Spotlight & Author Interview: Heart of Fire + Character Introductions



Heart of Fire

Dragon-mage, #1

by Raina Nightingale

Genre: Epic High Fantasy

Release Date: April 16th, 2023


Camilla has always been told that humans are inferior. They cannot use magic. If they bond to dragons, they will doom the creatures to extinction. She has never believed a word of it. She has always known that she can use magic, and she suspects it is the elves who harm the dragons by keeping them to themselves. Now, she is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: a dragon’s clutch is hatching and while she will earn the wrath of her captors if she is caught, she has the chance to see a dragon hatch and perhaps even to Recognize.

Kario’s people have feared dragons since time immemorial. When an unrealistically huge black dragon flies in while she is hunting, she is certain she will die. Instead, her life is changed when Nelexi, Obsidian Guardian of Areaer, chooses her as her final rider. Kario takes the name Flameheart, but she is soon homesick and afraid that she is insufficient to be the partner of a god.

Goodreads | Amazon | Books2Read

Author Interview:

How did Heart of Fire first come to be? What did it start with?

It was the image of a dragon-rider bond like no other that first inspired Heart of Fire. I was eight or nine years old, had recently learned to read, and I had not yet read any dragon-rider books, but I’d heard of the idea, and I always loved dragons, so I just saw Camilla and Radiance, and I knew their bond was special, that they were close in a way no one else was, and that was why Camilla could telepathically speak to other humans, too (in my world, dragons are telepaths, but can generally only speak to each other and their riders).

Camilla and Radiance’s names were there right from the beginning, too. Though Camilla is pronounced so that the last two syllables rhyme with Vanilla! But it doesn’t matter very much if you don’t pronounce it that way, I don’t care. It matters to me because of my synesthesia, but I really don’t care if readers pronounce her name however it sounds or looks to them.

What surprised you the most in writing Heart of Fire?

It is hard to say for certain, because I have re-written it so many times! And I am finding the latter books in the series to be quite surprising. But I guess probably the most surprising moment in Heart of Fire was when Camilla started thinking about what destiny and freedom mean. I did not intend to write about that, and I don’t even find the kind of debates some people have about destiny and fate and free will to be very interesting most of the time. Fire, they don’t even make sense. Well, then, I’m writing Camilla, and off her mind runs in that direction and it becomes rather a big deal to her, because she is very upset about the possibility that there might be destiny – or even that someone might think there is destiny and that she has a destiny, instead of just being who she is for her own reasons!

What does the title mean?

Originally, the book was called DragonMagic (this is when I was eight or nine) because I always knew that Camilla’s bond to Radiance gave her a unique magic. But then I changed that to Dragon-Mage and made it into the series title, and it has a double meaning because there’s also a newly-created race of dragon shifters who are all mages. They aren’t called dragon shifters in the book, though. They end up being called dragonmages for a little while, and then someone comes up with the idea of calling them ‘were-dragons’ but that’s kind of irrelevant to the title.

But the title of Book One, Heart of Fire could also have been the title for the whole series. It has many layers of meaning. One layer of meaning is that my secondary main character takes the name Flameheart, but even that has layers of meaning in it and reasons. But it’s also called Heart of Fire because, through her bond with Radiance, Camilla has a very deep connection to the Heart of Fire, the sacred flame in the core of Areaer, and that is what makes her magic so unique and powerful. And Nelexi, the Obsidian Guardian, carries a spark of the Heart of Fire inside her. It is a major theme throughout the whole series.

Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

No. As in, none of the characters are inspired by real people. I don’t do that! I don’t know real people well enough to use them as character inspiration! But I hope my characters feel like real people – they certainly do to me, sometimes running off in unexpected directions, that then when I can look back on it later, make perfect sense.

Do you consider Heart of Fire to have a lesson or moral?

Well, it is about love and anger and freedom, with a focus on non-romantic love, just to be clear! Camilla’s anger comes from her love – for her dragon, her brother, her Mom: but what about when her anger isn’t useful and actually hurts them? What does it really mean to love? What does it mean to be free, and how are freedom and love related? But I would say it is more that it shows the characters’ lives, like real people whose lives and choices are intertwined with these themes, than that it is a story with a moral!

