Monday, October 5, 2015

Stalked by Flames and Meet Susan Illene!

Stalked by Flames Banner 851 x 315
Stalked by Flames
Dragon’s Breath Series
Book One
Susan Illene

Genre:  Urban Fantasy/New Adult

Date of Publication: ebook- July 27th, 2015
Date of Publication: audio- September 24th, 2015

ISBN:  978-0-9863361-0-2

Number of pages:  484
Word Count: 101,000

Cover Artist:  Jeff Brown Graphics
and Claudia at Phatpuppy Art

Book Description:

Bailey Monzac has just graduated college and is leaving town for her parents’ ranch in Texas when a massive earthquake unleashes the unthinkable on the world: fire-breathing dragons.

Chaos erupts as people flee for their lives, and Bailey survives only because she is somehow immune to the dragons’ flames. In the midst of the mayhem, Bailey is helped by a shape-shifting dragon named Aidan, who recognizes Bailey is a dragon slayer and will be an essential ally in the power struggle between—and within—the dragon clans.

Natural disasters intensify and dragons lay waste to the world as civilization all but collapses amid the loss of electricity and running water. Roving gangs prowl the debris-filled streets, and Bailey and her friends manage to find refuge in the university library. As her relationship with Aidan deepens during private training sessions, Bailey must learn to harness her newfound skills or see everything she knows and loves destroyed.

Stalked by Flames is a gritty urban fantasy about a woman’s journey into a dark new reality she never could have imagined.

Book Trailer:

Available at Amazon
The dragon stomped toward me on all four legs, steam puffing from his nostrils. His nose was as big as both my fists put together. I grabbed a brick off the ground and clutched it in my hand. Maybe I should have tried to run—a normal person would have—but being attacked by dragons had spiked my adrenaline.
Whenever that happened, it was as if another side of me took over. I became someone who fought and stood her ground. More than once my stepfather had marveled at my ability to compartmentalize fear and think clearly when in danger. My mother hated it. She feared it would get me hurt or killed someday.
I grew up on a ranch outside of Dallas where we had a lot of land. When I was ten years old, I’d decided to go out fishing by myself. Along the path to a nearby pond, I stumbled across a rattlesnake. Most people would have run screaming, especially a girl my age. I chucked a heavy tackle box at the thing. That didn’t kill it, of course, but it immobilized the snake’s body long enough for me to beat it to death with my fishing pole.
That’s how my stepfather had found me. Hovering over a mangled snake and pondering whether to get my tackle box back. It had blood and guts all over it. Killing a poisonous snake was one thing, touching icky stuff was another.
Now I had an honest-to-God dragon coming at me and once again I refused to panic. I needed to weigh my options. With my back against a wall, there was nowhere to go before he’d reach me, but there had to be a way out of this mess. Did the dragon have a weakness I could exploit? Something to buy me time until I could get to a safe place?
I glanced at my brick—it was all I had. A heat-seeking missile would have been preferable, but no one had told me we were about to get invaded by mythical beasts, so I didn’t have one on hand. I looked up at the sky and wished a bolt of lightning would strike my opponent. The storm wasn’t close enough to make that a possibility yet. Not that I’d get that lucky.
The red-scaled dragon lumbered closer, less than ten feet away. His gaze still didn’t show any signs of wildness or rage in it. The tilting of his head made me think he was curious more than anything. It’s what stayed my hand as he lowered his head to sniff at my legs. The heat emanating from his breath warmed the skin on my calves.
I stared down and noted once again that my jeans had been burned off to my upper thighs. The sandals I’d been wearing earlier were missing, too. How had I lost half my clothes? There weren’t any signs of burns, only scratches and bruises.
The dragon inspected all of this as his head inched upward. His hot nose tickled the skin of my thighs and he let out a puff of steam near my crotch. Okay, that was just a little too uncomfortable. I smacked his nose.
“Back off!”
He shook his head and let out a snort, then reared onto his hind legs. Flames licked up his body, consuming him. Standing only three feet away, there was no escape from the heat. I scrambled along the wall sideways, putting as much distance between us as I could. What had just happened? Did smacking dragons in the nose trigger some weird reaction?
The flames narrowed and became brighter. Then a dark shape emerged within them that had me tripping over my own feet to get away. It looked demonic—like something straight out of Hell. There was standing my ground and then there was being stupid.
I spun on my heels and took off down the sidewalk that lay between the library and the building next to it. A growl echoed down the corridor—a really angry one. I passed by bushes and benches that provided no cover from a menacing dragon and kept going. There were plenty of paths to take up ahead if I could just get past the library. The damned building seemed to extend forever.
Through the racing of my heart, I caught heavy footsteps behind me. They didn’t clomp the same way as the dragon’s and sounded more like boots on pavement. Glancing back, I saw a man with feral yellow eyes wearing strange clothing. The red dragon was nowhere to be seen. Shivers raced down my spine as I realized this guy’s attention was focused solely on me and he was racing toward me fast. Where had he come from?

