This week's spotlight falls on Dan Wright, author of Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince.
Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince is a fantasy suitable for kids and adults.
Blurb: Threatened with eviction, Amanda Moonstone stumbles across a lost Prince, of which there is a reward for his safe return. But what Amanda doesn’t know is that this “reward” is actually a wicked plan created by the tyrannical King Kimera, who will stop at nothing to keep his claim on the Royal Throne intact. Even murdering the Prince.
However, finding the Prince may just be the key to undoing the one mistake that has haunted her for over a year. Because being a sorceress comes with a terrible price...
From the shadows, a mysterious man in black watches every step Amanda takes. But what is his purpose? And what part does the insidious Blood gem (her most guarded of gems) have to play in Amanda's future?
Extract: Chapter 1
Amanda crushed up ingredients in her bowl, grinding and then mixing them into a thick paste. The mixture was one part each of roseflower and cromiweed, two parts bone dust, and a dash of salt. When she was done, she double-checked the recipe.
“Okay,” Amanda mumbled to herself, “now we have to mix it with fresh water and then stir it with some red draught potion—boiled.”
She checked the red draught—it had already begun to bubble. She pointed a finger at the glass bottle and the flames increased ever so slightly in response. When she was sure the flame didn’t require her attention, she mixed the paste with a vial of water and stirred it until it was thick and syrupy, creating a honey colour. She then pointed towards the red mixture. The glass container hovered in the air, lifted by Amanda’s will alone.
She checked the scroll again. “Add two litres worth of boiling red draught to the mix. Measurements must be exact to get the desired effect.
“Well, here goes nothing.”
The red draught hovered over the vial of syrup. She could barely contain her excitement. If she got the mixture right, this would be a bestseller. She had been desperate to get a hold of the ingredients, and they had not come cheap. It would all be worth it when the potion was complete.
This is the one, she thought. This is the one that’s going to solve all my problems.
The end of the bottle tipped towards the awaiting syrup, a line of red liquid gradually trickling its way to the end of the bottle.
What would happen? Would there be an explosion—a burst of light? Mixing different potions often had different effects. She held her breath.
A thump at her front door broke her concentration. The red mixture dropped from the air and crashed to the floor, spilling its contents everywhere. Amanda could only stare as her months of preparation had come to naught.
The thumping on her door continued. Grumbling, Amanda stormed over to see who dared disturbed her work. She put on her best pout and flung the door open.
When she saw who it was, she instantly regretted her tone.
“Oh…er…hello, Miss Berger.”
Miss Berger was a rotund woman with hair the colour of mouldy parchment. Her face seemed to be permanently etched with disagreement, as if it were impossible for her to smile. She glared at Amanda with fists on her wide hips.
“Er, lovely day we’re having,” Amanda said, trying to make polite conversation.
“You know what day it is, Moonstone?” Berger crowed.
“Er…the last day of the month?”
“It’s the first of the month.” Berger held out a hand. “Pay up.”
Rent. Oh, bother.
“Ah,” Amanda stuttered. “Yes…you see, there has been a little bit of a drought in sales recently and…well, you know, making potions is expensive.” She laughed nervously, but Berger’s frowning eyebrows and curled lip gave Amanda the impression that she didn’t see the humour in that statement. “I need ingredients and…well, they aren’t cheap.”
“You don’t have it, do you?”
“Give me just one more month and I swear I’ll have it.”
“That’s what you said last month, and the month before that—and the month before that! In fact, you’ve said little else for the last five months! My patience is wearing thin with you, Moonstone.”
“I know—I know…I’m sorry, but I promise you, I’m working on a new potion and it’s going to be a bestseller!”
Berger gazed into her house towards the potion table. She spotted the broken glass on the floor, and then glanced back to Amanda.
“What have I told you?” Berger snapped. “You’ll ruin the woodwork! That,” she stabbed a pudgy finger towards the mess, “is going on your bill!”
“Really? Oh, come on…”
“I’ve been very kind to you—kinder than I should have been after what you did. I know you had problems, but my patience is wearing thin. One month without paying rent is bad enough, two is unacceptable—but five? Accommodation here isn’t free. You either pay rent or you’re out.”
Amanda was trapped. She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. “You know…you shouldn’t mess with a sorceress. Not when she could use her magic to…burn you alive.”
Berger glared back, folding her arms, which was a bit of an effort given the layers of fat padding her midsection.
“That was a bad joke,” Amanda apologised sheepishly. “But please…can’t you just give me a little extension? I have some really good stock to sell this time, I promise! Just a little extension is all I ask for.”
