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Publication date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Nicole Conway
Can one boy stand between two kingdoms at war?
Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.
While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.
Everything Jaevid learned at the academy will now be put to the ultimate test.
And now for my interview with author Nicole Conway!
1.) You originally self-published this title. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey from self-publication to publication with Month9Books?
My road to publication certainly wasn’t the conventional one! I knew Fledgling was special right from the start. Of everything I had written up to that point, I knew this was the story I wanted to take the plunge into real publication with, so I started querying to agents. Six months and several dozen query letters later, I hadn’t even gotten any interest at all. Most of the time, all I received was a form rejection letter. Naturally, I was a little discouraged. Others had given me plenty of fair warning about how much rejection I was in for, but even they admitted it was strange that I hadn’t even gotten a single bit of interest.
No one in the business, publisher or agent, was willing to give me the time of day. So I took a leap of faith and self-published the book. I knew I had a sellable product. I just have to prove it.
Three months and 30 thousand sold copies later, I got my first contact from a publisher interested in the rights to my book. But even that wasn’t what surprised me the most. I was absolutely blown away and humbled by the response from fans who loved Jaevid and Mavrik as much as I did. They left reviews and praise for my work. I got fan mail every day from readers begging for more. It was the most validating thing in the world to know that other people believed in the book as much as I did.
I met my agent, Jennifer Mishler, through a mutual friend. She was eager to get started submitting the book right away, and I was relieved to finally have someone in my corner who knew the business end of things. Jennifer submitted my work to Month9Books, and within a week or two I was signing a contract for the Dragonrider Chronicles. It absolutely was a childhood dream come true. My path to publication was a little bizarre, but it taught me a lot about having patience and faith. Sometimes, you have to believe in yourself even when no one else does.
2.) What draws you to the fantasy genre?
There’s so much in the fantasy genre that captures my imagination. Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite books revolved around stories of fantasy kingdoms, dragons, elves, and knights. I really don’t think I ever grew up pasting wanting a pet dragon of my own, or imagining myself as a knight on a quest. There’s so much freedom in inventing your own world and populating it with creatures and people of your own design. It’s an addiction I’ll never get over, and I’m perfectly fine with that.
3.) What are your influences? What books have inspired you?
My husband influences me a lot, mostly because I consider him to be a modern-day knight. He’s chivalrous, honest, brave beyond comprehension, and so noble in his morality. I’m incredibly blessed to be sharing my life with him. As far as books go, there are so many that have inspired me over the years. It’s really difficult to narrow it down. But to name just a few. . .
I would have to say that Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville is what made me fall in love with the idea of dragons. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones captivated me with the concept of whimsical magic. The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip opened my eyes to the unconventional love story. The Dark Elf Trilogy by R. A. Salvatore taught me how powerful a narrator can be when drawing you into a story. Of course, there are plenty of others, but these come to mind immediately when I think about books that have been as instructional as they were inspiring to me.
4.) What was it about this story that compelled you to write and publish it? What is the “heart” of your story?
From the very beginning, Jaevid captured my heart. He was unlike any other character I had made before. He was an unlikely hero with a soft heart, who had faced the horrible brutality of war and managed to retain his sense of compassion in spite of it. I knew he could not only carry a story, but he could also tell it in a way that would be enjoyable and relatable to others.
Without giving too much away, one of my favorite quotes comes from Fledgling’s sequel, which is titled Avian. The quote is actually the very heart and soul of the entire series. The essence of it is that “it takes great darkness to reveal great light,” meaning the times when circumstances are at their worst are the best opportunities for those who can stand strong to become beacons of hope to others. As human beings, we are given a special gift to rise up and overcome the most impossible obstacles. Those are the moments when real heroes are born, even in the smallest everyday situations.
5.) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice for an aspiring writer is simple: Don’t. Stop. Writing. The more you write, the better you will become. Keep your mind open to every possibility, and don’t give in to discouragement and frustration. There will always be people who are more than happy to tell you that you can’t do something. But you choose your own level of success. People who achieve their dreams aren’t the ones who just sit on the sidelines and hope. You have to work hard, you have to be relentless, and you have to be willing to take criticism with poise and grace. Believe me, in the end, it will make success taste even sweeter.
Excerpt (and secret word for stop #13):
The Crookin’s house was not as big as ours, but it felt more like a home instead of the prison I lived in. Smoke came out of the chimney in the house, and out of the stack for the bellows in Mr. Crookin’s forge. Mr. Crookin didn’t really like me. That’s not to say he hated me as much as Serah did, but he didn’t like me coming around his house too often. He hadn’t minded it so much when I was younger, but now that I was fifteen, I could tell he was on the verge of telling me not to come back anymore. He didn’t talk much, and he had a face that was mostly hidden behind a thick, wiry beard. He wore his long black smithing apron every day, and his face and arms were almost always smeared with soot.
Mrs. Crookin, on the other hand, was one of the few people who didn’t make me feel unwanted. She smiled at me when we came inside, wiping her hands on her apron before she pulled me in immediately to kiss my forehead and ruffle my hair. She always hugged me until I couldn’t breathe, and asked me if I was getting enough to eat.
Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.
Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.
She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.
Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.
Finally, to celebrate, a giveaway!
Winner will be drawn May 31, 2014
· Four (4) winners will receive an ebook copy of Fledgling by Nicole Conway (INT)
· Five (5) winners will receive a paperback copy of Fledgling by Nicole Conway (US/Canada)
· One (1) winner will receive an ebook copy of Fledgling by Nicole Conway AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card or B&N Gift Card – Winner’s Choice (INT)