Candace Knoebel is the award-winning author of Born in Flames-a young adult fantasy trilogy. Published by 48fourteen in 2012, Born in Flames went on to win Turning the Pages Book of the Year award in February of 2013.
The Stone of Immortality has always been kept under the watch of the Draconta. That is, until the betrayal of a Fate. Now everything is about to change.
Aurora Megalos accepted her destiny without blinking-even if it meant succumbing to her dragon side. Deemed the Progeny, she left the ordinary life she knew and has done everything in her power to learn the ways of her new realm and what it means to be part dragon. But when her mentor, Astral, suddenly disappears, she is forced to take the reins.
With war on the brink, she sets out on an epic journey to not only find her mentor, but to stop her Arch Enemy, Zordon, from obtaining the Stone of Immortality. But what she discovers about him along the way is far worse than she could’ve ever imagined. She will be tested and pushed to the limit. Lives will be lost, love will be questioned, and a battle will begin.
Candace Knoebel dreamed of being a dancer ever since she could remember. With a love of all things art, she saw herself moving to New York and pursuing her passion as an artist. But all that changed on October 10th, 2002 when she met the love of her life. Her dreams diverged and after marrying her high school sweetheart and having two beautiful children, she realized she missed her creative side. Through lunch breaks and late nights after putting her kids to bed, she built a world where she could escape the ever-pressing days of an eight to five Purgatory. Since then, she crawled out of Purgatory and has devoted her time to writing and sometimes heelying.
From Chapter 2
We took the local bus to and from everywhere in town. It was the perfect means of transportation for us. A car would have been nice, but we were fostered, working on minimum wage and living in a small town. We couldn’t really hold our expectations too high. The town was small enough that the commute only lasted between twenty and thirty minutes.
We reached the bus stop underneath the clear morning sky and I slumped into the far end of the bench, trying to ignore the fidgety man waiting next to me. He clutched an old faded denim backpack to his chest in a death grip.
I pulled my tattered baseball cap out of my purse and pushed my hair inside it. I liked to keep my hair tucked away when I was in the general public since it was ruby red and stood out against my pale skin. It helped lessen the curious stares.
I noticed the man next to me, side-eyeing me through my peripheral vision. He had blotchy skin, and smelled of rubbing alcohol. A tuft of milky-white hair sat atop his head and swayed in the breeze. I wondered if the breeze picked up, would the feathery tuft float away like the seeds of a dandelion?
Fenn looked back at the two of us. He shook his head, suppressing a chuckle as he watched the fidgety man squirm next to me. Strange things always seemed to occur around me. This creep was proof of that.
The guy cleared his throat and straightened his back, tightening his grip on the pack, knuckles paling from skin stretched thin. There must be something important inside there.
Fenn casually backed up a couple of steps to be closer to me, whistling and keeping his hands in his pocket, ever the silent protector. It was a job he had always done well. Living on this island, the locals found it hard to adjust to the trouble I unintentionally brought.
I’ve kind of been responsible for a few accidental fires (started by my thoughts though I never told anyone except Fenn). The fires have only started when I felt angry, but things have definitely exploded into flames around me—things like a bookshelf in a library that took a while to douse out.
Now the town simply looked at me as a freak of sorts, some religious people even crossing themselves because they believed I could actually hurt them.
So yeah, Fenn was always there to defend me. Just in case.
I glanced at my watch, thinking the bus should be here any minute and that I’d be glad to get away from this freak next to me. His constant squirming didn’t sit well with me.
Then I heard the awful screeching of the brakes as the bus came barreling into view a few seconds later. The front wheel plowed over the curb before it came to a thud on the street. The exhaust made a wheezy sound, probably fatigued from the driver’s mistreatment, and the hinges squealed as the old doors swung open, inviting us in.
I have told the driver many times that he should probably get the brakes changed, but he always just looked at me and laughed in an idiotic way. Sort of a mix between a cackling witch and a hyena. Visions of sticking my foot in his mouth always came to mind. If only I could set this bus on fire, but then I guess I’d be out of transportation.
