James Riley is the New York Times bestselling author of the Half Upon a Time series, the Story Thieves series, and The Revenge of Magic series. He was born in Connecticut and currently lives in Northern Virginia. Check out James’s website at JamesRileyAuthor.com and be sure to say hi on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
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Photo © Maarten de Boer
Introduce James Riley to your readers with this special Q&A that focuses on The Revenge of Magic series.
Q: You’ve moved from the Story Thieves series, where characters travel between fictional and nonfictional worlds, to The Revenge of Magic series where only children can unlock books of magic. What do you enjoy most about building fantasy worlds? What elements do you like to focus on when creating the first book of a series?
A: Oh, my absolute favorite thing about building fantasy worlds is thinking about what everyday life might be like in one. Not only does that appeal because I would love to live in a world with magic, but also I feel like it’s a great place to start, seeing what a day might be like for someone in one of these worlds, and then build from there. So this might sound strange, but in all my first books, I like to start with a grounding in reality, so readers can find familiar things to center themselves before the rug gets pulled out, and we jump into the magical system (always my favorite part of fantasy worlds). That, and tweaking common fantasy tropes to hopefully surprise readers!
Q: Describe your protagonist, Fort Fitzgerald. What’s at stake for him? How does he feel about magic?
A: Fort is the opposite of a “chosen one” hero. He’s not naturally talented at magic, as the rest of the school is in The Revenge of Magic, and all he’s concerned with is learning spells to be able to fight the monsters that took his father from him in the beginning of the book. But it seems as if the entire school is against him, and he’s being set up to fail too, so he’s confused and unsure about everything at the school. Right now, magic to Fort is a means to an end, because of what he’s been through with losing his father. If his father was still around, he’d have ordinarily been amazed and delighted by learning spells, so there’s some of that still buried deep within himself…and we might see it emerge as he learns to deal with his grief!
Q: Both The Revenge of Magic and the second book in the series, The Last Dragon, will be available this year, so eager readers won’t have long to wait between installments! Will we meet new characters in The Last Dragon? Travel to any new settings?
A: We will meet all kinds of new characters in The Last Dragon, actually! Without spoiling things, there’s a new student at school who’s also not talented at magic like Fort, so these two have a lot in common…more than they even know. We also start to meet more creatures from typical fantasy worlds, like the dragon from the title, and travel to a whole other…wait, no spoilers!
Q: What is your favorite part about writing for a middle grade audience?
A: Middle grade readers seem to love adventure and magic as much as I do, so it’s a great match. And they’re at the perfect age where they begin to look more at the outside world and find their place within it, a journey that never really ends. So it’s a perfect group to write big fantasy stories for, as our heroes are typically going through the exact same thing!
Spotlight on The Revenge of Magic
Thirteen years ago, books of magic were discovered in various sites around the world alongside the bones of dragons. Only those born after “Discovery Day” have the power to use the magic.
Now, on a vacation to Washington, DC, Fort Fitzgerald’s father is lost when a giant creature bursts through the earth, attacking the city. Fort is devastated, until an opportunity for justice arrives six months later, when a man named Dr. Opps invites Fort to a government run school, the Oppenheimer School, to learn magic from those same books.
But life’s no easier at the school, where secrets abound. What does Jia, Fort’s tutor, know about the attacks? Why does Rachel, master of destructive magic, think Fort is out to destroy the school? And why is Fort seeing memories of an expelled girl every time he goes to sleep? If Fort doesn’t find out what’s hiding within the Oppenheimer School, more attacks will come, and this time, nothing will stop them!
Enter to win two copies of The Revenge of Magic for you and a friend!
Engage your readers with these curriculum guides for the first book in The Revenge of Magic series and for all five books in the Story Thieves series.
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Upcoming from James Riley
The Last Dragon — Book #2 of The Revenge of Magic series!
Fort Fitzgerald is determined to uncover the truth, but a new student at school and the secrets he has to keep complicate matters in this second novel in a thrilling new series from the author of the New York Times bestselling Story Thieves!