Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.
I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Dan Rice…
Author Dan Rice – Photography in my New Release: The Blood of Faeries
Since college, I’ve been passionate about photography—specifically, anything nature-related. The photo bug bit me while visiting Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. I recall being impressed by the refined beauty of Delicate Arch, which is often seen on postcards and advertisements promoting the area. But what blew my mind was a book I picked up at the visitor center, Our National Parks by Ansel Adams. I was addicted.
This was in the early 2000s, so digital photography was relatively new. I spent several years shooting slide film and scanning slides with a film scanner. Not the ideal workflow, let me tell you. The scanners weren’t the best back then, and dust was a great annoyance. Switching to digital was a godsend, although it didn’t eliminate the dust problem. Every time you change a lens on the camera, there is an opportunity for dust to invade. However, the overall workflow is vastly improved with digital photography, and the cost of film is eliminated.
I’ve had great fun hiking and traveling with my camera. In the summer of 2021, my older son and I visited Yellowstone and the Tetons. Both are superb locations for landscape and wildlife photography. It was a memorable trip for both of us. At the time, he was trying out photography for himself and was obsessed with snagging photos of a bear and a wolf. He got his wish, capturing both in Yellowstone.
In my novels, Dragons Walk Among Us and The Blood of Faeries, the protagonist, Allison Lee, is a high schooler with dreams of becoming a photojournalist. She shoots photos for her school’s online news source and rarely leaves the house without her camera. In Dragons Walk Among Us, her photography plays an essential role in the plot as she attempts to capture photographs of antagonistic characters who might not be from this world. In the sequel, her photography doesn’t play a prominent role in the plot, but it is still central to her characterization.
I decided to make Allison a photo bug because I believe in writing what you know. Photography is an activity I know quite a bit about, so it’s easy to impart that characteristic to Allison. She spends most of her time behind the camera photographing high school basketball, her squad, and a street protest. I’ve never photographed a basketball game, but I have taken thousands of snaps of my sons playing soccer. The protest Allison photographs is far and away wilder than anything I’ve experienced. However, a few months before the pandemic resulted in a lockdown in my neck of the woods, I participated in and photographed a woman’s march. It’s not my typical photographic event, but it was invigorating to document it.
Writing about photography in my fiction is a fantastic way to share my passion with more people. Also, it adds a sense of verisimilitude to Allison that would otherwise be difficult to achieve without time-consuming research. For the busy author, time is a priceless currency.
Sometimes there’s no going back.
Allison Lee wilts under the bright light of celebrity after being exposed as a shape-shifting monster. She’d rather be behind the camera than in front of it. Being under the tooth and claw of her monstrous mother is even less enjoyable. All she desires is for everything to go back to the way things were before she discovered her true nature.
But, after she accidentally kills a mysterious man sent to kidnap her, she realizes piecing her old life back together is one gnarly jigsaw puzzle. When Allison’s sometimes boyfriend Haji goes missing, Allison and her squad suspect his unhealthy interest in magic led to his disappearance. Their quest to find Haji brings them face-to-face with beings thought long ago extinct whose agenda remains an enigma.
“This is the Seattle PD,” booms an announcement from a loudspeaker. “Do not attempt to breach the police line.”
Like everyone else, I turn toward City Hall. I stand on my tiptoes but can’t see much. The vanguard of protesters is within feet of the police line. When I turn back to where I expect to find Drake, he’s gone. The march has slowed almost to a stop. People gather in small groups chanting and dancing. Sunlight glinting off her copper scales, Mauve towers above the crowd off to the left at least twenty feet behind me.
“We the people demand the mayor take measures to make Seattle carbon neutral now!” someone shouts into a bullhorn. “Come on, everyone. Let’s make sure Mayor Andretti hears us! Carbon neutral now! Carbon neutral now!”
The chant reverberates through the crowd, growing into a roar. I join the chanting and shoot pictures of young people screaming and waving signs. I dart between people, desperate to take photos of the action up front.
“In fact,” roars the voice from the bullhorn, “we want Seattle to be carbon negative! We want Seattle to be the capital of carbon capture technology! Invest in carbon capture technology now, Mayor Andretti! Before it’s too late!”
The mob repeats: “Carbon capture! Carbon capture!”
I weave between clusters of protesters, occasionally brushing against people. The screaming and sign waving are riotous near the frontline. I stop and snap more photos, zooming all the way out to 20 mm and getting up in peoples’ screaming faces. A couple people give me offended glares, but most are too caught up in the moment to notice me. As I continue onward, I review the photos on the camera’s LCD. A few are wicked. I can see teeth and spittle and tongues and wild eyes while still having a view of the seething mass all around. I smile when I break through the crowd to the frontline.
A handful of brave souls are yelling in the faces of stoic riot police lined up on the lower steps leading to City Hall. A tall man with a bushy beard, reflective aviator sunglasses, and a red bandanna wrapped around his head shouts into a megaphone, leading the crowd in climate protest mantras. Off to the left are the drummers, frenetically thumping on their instruments. I start shooting and keep shooting until my SD cards are full.
DAN RICE pens the young adult urban fantasy series The Allison Lee Chronicles in the wee hours of the morning. The series kicks off with his award-winning debut, Dragons Walk Among Us, which Kirkus Reviews calls, “An inspirational and socially relevant fantasy.”
To discover more about Dan’s writing and keep tabs on his upcoming releases, join his newsletter: https://www.danscifi.com/newsletter.