“Hit any tourists today?” I asked casually as I stepped onto the bus. His usual smirk instantly pointed south. I kept moving, not giving him a chance to respond, as I pulled my hat down as low as it could go and took my seat near the back. The creepy guy from the bench took a seat directly across from me, continuing to side-eye me.
Fenn slid in next to me, and the doors swung shut. The driver pulled out, never checking traffic to ensure the road was clear. All I can say is that we haven’t been in an accident yet… and I stress the yet.
We rode in silence for a while as the powerful hum of the engine sang a poor man’s lullaby. I could still feel the creepy guy’s burning gaze on the side of my face. What is it with this guy, I thought. I was tempted to say something, but a large pothole stopped me.
Everything went flying, including Fenn’s coffee. Of course it decided to find a dry place to land on, like my shirt. Agitated chatter began as everyone reached for the items that had flown from their laps into the aisle.
“Dang it,” I groaned, trying to blot the lukewarm wetness off my white shirt now stained coffee brown. I’d have to change into a new shirt when I got to work. Another small dent in my paycheck.
“Sorry,” Fenn said, picking his music player up off the floor. “He’s such a douche. When you gonna learn to stop egging him on? You know he did that on purpose.” The bus driver’s demonic smile peered at me through the rear view mirror. I exhaled sharply, glaring back at him.
A sparkle caught the corner of my eye. In the aisle sat a pendant, right next to the creepy guy’s bookbag. He was rubbing his head, probably from smacking it against the window, not paying attention. I leaned over to grab it, arousing his awareness.
Our heads collided on the way down, but my hands were the quickest of the pair. As my fingers touched the pendant, an instantaneous flash of a clearing under an unusually large full moon ran through my mind along with a haunting pair of glow- ing blue eyes. Then a rush of power, tingling like electricity, spiked up my arm, throwing me backwards and into Fenn’s lap with a blast of light. The pendant was seared into my grip, the energy still coursing up my arm and throughout my body.
“Rory, are you okay?” Fenn asked immediately, his worried hands running all over me, checking for any sign of dam- age.
I looked up at him and said, “Fenn, I’m fi–,” but was cut off by the frightened look upon his face. “What?” I asked hesitantly.
“Your eyes, Rory…wait…is that blood?” he asked, panicked. His thumbs pulled at my lower lids as his eyes widened in horror.
“Wha-what?” I stammered, feeling my own panic rise as I pulled my phone out of my pocket and held it up to my face to see my reflection.
My irises were ruby red like my hair. They glistened as they caught the sun’s light. I moved to touch them but felt a foreign hand on my shoulder stop me.
“The pendant, girl, give me the pendant,” said the creepy man, loud enough for only me to hear.
A low growl built deep within, the pendant warming in my hand as if awakening something in me that had always been there.
“Why do YOU have this?” I gritted through clenched teeth. Something foreign stirred inside me, overtaking my reasoning. Something powerful that longed to break free.
He yanked the pendant from my hand and then placed his hand and face mere inches from my own, a white glow radiating from his palm.
“Silly girl, the bus is no place for your change,” he said in a whisper as the blinding glow encompassed my face. I felt the heat kiss my eyes and then it all disappeared.
“Stop it,” Fenn commanded, pulling me into him as he shoved the creepy guy off. I shook my head, dizzy from the cloudiness that instantly fogged my brain. Fenn squeezed my shoulder.
“Your eyes…they’re, they’re normal, but how?” Fenn’s concerned face made me turn towards the man who was still staring directly at me, etching this weird moment deep inside my brain. “What did he just do?” whispered Fenn.
My cheeks ran red as I held my gaze with the creep, ignoring the onlookers and their curious stares, and asked, “What did you mean by ‘change’?”
