Title: The Year of Lightning
Author: Ryan Dalton
Synopsis: When 15-year-old twins Malcolm and Valentine Gilbert moved to a new town, they never imagined that the old house across the street could bring them so much trouble. A secret machine has reawakened inside, with the power to pierce time itself.
Meanwhile, lightning storms are breaking out all over town. They’re getting worse every week, and seem to enjoy striking kids who just want to pass science class and mind their own business. When Malcolm and Valentine discover a connection between the house and the storms, their situation goes from mysterious to crazy stupid dangerous. Someone is controlling the great machine, and their purpose is nearly complete.
In a race against time, the twins must uncover the chilling plan, the mastermind behind it, and the force that’s driving the deadly storms. They’ll hunt a powerful enemy that threatens their town’s existence, and the only clues are written in the sky.
Author Interview with Ryan Dalton:
Where did you come up with the idea for The Year of Lightning? Did a real life person or place inspire the story?
I don’t often base stories on real people or places. My imagination runs too wild, I guess :-p This story started when a picture popped into my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I saw an old, abandoned house with no doors, only windows. No way in or out. Then I envisioned walking by that creepy old house and seeing a face in the window, staring right at me. I kept asking questions about that person, how they got in there, what they were doing, and as I answered those questions the story for The Year of Lightning was born. It’s been described as “Monster House meets Back to the Future.”
Do you have a favorite scene in The Year of Lightning?
I always have a tough time choosing, but ultimately I’m a fan of the underdog and seeing them come out on top. There’s a scene later in the book where two unlikely side characters gain an unexpected victory. That was probably my favorite scene to write because it was so much fun and so unexpected for those characters.. Second favorite would be a scene at about the midpoint of the book, where two characters have a very open and honest moment with each other. Just a quiet scene, but it has lots of heart.
Did you always know that you wanted to write? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
When I look back, there was never a question in my mind that I would do this someday. I remember saying at seven or eight years old that I was going to write books. I loved to read so much that It always felt natural and inevitable–I wanted to write and knew it would happen. Of course, when eight-year-old me announced that intention to adults, they had a good laugh. I remember being confused and wondering why they thought it was funny. Even at that age, I was serious about it. It took some years to make it to publication, but the road has definitely been worth it, and so far it’s been as awesome as I’d hoped.
What was your favorite required reading that you had to do in school?
For high school English, I got to read The Once and Future King. Ever since I was a kid, King Arthur and Camelot legends have fascinated me, so I ate up every page of that book. It’s a unique blend of adventure and magic and quirky characters that heavily influenced my love of fantasy in later years.
Do you have any guilty pleasure reads?
I love Star Wars novels. Like any red-blooded human, I’m a fan of pretty much all things Star Wars, and you can feel the writers’ love for the universe leaping off the page. They contribute to a richer shared story, allow you to follow favorite characters on new adventures, and meet different and interesting characters that will probably never appear in the movies. My all-time favorite is called I, Jedi by Michael Stackpole. It follows a Jedi with a very unique set of abilities and a more rogue-ish outlook on using the Force. I harbor secret aspirations of one day writing a Star Wars novel.
If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose?
My first reaction was to say the world of King Arthur and Merlin and Excalibur, as a knight of the round table. Star Wars was a close second. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a Jedi and travel the galaxy?
What would I find if I visited the space where you do your writing? Are you someone who functions better in order or in chaos?
I don’t like writing anywhere that’s cluttered or cramped. It’s distracting and it constricts my brain, so if I’m writing at home, I make sure the desk is clear of anything unnecessary. Usually, though, I don’t write at home. I thrive on the energy of being out where things are happening, and home is so familiar that it’s sometimes counterproductive to being creative. I do a lot of writing in coffee shops, where I can enjoy the energy of having people around. Ironically, I also wear noise-canceling headphones so I can’t hear anyone, but just having people being active and productive in the vicinity is nice.
What are some of your hobbies (besides reading and writing)?
I’m an uber-geek, so I love movies and comic books and I’m always looking for new music. I’m also a musician (singer). I come from an Italian family, so of course I love cooking and trying great food. Travel is a big deal to me–my goal is to make it to all seven continents within the next few years. So far I’ve been to four, and I have three left to go!
What was the last book you read?
Right now, I’m about halfway through my friend Austin Aslan’s book, The Girl at the Center of the World. It’s a sequel to his debut sci-fi novel, The Islands at the End of the World. Austin’s a great writer, and has a completely different approach to the sci-fi genre than I do, so it’s great fun to read his work.
Are you currently working on any new books?
The Year of Lightning is the first book of the Time Shift Trilogy, so I’m hard at work on the sequels. I recently finished the second draft of Book 2, and Book 3 is currently in the outlining stage. So, I’ve got my hands full, and they’re going to stay full for quite some time!
Thank you so much for joining me, Ryan!
About the Author:
Ryan Dalton is author of the young adult Time Shift Trilogy. His debut novel THE YEAR OF LIGHTNING will be released on December 8, 2015. Ryan splits his time between writing books during the day, fighting crime at night, and hanging out in his awesome underground lair. Please do not tell anyone he’s Batman. It’s a secret.
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