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Posted on May 7, 2013

Ned Firebreak is a new fantasy novel with a different take on dragons and damsels in distress.

Here's the synopsis:

The Firebreaks are a family of dragonslayers. After dispatching the unruly lizards, this father/son team brings back the fair maidens to live on their magically protected princess reservation. At least that's what their brochure would have you believe.

When Ned wakes up from a coma, he finds key memories relating to his rescue missions and missing-in-action father erased by magic. With the help of three motivated princesses and one who's rather a hindrance, he sets out to uncover his missing memories and reveal the truth of the Firebreaks' dealings with the dragons of the Eight Kingdoms. Along the way, Ned picks up a tree sidekick, a wizard versed in the ludicrous art of pun magic, and a healthy respect for both princesses and dragons alike.

Can he make the world outside of the reservation safe for the princesses? Will he uncover the true threat to the maidens' well-being? Can he find his father before he must face off against the nefarious black dragon, Rackeesus, who dogs his trail every step of the way?

Find out Ned's fate in this rousing tale that blends fantasy with mystery and heaping helpings of wit.

A short Interview with Brian Clopper

What's so special about Ned Firebreak?

It's my first fantasy novel for adults. I'm no longer targeting just middle-grade readers. It also looks at dragons in a way that hasn't been done before. It delves into new motives as to why they run off with fair maidens.

The cast includes quite a few strong female characters. How did that come about?

Most of my books are geared for middle-grade boys and the lion's share of their casts are boys and monsters. It's not that I shied away from writing female characters, I just didn't seek them out. When I wrote Graham 2 recently, half the book was told from the point of view of Graham's younger sister, Flenn. I had a ball writing her and my confidence grew that I could take on more with my next book. Graham 2 also focused on a fetching harpy and a widowed gargoyle. After writing those characters along with Flenn, I felt ready to expand my reach as a writer.

So you tackled princesses?

Yes, pretty ambitious. Ned Firebreak has four strong supporting characters: Lil, Tekka, Kalabeth, and Stacia. Each presents complications for Ned, both magical and romantic. He's grown up around fetching maidens at the princess reservation, but has very little memories of interacting with the current crop of maidens at the reservation. And there's his Aunt Nance, the woman who keeps everything running. She's another fine addition to the cast.

What can you share about these characters?

Lil is strong. She has a history with Ned. With many of Ned's memories missing, he senses there's chemistry between them, but doesn't have a clue what they've been through together. Their adventure together is one of discovery as he finds out exactly what she means to him.

And Stacia doesn't play nice with any of the other princesses, does she?

No. she's a true ice princess. Besides her very touch delivering frostbite without her protective gloves and lip balm, she has persuasive magic that makes any man around her do her bidding as long as they aren't from her kingdom of Skallarg. She has designs on Ned and wants Lil out of the picture.

And Tekka and Kalabeth are a package deal, right?

They're sisters who have to stay close to each other because of a curse. Tekka's the warrior princess, outwardly hardened and brash. Kalabeth is more aligned with communing with nature, but has no problem wielding a weapon when the time calls for it.

Why a princess reservation?

They are brought there to keep them safe. If they step off the reservation, they put themselves in jeopardy.

From their dragon abductors?

Yes and no. You'll have to read the book to see. The mystery behind Ned's stolen memories, his missing father and why the princesses are truly on the reservation all link together to form a clever mystery Ned has to unearth.

Are there magical creatures besides dragons?

And how. You do meet several dragons, but there are also talking ambulatory trees, quill tigers, and fairies. Lil happens to be a fairy.

Wait, Ned's human and Lil's a fairy. How does that work out? Isn't she tiny?

Again, another detail that you will more fully understand when you read the story.

I understand the tree is a real winning character.

He is. His lines are so much fun to write. He's got a real wry edge to him. He's also a tad conflicted as to his role in life. Readers will find themselves rooting for him to succeed. Yes, plant humor. I went there.

What do you hope readers find when they dive into Ned's world?

There's a rewarding complexity to the story's structure. The characters are fully realized and the banter is just a joy to read. I want readers to experience a rollicking adventure that has real substance and consequence. I want them to look at princes and princesses in a new light. And I want to elevate dragons to more than just cave-dwelling bottom feeders who dash away with lovely ladies for no apparent reason. Trust me, they have their reasons.

Be sure to visit it at goodreads and share your thoughts or simply mark it as-to-read: Ned Firebreak on Goodreads


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