The answer never came. He continued to stare a minute more until the screeching brakes told us we had made it to the next stop. Still staring at me, he grabbed his bag and shoved the pendant inside it, once again clutching it to his chest. He headed off the bus, the white glow on his hand touching each of the passengers as he walked by. Their heads slumped over as the white glow enshrouded them, and then they each shook their heads, dazed, as if trying to remember where they were.
“Did that really just happen?” Fenn asked, muddled.
I blinked, my mind going blank. I wish I could have answered him, but I had no idea what had just happened. My head was still foggy and aching.
“Maybe it was just another strange occurrence?” I suggested, skeptical. I faced him with a forced smile.
“What’d he whisper to you?” His hands were still bracing my shoulders.
“Something about a change…I don’t know…it was hard to make out because he was talking so low. Weird, right?”
“Weird is definitely right.” His eyebrows knit together, forming a perfect V. “I should follow him and demand an answer.” Anger flashed in his eyes. I felt him move like he was about to follow through with that plan so I placed my hand on his chest.
“No, it won’t do any good now. He’ll be long gone. Let’s just forget it, okay? Pretend it never happened and focus on finding my parents.” I searched his eyes, waiting for his usual give.
He sighed heavily. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m just glad you’re okay,” he replied, putting his earphones back in and then after a brief smile, turning back to the window.
We still had three more stops to go. Three more chances for me to get a grip on myself before I had to face a restaurant full of curious faces. I sighed and leaned back, putting in my own earphones. I closed my eyes and tried to let what just happened slip away. No use trying to decipher it, I would get nowhere like always. I just knew that finding my birth parents would resolve so many questions. Unfortunately, the beginning of that search was still paychecks away from happening.
Guest Post – What Inspired the Trilogy
Our topic for today is one of my favorites…inspiration. As most know, inspiration is what fuels an artist to create. An idea has to spark from somewhere be it something you saw while jogging, something someone said, or a dream that wakes you in the middle of the night.
We need it in order to envision the worlds we think up and the characters we breathe life into. For me, I’ve always loved anything mythical and magical. When I first thought up the idea for the Born in Flames Trilogy, it came from a need to fill a void. Boredom.
I already had a strong love for dragons and magic, so I tried to think of an innovative way to incorporate those things into a new age story. Something young adult and urban. I actually thought of it while picking up my son’s toys after he went to bed. It just struck me out of nowhere and I blindly walked over to the computer and started writing.
In my mind, while plotting, the only way of modernizing a dragon was giving it the option of shape shifting and putting it in the middle of our modern day world as a young adult.
I can’t really explain how Aurora, the protagonist, came to be. She just did. Maybe she came from my need to be something more. Or the longing to jump inside the many books I’ve read and loved while growing up. I think that’s what ultimately sat me down and pushed my fingers to type.
She was a real girl in my mind, one with flaws and all. Someone like me who has real issues and real hopes. She doesn’t just give in to the first guy she sees and she doesn’t jump into any situation without a care in the world.
As I talked out my idea with my best friend, the plot grew larger and more complex, thusly turning it from one book into three. I had the broad idea of where it would start and where it would all end. One idea just sparked into another like a wildfire.
I’m so grateful for these characters. Without them, I would never have known where my true passion was. I wouldn’t have even tried.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a stay-at-home mom to two little ones, both under the age of six. They make the world go round. J I love music, art, dancing, laughing, good food, scary movies, midnight premiers, lace, Pinterest, Tobuscus, 30 Seconds to Mars…typical normal stuff I suppose. Oh, and I own a pair of Heely’s that I love to roll around in and have a fetish with dying my hair. That’s me in a nutshell.
When did you begin writing?
I started writing in 2009.
Have you ever been discouraged in regard to your writing ability and if so, how did you get past it and move forward?
