FRIDAY SF & FANTASY – The Dalya Series
Ashes and Blood
Dalya Book 1
by Katie Zaber
Princess Megan, who never had a reason to assume she was anything but human, has been on the run, protected by her friends. With each step toward the city of Delmont, she hopes they will have time to regroup before setting sail to the Ka’Pamau Islands, their final destination. Instead, her bad luck shadows her and chaos continues to ensue everywhere she goes—including a new part of the world that most air breathers have yet to explore. Confronted with another royal family and a smitten prince whose advances turn cold, she faces another life-altering decision with ramifications she can’t possibly begin to guess at.
Back on land, Lilly reveals more of her secrets, her story, and her goals. Monumental changes and challenges are headed her way as she embraces her new role in life.
On the sea, Aunt Carmia is stirring up trouble while continuing her hunt for the treasure she most desires. She experiences upheavals, but she is always prepared for the unknown.
As their stories unfold, they remain unaware how fate connects them in the world of Dalya.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Waretown—pronounced where-town, New Jersey. The name is a perfect description of the town. As a child in the car, I would blink and be in the next town over. My childhood house is blocks away from a lagoon and is a quick walk to Barnegat Bay. With ice cream cones in hand, our family took many walks down to the bay, to say hi to Old Barny—the Lighthouse on Long Beach Island. My elementary school was inland in the Pine Barrens, home to the New Jersey Devil. I can remember going to Wells Mills Park, a mile away from the school, to go on a field trip and read about the notorious birth and how the Devil still haunts the woods. He was even rumored to make appearances at kid’s birthday parties. There were tons of woods and swamps to explore. When the streetlights came on and our shoes were too muddy from the day playing, a quick splash in the bay was all they needed before going home for dinner. Our shoes never were allowed inside the house. My imagination went wild in the woods by the bay and I went on many adventures within my small community. It’s those childhood memories that continue to inspire my writing, revisiting those distant lands not too far from my childhood home.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love baking delicious desserts and breads, almost as much as I love to eat them. I spend hours in the kitchen, blasting music, sipping sweet wine, with flour up to my elbows. When not in the kitchen, I’m reading a book or trying to find something to find on TV. If the weather is nice, I’m visiting my hometown and going to the beach or heading to Six Flags Great Adventure to scream for the afternoon.
Describe your desk.
My desk is a wonderland of post-it notes in three different colors: pink, neon-yellow, and green. A yellow, mini-spiral notebook holds all my scribbles on marketing tips and info. The notebook is separated by little sticker tabs, the ones not in use are floating on the surface of pamphlets and lists of login information to accounts I never visit. A leather bounded diary with nautical embellishments, complete with anchor bookmark, holds random thoughts that need to be worked out on paper. A mechanical pen can be spotted, hiding between the yellow notebook and leather diary. Its extra parts: erasers & extra graphite are strewn about the entire desk. Lastly, a rectangular, leather box holds a brass kaleidoscope made to look like it was used on a whimsical pirate ship. I zone out, staring through it when confronting a writing block. Somehow, all the colors and childishness of it helps me every time.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
The first draft for Ashes and Blood started when I while I was recovering from surgery and bored out of my mind. A Christian song, Lord of the Dance, somehow was stuck in my head and my imagination took over. I pictured a king singing the song—a much more sinister version—while destroying a village of people that disobeyed him. At first, the story was going to be about him and how his reign ends, which made me change my focus. I wanted the story to be about someone ordinary, without any powers or ability to fight. Someone who should die when faced with impossible feats, but can overcome them.
What are you working on next?
Dalya series is my main project with the first five books already plotted. The second book, Below Dark Waters, is in the editing phase, and should be out in the summer. Book three, Stranger Shores, is in the first stage on being drafted. When I need to focus on something else, I have another book and series that I’ve been toying with. DNA—Demon’s N Angel’s, is a standalone book about a woman’s journey through her mysterious pregnancy. I’m hoping to have that out in the fall. Another series I’m developing is called, Lullabies from the Grave. It’s about a woman that can get in touch with her past life’s, every life that her spirit lived. She sees ghosts and is involved in the paranormal.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love books that take me to a different world or way of thinking. So I mainly go for authors in that realm: J.R.R. Tolkien, Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher, Karen Marie Moning, John Conroe, Laini Taylor, Margret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, George R.R. Martin, Jennifer Estep, Naomi Novik… just to name a few.
How do you approach cover design?
I search for an artist whose gallery looks close to what I want as a finished project. Each artist has a unique style, vision, and way of creating your idea. It’s all about finding the right match. Then I tell the artist what I envision, send them a couple images of things close to what I want, and then let their mind go to work. One of the most important things about working with a designer is to let them mold your idea into what will sell. They know art. They know what graphic design’s catches the eye and what colors to use when trying to portray a certain feeling or tone. They know what they are doing.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I wrote, was after I had read the elementary school book, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. I wanted a sequel to the book and was mad that there wasn’t one. So I got a bunch of paper and started to write. I think I wrote around 50-60 pages before I started a different project and forgot about it. Years later, when I told my mom that I had finished writing Ashes and Blood, she said I still have your first book. I told her one day I would finish it, just for her.
Katie Zaber is originally from Southern New Jersey. Her childhood home is just minutes from the Long Beach Island Bridge. When not writing, Katie can be found at wine tastings, sun bathing at the beach, going for hikes, screaming at Six Flags, reading, or in her favorite place, her kitchen, baking desserts and breads. She currently lives in Morris County, New Jersey with her boyfriend.
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