Over two years ago, I participated in a genre mashup flash fiction challenge – the “genres” I was randomly assigned were dystopian and shapeshifting. I took some literary license and went more post-apocalyptic than dystopian, and I created a short story about a teenage boy who survives a global pandemic only to be gifted the ability to shapeshift into a dragon.
It was such a cool concept that it quickly outgrew the bounds of a short story. So I expanded on it and turned it into a Young Adult novel that would become Drake and the Fliers.
I’ll tell you a secret – I love all of my books, but this one holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wrote the book with my sons in mind. Not many YA novels have male protagonists, let alone one that basically develops superpowers. It’s a story I wanted to tell them, one of forgiveness and redemption, of working together and overcoming differences.
I enjoyed writing Drake, Preston, and Talon so much that creating their story became an excuse to spend time with them. Of those three, it may surprise some readers to learn Preston was my favorite to write. His story (and to a lesser degree, Sonar’s story) is a combination of a few I heard when I visited a homeless shelter for LGBTQ teens, most of whom were kicked out of their homes because of their sexual orientation. With the guidance of a couple of friends who are part of that community, I hoped to create a compelling and relatable character.
After the book was finished and I debated querying it to agents, I was given some discouraging pieces of information – that urban fantasy and post-apocalypic stories are hard sells, and the teen pregnancy part of the story would make it an even harder sell. That made the decision to self-publish an easy one.
Drake has been slower to, um, take off than The Fourth Descendant was, but I can’t say I’m surprised. The genre and audience are completely different. At first glance, the story is odd.
However, I am not discouraged, because I was also not surprised to see it become a big hit with readers.
Readers love Drake and the others as much as I do. Fans have asked for a sequel, and while I initially hadn’t planned to write one, the demand for it combined with my love for the characters compelled me to do this.
That’s an “outline” for what we’ll call Drake 2 for now, scratched inside my book from the writer’s conference.
The short story may become two books after all.
If you’ve read and reviewed Drake and the Fliers, thank you for helping to make the first year a great one. I have big hopes for the years yet to come.