me to say that the story of an Egyptian lesbian who is forced to marry her lover’s brother had changed her mind about the topic of gay marriage. No one should be separated if they are in love, she’d decided, and my book had been the thing to change her mind.
It had forced her to think, for a few hundred pages, in a new way.
I hope the same thing happens with Starsong. I hope it asks the right questions rather than gives the right answers, and that it helps readers see the world through someone else’s eyes.
Especially when those eyes are in the head of a really cool bone dragon.
Here’s a video from my reading from Starsong: Book Three in the Sun Dragon Series at Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia!
I am absolutely IN LOVE with this the book cover for Caden’s Comet: Book Four in The Sun Dragon Series. Stef Masciandaro does incredible work!
Here’s the back cover blurb:
Long ago, in the days before King Roland, the four dragon kingdoms—Ice, Sun, Earth, and Bone—battled for dominion over the bountiful planet Earth. Prince Grian, a young dragon, hid aboard a Sun Dragon ship, traveled to Earth, and met Caden, an Earth Dragon who’d run away from his village. Despite falling in love, destiny’s plans for them turned cruel, and both perished in the war.
The Artists who created the universe could not let this tragic loss of true love go unpunished. They wiped out the race of Sun Dragons, exiled the Bone Dragons to Draman, and banished the Ice Dragons to the North Pole, safely away from the Earth Dragons. Only the rebirth of Grian and Caden could break the curse. One day, the return of their love would usher in an age of peace and prosperity for all dragons.
But when Prince Grian is reborn, he finds reuniting with his soulmate on Earth will be no easy feat. As he searches for his lost love, the Earth Dragon Protection Society, or EDPS, searches for him, ready to kill him when they find him. If Grian can elude the EDPS, he might find that the true love he once had isn’t guaranteed to bloom a second time.
COMING JULY 2017!
If you haven’t read The Sun Dragon: Book One in The Sun Dragon Series yet, comment below with your email address (preferably in a safe format, for example annabellejayauthor (at) gmail dot com) for a chance to win a copy of the ebook!
Today I guest blogged for My Fiction Nook about my new book, Starsong, and the “friends first” romance of the two main characters, Sara Lee and Princess Nimue. Check it out here!
I guest blogged for MM Good Book reviews about my new book, Starsong: Book Three in The Sun Dragon Series. Check out the post about bone dragons here.