But if you want a quote that sounds like moralistic or like it’s a lesson, here is one.

“It may not be unjust, Camilla, but it is not justice. And all that is not justice will degenerate into injustice.”

But what does the speaker mean by justice? And, are they right? What do you think? See, even here I’m leaving you with a question or two!

What is your favorite part of the book?

Hah! I like the whole thing far too much to have a favourite part of it! That quote I just mentioned is one I really like though – and perhaps my favourite scene is the one depicted on the cover! Or maybe my favourite part is Camilla’s relationship to Radiance, how close they are, and the exploration of what closeness means! Or the Heart of Fire ….

Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Sylvara, probably. She is (as you may guess from reading the sample) quite unlikable. She’s been an enemy to Camilla all her life, snitching and telling on the other slaves in an attempt to curry favor with the elves, and she’s good at the pity play, at acting all sorry and pitiable, when she doesn’t mean it at all. But then she bonds to a dragon, too, and that empathic, transforming bond must have effects on who she is. She’s a person, with reasons of her own (even if they will never make any sense to Camilla) for the things she did and the things she feels, and she has her own desire for freedom (even if Camilla will never believe it). So that was an interesting and complex balance to write, and in the end I decided to give her a small bit of perspective, to give readers a glimpse into the complexity that is her life. In a lot of ways she is Camilla’s exact opposite, because whereas Camilla is straightforward and forthright in her beliefs and desires, even if she can get confused and have conflicting and complex responses to this, Sylvara’s beliefs and wants are confusing and tangled, even inside of her. It’s really hard to know what the real Sylvara is.

What are your immediate future plans?

Write the rest of the series and publish book two – Scars of Fire – probably in the Fall. We’ll have to see how things go since it’s a bit too far out for me to be really certain about anything, since I am very, very bad at planning! But Scars of Fire does not need a whole lot of work at this point, so I should be able to get it out there sometime this year! Currently, I’m wrapping up writing book three, and I’m pretty sure this series is going to be four books.

Introduction to the Characters:

Camilla is the primary perspective in Heart of Fire. Born and raised as a slave to the Wood Elves, loyalty and freedom are her primary values, and she believes everyone should have the power to defend their own freedom, without being at the mercy of everyone else, with spiritual and mental freedom being by far the most important. She is the rider of Radiance, a golden dragon with a personality and fire to match her own, and she is deeply committed to her brother’s safety.

Lavilor is Camilla’s younger brother. In contrast to her personality, he is quiet and shy, internalizing his experiences, instead of turning to anger. He is deeply devoted to his sister and wants her to be happy, and is the rider of young Sleet, a silver dragon as compassionate as he is.

Sylvara is Camilla’s hated enemy, more hated even than many of the Wood Elves, for currying their favor at her own expense, and those of others she knows. Unfortunately they are now stuck together, between Sylvara also desires freedom and chased Camilla when she fled, and neither can make their way through the dangerous territory before them alone.

Kario Flameheart comes from the Plains of Zharda, and a people protected from many of the atrocities that haunt the world by the Goddess of Storms and the Sun. Chosen by Nelexi, Obsidian Guardian of Areaer, she has had to leave her home, because her people cannot accept dragons. Nelexi really just wants her final rider to be her friend, but Flameheart struggles with the feeling that she is insignificant and merely a liability with no powers or helpful abilities in a war between ancient gods.

About the Author:

I (Raina Nightingale) have been writing fantasy since I could write stories with the words I could read (the same time that I started devouring books, too). Now I write “slice of life” and epic dawndark fantasy, for fiction lovers interested in rich world-building, characters who feel like real people, and spiritual experiences. I think giant balls floating in space can have the same magic that fairytales teach us to look for in oak trees and stars. I have a lot of universes and while not all of them have giant balls floating in space, most of them have dragons of one sort or another!