Berger’s glare did not disappear. Amanda had used the same plea before. This time, Berger didn’t seem convinced. “You have until the end of the week,” she allowed.
“Well, you see, I was kind of hoping for another couple of months or so…”
“End of the week—production problems or not,” Berger stated sternly. “No rent, no home. Take it or leave it.”
Berger walked away, a slight waddle in her step.
“Right,” Amanda said after her. “End of the week. No problem.” She closed the door lightly, sighing.
Bio: Dan lives Canterbury, Kent, UK. He picked up a love of Fantasy stories after reading The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and numerous Roald Dahl novels. He is best known for his Draconica series, a Fantasy/Manga series that has been praised for its Anime style action, humour and illustrations. He has also had a short comic strip called Queller, which was published in an anthology for the comic Lighting Strike Presents . . . and has also been a judge for a book competition at his local school. Dan also runs various websites dedicated to the world of Draconica, a blog and he occasionally reviews books. His other hobby is playing guitar in a band called Rage of Silence. He likes all kinds of music—but he mainly listens to rock and metal, rap, some pop music and also film and video game scores. He also loves Disney and Pixar movies—often finding himself singing along to the tunes, or crying manly tears! He is also a slave to his cat, who takes up a lot of his time when he isn’t at work or writing!
- I love books with fantasy and magic. What were some of the books you read growing up that led you to write in this genre?
Fantasy has always been my first love of reading and storytelling. I grew up reading Roald Dahl novels (The BFG and The Witches were my favourite, despite how creepy they were), but my dad also used to read me C.S. Lewis novels as well. Later in life I became interested in medieval, Greek and Egyptian mythology (great inspiration for Fantasy). And of course, I can’t talk about Fantasy without mentioning Lord of the Rings – I know it’s a bit clichéd for Fantasy writers mentioning that, but I really love that series. Later influences include Manga, Comics and Disney films.
Basically my novels are a mix of many different elements of various stories I read growing up.
- Tell us about your publishing experience and what you have learned about the writing business now that you have one published?
I have been both self published and published through through an indie press – although as of early June I ended my contract with them and decided to publish Amanda Moonstone myself. I think the most important lesson I learned from this is that I’m better off self publishing XD.
Don’t be me wrong – my publisher showed a lot of support and took on Amanda Moonstone, and the editing/proofreading side of it was incredible. However, the reason I tried to find a publisher was that I wanted to focus mainly on the writing and leave the promotion side of things to them. However, I found myself having to do most (if not ALL) the work my end, so what it basically boiled down to was that I was doing most of the work for such a small royalty share. Plus, I have to say I wasn’t entirely happy with certain aspects of the whole process and I’m not really sure they actually “believed” in it the way they told me. Maybe I misread that though. In the end, being with the publisher wasn’t really doing much to my advantage. Thankfully they were understanding and I was able to end my contract with them without any fuss.
If I’ve learned anything from this experience it’s this. If you decide to look for a publisher and find one, ask yourself “what can they do that I can’t?” If they can give you a big push and do most of the work for you, great. But if they basically tell you that you’ll need to do most of the promotion/advertising – well then you probably are wasting your time. That being said, if you can get a great publisher that supports you, go for it! Do what’s best for you!
- What are you currently working on? Is there a sequel in the works?
As well as this series, I have a Manga inspired Fantasy series called The Draconica Series – of which I’ll be writing the final part of that saga very soon. And yes I have a sequel in the works for this novel. In fact I have about four books in the series planned, plus some short stories and other ideas in mind. I often have about 100 ideas at once – putting them to paper is a different story altogether.
- When I tell people I'm a writer of fantasy, they always ask me what my "real" job is. Have you had some similar experiences and do you also wish you could write full time and give up the "real" job?
I think every author at some point has had this. But honestly, it doesn’t bother me. As long as people don’t ask me if my book is like 50 Shades of Grey (because for some people that’s the ONLY novel to have ever existed apparently) then I’m ok.
As it happens, I have a job that I enjoy doing, plus I have a band that I enjoy playing with. If I could write full time that would be great, but at the moment I’m happy where I am. I also have kinda come to the realisation that I will never be a bestselling author – and I say that as a realist and not a pessimist – but as long as I enjoy what I’m doing then that’s great.
- For those that are reading this, what can you tell them about your book that might convince them to give it a try?
If you guys love Elsa from Frozen then you’ll love the character of Amanda. She’s a sassy sorceress with plenty of great magic, but also a tragic backstory that many can relate to. Her journey is one of redemption and she learns the true meaning of happiness by the end. You’ll also have stunning artwork throughout that perfectly captures the whimsical nature of this world and its characters. It’s a fun, magical read for readers of all ages.