“Debut author Rice offers an allegorical YA fantasy novel about the transformative power of self-love.
Savvy, coffee-loving teenager Allison Lee is strong beyond her years. The biracial girl faces open discrimination and also copes with her apparent abandonment by her mother, who disappeared several years ago. She’s developed a keen sense of social justice along with a skill for photography. When a mysterious stalker hits her over the head, leaving her blind, she turns to an experimental eye-surgery procedure that forever changes her view of the world. Once, Allison saw her camera as her window to the truth; now, with her naked eye, she’s able to see mythological creatures that aren’t visible to other humans and that fight to protect their way of life. Allison’s ability results in her embarking on a dangerous adventure as she discovers her own highly unusual dragon-hunting legacy. She faces mortal peril as she protects humans and other creatures from a violent, otherworldly onslaught. Along the way, she also gets in touch with her own physical and emotional resilience. Although dragons play a central role in Rice’s work, the heart of the narrative is found in simple humanity and in a celebration of differences. Throughout, characters demonstrate emotional growth as they confront their limiting beliefs about others and embrace a sense of family. The story addresses serious, socially relevant subject matter, such as discrimination, poverty, and bullying, but it’s never preachy; indeed, it has a lighthearted tone that will resonate with adolescent readers. It concludes on an affirming, heartfelt note that will leave readers thoroughly satisfied yet also curious about the future of Rice’s magical fictional world.
An inspirational and socially relevant fantasy.”
- Kirkus Reviews
We head for the Chapel Library off the quad to study with Haji. Over an inch of snow hides the red bricks of the quad. The snow falls dry and thick, quickly filling in our footprints. We enter the library and walk to a chamber like a cathedral with a high vaulted ceiling, book-lined walls, and long tables. The room is only sparsely populated with studying students, so we easily find an empty table and sit across from each other.
We decide to work on algebra while we wait for Haji. We’re deep into working quadratic equations when someone loudly clearing their throat makes me nearly jump out of my seat. We both look up, searching for the disturbance. I half expect the culprit to be Haji.
It’s a tall and absurdly thin man standing just inside the entrance to the reading room. I recognize him as Dr. Radcliffe from the many faculty functions I’ve attended with Dad over the years. I stare at him, entranced, not believing what I’m seeing.
“Allison, is something wrong?” Dalia whispers.
“No,” I say and drag my gaze back to the quadratic equation written in my notebook.
Dalia resumes talking about strategies to solve the equation, but I barely register a word. My gaze is lured back to Dr. Radcliffe like a particle inexorably pulled into a black hole. My eyes widen, and my jaw slackens. Furrowing my brow, I blink, desperate to clear the mind-boggling absurdity from my vision.
Writer's Block. Does it exist?
I suppose it's a subjective thing. If you think you suffer from it, you probably do.
My critique group, the Puget Sound Writers' Guild, had a resident writer, may he rest in peace, who staunchly did not believe in writer's block. If you can't come up with ideas and bring them to fruition, then you aren't creative enough to cut it as a writer. He could be hard, but he was a best-selling author under several pen names, so who were we, his pupils, to contradict him.
Now, I won't go so far as to say writer's block simply does not exist. But I do think there are practices a writer can implement to overcome it. Personally, I've never suffered from writer's block. For example, the characters and plot for Dragons Walk Among Us came easily to me. It probably helped that I've been thinking about some of the central fantasy elements of the story for years. Here's my remedy, or put another way, how I avoid writer's block.
I start small with a one-page concept that lays out the story from start to finish in broad strokes. This isn't easy; it's hard. It takes me numerous drafts to get the concept down to one page, but I think it's worth it. From that, I create a scene-by-scene outline that I ultimately treat as a roadmap. It shows me how to get from the start line to the finish line, but I can always take detours and side trips along the way. I find the rough draft flows quite naturally from this roadmap.
If you suffer from writer's block, start small. That strategy has always served me well.
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