Spotlight & Interview: Quests Aside + Giveaway


I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the QUESTS ASIDE Vol. 1 by Brian Schirmer & Elena Gogou Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Title: QUESTS ASIDE Vol. 1

Authors: Brian Schirmer & Elena Gogou (Illustrator)

Pub. Date: March 21, 2023

Publisher: Vault Comics

Formats:  Paperback, eBook

Pages: 160

Find it: Goodreads, books2read

WELCOME to QUESTS ASIDE Known to all, both far and wide!

A skeleton, an apprentice mage, and an exiled princess walk into a bar… for another shift at Quests Aside, the local watering hole run by once legendary, now retired, adventurer Barrow.

When the King privately explains that he plans to shut the place down, Barrow must find a way to hold onto his business, the friendships, and the family he’s built around it.

It’s always sunny in the realms!

Collects the entire, best-selling 5-issue series!

For fans of Giant Days, Rolled & Told, Rat Queens, Nimona, and Adventure Zone


“…it’s like Cheers set in the world of Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 Lord of the Rings adaptation.” — Publishers Weekly

“Quests Aside … has a made-for-TV vibe.” — AIPT

“A fine mix of humor and drama.” — Major Spoilers

“Magic, situational comedy, and camaraderie blend into a whimsical fantasy…” — Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful looking, voiced with riotous confidence, Quests Aside boasts one of the best core concepts I’ve seen in recent high fantasy. I’m furious that I didn’t think of it.” — Si Spurrier (The RUSHHellblazerThe DreamingX-Men)

Mini Interviews:

List your favorite graphic novels from last year and why you like them.

2022 was a weird year for me and I, unfortunately, didn’t read many comics. Two of the few ones I did read that I want to mention are CHRONOPHAGE by Tim Seeley and Ilias Kyriazis, because the world needs more sexy horror books, and WILDCAT UNDER GLASS by Stella Stergiou and Georgia Zachari, which is an adaptation of a famous Greek novel with the same title written by Alki Zei.


List the graphic novels and/or prose books that you’re looking forward to this year.

What am I looking forward to reading this year? Well… Off the top of my head…

NIGHT FEVER by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Jacob Phillips. They put a book out, I buy it. Simple as that. Previews look dynamite, as I’d expect. Been a while since they’ve played in a wholly new universe. Curious if the Bee Gees play a part. 😉

ULTIMATE INVASION by Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch. Hitch was an architect of the original Ultimates line, and Hickman seemingly buried the universe during Secret Wars. To say I’m curious would be an understatement. Bring it on. FALL OF X by various. Will this be the end of Mutant life as they know it? Is this the end of Krakoa? Who lives, dies, etc.? At this point, we don’t know. Count me amongst those interested in seeing what Gerry Duggan, Kieron Gillen, and all the others in The X Office have been planning for a long time.

FORGED by Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and Mike Henderson. A new Rucka book is always an event, and since he’s been away being a wildly successful screenwriter the past few years, this is doubly so. Seeing him team up with old friends Trautmann and Henderson explains the extra amount of FUN that bleeds off the page. I’ve read the first three issues, and it’s the real deal. Rabidly awaiting the rest.


About Brian Schirmer:

BRIAN SCHIRMER is a California-based screenwriter and critically acclaimed comic book creator, known for the Vault Comics series QUESTS ASIDE, the Image Comics series FAIRLADY and BLACK JACK KETCHUM, and the self-published ULTRASYLVANIA series of graphic novels.


Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


About Elena Gogou:

Elena Gogou is actually three gnomes in a trench-coat. When they aren’t on an epic quest, they draw comics for work and for fun. They are known for the Vault Comics series QUESTS ASIDE, the Greek graphic novel SPAZORAHOULA and the self-published erotic comics anthology SMUTCOMIC.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of QUESTS ASIDE Vol. 1, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends April 7th, midnight EST.