Of course I have. I think just about every writer does at some point. Maybe even on every project. It’s a part of being a writing and learning your craft. As far as getting past it, it starts with realizing there will always be room for improvement. Keep pushing forward and don’t let another’s opinion discourage you, but help you be better. Also, you must realize that what you write will not please everyone. If so, this world would be a boring place.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The ability to let go of everything around me and become someone else in a faraway place. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and who I am, but there is nothing like losing yourself in a world. It’s almost as if you are the reader sitting back watching the characters as they evolve.
What is your writing style? Do you like to outline or just write as you go?
I am 50/50 pantser and plotter. I start out with a broad idea of the plot. I need to know a basic idea of where it will go, but mostly who my characters are. Once I learn them, I let them do as they please while trying to keep them on a basic path. Now does this work every time…no lol. My characters have a way of telling me how the story should go.
Do you have a favorite spot where you like to write?
In my living room at my computer desk. I used to write on my laptop on the couch, but laying down all the time got on my nerves.
What is something you’ve written that will never see the light of day?
My poetry. I write a lot of poetry to vent out my frustrations. I’ve always found poetry helps me sort through my problems. I keep them in my journals. I think I have more poetry entries than journal entries lol. But I do write in my journal almost daily and hide them in plain sight lol.
What is your writer food?
Triscuits, cheddar cheese, and ham. A grown-up lunchable lol.
What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?
I think getting over the fear of what others think. It’s really the only thing that has ever stalled me in a project. I mean, of course there’s the occasional writer’s block, but really, for me that stems from worry.
What inspires you to write?
Just about everything. Lyrics in a song, the note of a song, art, a good movie, a dream…inspiration comes from everything if you open yourself up to it.
How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
Four novels so far and I’d have to say my favorite is…shoot…this is hard lol. Umm…I guess my latest novel Starfall which I’m still working on. I say this only because of what I have learned from writing the other three and the fact that it’s a new project so there is the freshness in the relationship for me. I’ve been working on the trilogy for five years now.
What are some of your favorite books?
The Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games, Twilight, Black Dagger Brotherhood series, The Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre, The Catcher in the Rye…ect.
What authors do you like to read?
All of the above lol. If they ever publish, I will buy.
What inspired you to write Born in Flames?
A need to fill a personal void. I was bored and couldn’t find anything good to read so I decided to write what I wanted to read which was an idea that had popped into my head one night while cleaning up after my son. It was all by chance and great luck because I honestly had never thought of writing as a career before that. I actually was going for a management position at my job at the time.
If you could choose a dream cast for Born in Flames, who would you pick?
I would have to go with Logan Lermen for Fenn and if she would act, Hayley Williams for Aurora.
Would you say you relate to any of your characters? If so, which one and why?
I would say I relate to every single one of them. Each character I write stems from something inside of me, be it something I’ve seen or something I’ve felt. The one I relate to the most would be Aurora, the main character of Born in Flames. She was the beginning of this journey for me.
Naughty or nice? – An equal mix of both.
Vanilla or chocolate? – Vanilla
If you were deserted on an island, which author would you want to be stranded with?
J.K. Rowling lol. For sure.
1st Book in the Series
Red mirrored scales race up my arms as the haze of pain blurs my vision. My bones crack, breaking to realign. I scream. It is then that the realization of my unavoidable fate sinks in; I am of a dying race. I am dragon.
Aurora Megalos, orphaned and teetering on the edge of adulthood, thought finding her past would curb the sting of being an outcast. Having no memories of the time before she awoke on her foster mother’s doorstep, she yearns for the emptiness inside her to be filled. With her fellow orphaned best friend, Fenn, by her side, she has nothing to lose and everything to gain. But something powerful stirred within her that she couldn’t explain. Something wanted out.
In the dark of night, a crazed Seer, dubbed Mr.Creepy, erases everything she’s ever known with an impending prophecy. She now faces two paths. Return to her true home to protect a dying race against a growing evil, or stay hidden in the safety of our realm with a shot at a true love. With a vengeful Arch Enemy stopping at nothing to see her dead, she’s running out of time; a decision must be made. What would you choose?