In the Shadow of the Dragon King by J. Keller Ford
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Seventeen-year-old, Eric, is a kick-butt squire to the most revered knight in Fallhollow. Well he would be if Sir Trogsdill allowed him to do anything even remotely awesome. Determined to prove his worth, Eric sets out to find the mythical paladin summoned to protect the realm from the evil lurking nearby.
Sixteen-year-old, David, spends his days collecting school honors, winning archery tournaments, and trying not to fall in love with his scrappy best friend, Charlotte.
Right when things start to get interesting, he is whisked away to the magical realm of Fallhollow where everyone thinks he’s some sort of paladin destined to fulfill a two-hundred-year-old prophecy. He’s supposed to help kill a dragon with some sort of magic key. The same key that happens to adorn the neck of an annoying squire who’s too wrapped up in proving himself to be much help to anyone.
With egos as big as the dragon they need to destroy, Eric and David must get over themselves, or watch everything they know and love, burn.
MEET THE AUTHOR
J. Keller Ford (known to all as Jenny) is a scribbler of Young Adult and New Adult speculative fiction. As a young Army brat, she traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany’s most extraordinary castles in hopes of finding snarky dragons, chivalrous knights and wondrous magic that permeated her imagination. What she found remains etched in her topsy-turvy mind and oozes out in sweeping tales of courage, sacrifice, honor and everlasting love.
When not torturing her keyboard or trying to silence the voices in her head, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, screaming on roller coasters and traveling. Jenny is a mom to four magnificent and noble offspring, and currently lives in paradise on the west coast of Florida with a quirky knight who was silly enough to marry her, and a menagerie of royal pets. Published works include short stories, The Amulet of Ormisez, Dragon Flight, and The Passing of Millie Hudson. IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING is her debut novel and the first installment in the Chronicles of Fallhollow Trilogy.
Why I write YA fantasy
Many people have asked me why I write YA, and more specifically why YA fantasy verses something like literary or contemporary fiction. Some believe that YA authors write YA because it’s easier to write than adult fiction. Young adults are easy to understand. They all have the same problems, the same school issues, the same relationship problems. All they do is study, party, make out, do drugs. All the stories are the same self-absorbed plots, right?
While teens do go through all of these things, it doesn’t mean that they are easy to figure out. Teens are complicated, maybe even more so than adults. They are leaving behind the part of them that always relied on adults to guide them, and trying to find ways how to guide themselves. Yes, they make bad decisions. They also make some pretty darn good ones. Their emotions do teeter on the edge of sanity and crazy. They haven’t learned the lessons of life that teach how to control them or understand them. They are still finding their way in a vast and uncertain world. They want to be their own trail blazers. They’re scared, excited, bold, timid, but they are also amazing, energetic, explorative, resilient, sensitive, kind, smart, full of ideas and ingenuity.
Writing for them is not easy.
They can see through stupidity and falseness. They know when an author is talking down to them, whether in real life or in books. Yes, teens make mistakes. They also like seeing characters in books overcome those same mistakes in ways they might overcome them in “real life”. Teens are not going to react the same way as adults. They aren’t going to use the same language as adults. I think authors who try to push this or try to teach lessons in their books run the risk of losing their young readers. Teens don’t want to be preached to. They want guidance. They want to discover.
Writing YA fantasy to me takes all of this to a different level. No, there are no such things as dragons, but that doesn’t mean teens don’t love fighting off dangerous and formidable foes. Give them a fantastical element and teens feel ‘safe’ in fighting those demons, whether mythical creatures or magical beings. I think every teen can relate to characters like Snape and Professor Umbridge. If only magic were real, right?
I also think writing fantasy opens up whole new worlds that stir the imagination. Teens begin to lose their imagination as they get older. They are told to keep their feet on the ground and their heads out of the clouds. I disagree. More teens need to take flight. More teens need to be who and what they are, reach for the stars. They, just like adults, need a place where they can go to escape the complexities of life. They need to be able to ride a Pegasus. Traverse rainbows. Befriend a pixie or a gnome. Slay sea monsters. Fall in love with a mermaid. Join forces with Greek gods. The sky and the imagination are limitless. I like providing that. I like shattering the ceiling. I like giving teens the wings to fly. That’s why I write YA fantasy. Now go break some barriers.