My Review
I love dragons, so I of course wanted to read this one. And it starts off with a kick. The leading lady is leaving college to go back home after graduation. She stops to tell her BFF bye when crazy starts falling from the sky, well it's dragons but still. LOL And it becomes a do or die, as well as how are we going to get through this, survive, and be ok. It's an interesting concept to put dragons in a dystopian setting and I liked it. :) 

Bailey is pretty normal. She went to college in Oklahoma and she's graduated, so she's going to drive home to Texas. Before she can get far, dragons unload from the sky. It's pretty nuts for a little bit. And there's different colors. The green ones are huge and burning people and buildings to a crisp. Then there's red ones, seem smaller, and... nicer... until one transforms in front of her, saves her, then talks to her. LOL She is pretty mind blown but trying to deal. She wants to find a way to not only get home, if it's still there after all this, but protect her friends too. Dragons were banished from Earth and the barrier blocking them has fallen. And in the process, Bailey learns she can't be burned by the dragon's fire. Something weird is going on with that. And the green ones don't want to be nice, they want to wipe out everything human, in revenge. And there's not much that can stop them. And the barrier is causing all kinds of crazy things with the weather as it falls more. This is where the dystopian part comes in. Bailey and her best friend have set up a group effort at the library to hold down the fort, kinda.

We meet Adrian, who I was hoping would get romantic with Bailey. No, it's more about training her, and helping get the green dragon problem under control. Trish and Justin are Bailey's best friend. I loved Conrad, a lot, and I liked Earl too. And we get to see the dragon side from Aiden which I liked alot. Dragons have a whole different world and set of rules and cultures. It was so interesting to see, and there were some twists and turns and some very interesting characters as well. The writing is well done, and though there are a few things that maybe bothered me a little, it wasn't enough for me to be specific on. I will also pick up book two, because I really enjoyed the take on dragons here. I look forward to book two, and hopefully, we'll get to see more of the dragons in this one. :) 4.5 PAWS!
Author Interview
First, tell me a little about your book ….
There are two sides to the story.  On the one hand, you have a young woman (Bailey) who has lived a normal life until dragons invade Earth at the beginning of the book.  She soon finds out she comes from a line of slayers born to kill dragons.  She has to go through a journey of discovering herself and whether she wants to take on that role seriously while trying to survive an apocalypse at the same time.
On the other hand, you have a shape-shifter dragon (Aidan) who is the youngest son of his clan’s ruling family.  He arrives during the initial invasion.  His two older brothers have been vying for the position to take over after their father (the pendragon) dies, but neither of them would be truly good leaders.  Aidan is in a dangerous position because he could be chosen instead of his siblings and has to constantly watch his back as his brothers grow suspicious of his motives.  In the first book, he’s more focused on survival, but he also has to decide if he should step up to be the leader.
For both Bailey and Aidan, they also face the threat of pure dragons who are roaming the area in large numbers destroying and killing everything they see.  Despite the two being apparent enemies, they’ll have to work together if they want to survive.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?
I’ve always had stories running around in my head and occasionally wrote them down, but I didn’t try writing novels until about five years ago.  That was like opening myself up to a world I hadn’t realized I’d been missing.

What inspired you to write your first book and what was it?
My first book was a contemporary fantasy romance.  The biting bug hit me hard for that one and I wrote the whole thing in a few weeks.  For months after that I fiddled with it some more, but ultimately decided that book was just for myself.  It has all kinds of beginner mistakes and would have needed a major overhaul to become publishable.  I moved on and started a couple more books before finally writing the one I felt was strong enough to put out for the world to see.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? A little bit of both, plus a whole lot of imagination!

How do you choose when/which characters die in your books?
It has to be natural to the story progression.  Except for some of the bad guys, I really care about each of my characters so I don’t take killing them off lightly.  It has to be for the right reasons.  There has to be some purpose behind it that feeds later events (though readers might not see that until the following books).
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book? I don’t think I’ve ever known a writer that didn’t think some of the earlier books couldn’t have been improved.  With every novel you write, your craft gets better.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?I always find getting through the revisions tougher than writing the first draft. 

Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?
The background with the dragon was a custom job by graphics designer Jeff Brown.  He created every detail from scratch based on the description I gave him of what I wanted.  After that I hired photographer Teresa Yeh to take the model shots I needed with the woman holding the sword (model Isabella Capri).  We had to make sure Isabella angled herself so that when she was inserted into the background it would appear she was facing the dragon.  She did a great job of pulling off the look of my main character.  Claudia at Phat Puppy Art took care of the last step with getting the model onto the background and blending her into the fire.
I should also give credit to a small group of fans who help me out with putting together the concepts for all my book covers.  They assisted me in finding the right wardrobe and props to use for the photo shoot and selecting the best shot to use.  I don’t know what I’d do without them.

If you could be one of your characters, who would you chose?
While I love my characters, I put them through too much hell to actually want to be them!  I do wish I had some of their nifty abilities, though.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy reading my books and I hope to give you many more in the future!

About the Author:

Susan Illene served in the US Army for eleven years and worked as a human resources specialist and an Arabic linguist. She served two deployments to Iraq, and after leaving the army, she studied history at the University of Oklahoma. She and her husband currently live in Oklahoma with two high-maintenance cats doing their best to help her write her books.

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