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


A Dream Within A Dream



Mythical Books

Interview/IG Post


#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt/IG Post


Sadie’s Spotlight

Interview/IG Post

Week Two:


Two Chicks on Books

Interview/IG Post


Kait Plus Books

Interview/IG Post


Jazzy Book Reviews

Excerpt/IG Post


Lifestyle of Me



Brandi Danielle Davis

IG Review/TikTok Post



IG Review/TikTok Post



IG Review

Week Three:


Country Mamas With Kids

Review/IG Post


Cara North

Review/IG Post



IG Review



IG Review


The Real World According To Sam

Review/IG Post


The Momma Spot

Review/IG Post


Review Thick And Thin

Review/IG Post

Week Four:



IG Review


See Sadie Read

Review/IG Post





the book near me

Review/IG Post


Read Dog Reviews

IG Spotlight



IG Review



IG Review

Week Five:



Review/IG Post


Emily Ashlyn

IG Review/FB Post



Review/IG Post


A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic



IG Review


Two Points of Interest



Book Blitz, playlist & Author Interview: Cloudy with a Chance of Witchcraft, by Mandy M. Roth

cloudy with a chance of witchcraft

Cloudy with a Chance of Witchcraft Cover

Cloudy with a Chance of Witchcraft
(Grimm Cove Book 1)
by Mandy M. Roth
Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction, Romance

When it rains, it pours…and sometimes love finds you even when you can’t find yourself.

Fate has given me a second chance at the happiness I once knew in the odd Southern town of Grimm Cove. But only if I can come to terms with some rather eye-opening revelations. Supernaturals are a real thing. I’m a witch. My high school sweetheart, who happens to be the Chief of Police in Grimm Cove, is my fated mate and a wolf-shifter. Ghosts exist and can be very nosy and meddlesome. Someone is murdering witches left and right. And last but not least, my ex-husband’s barely legal arm candy is taking fatal attraction to new levels of Hell.

I’m no shrinking violet, and with the help of my best friends, I’m going to live life on my terms–come Hell, high water, or magikal mishaps.

Catch while it’s free! Amazon US / UK / CA / AU

Author Interview:

Q: What was your inspiration for the Grimm Cove series and its unique setting?

A: I’ve lived in a lot of small towns in my life. Using one as a backdrop for the Grimm Cove series felt right. I loved how everyone knows everyone, yet there are so many secrets that are just below the surface. I married this with my obsession with gothic literature, classic Hollywood horror films, old television shows like The Addams Family, The Munsters, and Bewitched, and my overall quirky sense of humor. The end result was Grimm Cove, and I couldn’t be happier.

Q: Can you tell us more about the protagonist of the series and what readers can expect from her journey?

A: Poppy Proctor is the protagonist of Cloudy with a Chance of Witchcraft. If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because I borrowed it from the Salem Witch Trials. Not only were a number of the accused from the Proctor family, but also the name of an area where some believe the executions might have actually taken place rather than Gallows Hill summit. Poppy comes from a long line of powerful witches but never believed her grandmother and grandfather’s talk of it. She just assumed they were eccentric. All that changes for her when she finds her marriage of nineteen years coming to a fast end and finds herself the target of an evil entity out to steal her powers.

Q: The book deals with a multitude of supernatural beings and elements. How did you approach this in the book?

A: In approaching the supernatural elements of the book, I wanted to create a believable and relatable world. Anyone who has read my work knows I put countless weeks and often months into reaching everything that goes into the story. The supernatural elements were no different. I researched different types of supernatural creatures and their powers and tried to incorporate that in a way that was both authentic and exciting.

Q: One of the prominent themes of the book is love. Can you tell us more about the romantic aspect of the book?

A: The romantic aspect of the book is a big part of the story and deals with the concept of fated mates. Readers learn straightaway that Poppy has been burned by love more than once. Her first love, her teenage sweetheart, broke her heart and never spoke to her again. Then, her husband of nineteen years announced he wasn’t in love with her anymore and was seeing someone else. Thankfully, Poppy has two besties who are basically her ride-or-die bitches (or, in this case, witches), willing to do anything for her. Even if that means uprooting their lives and moving with her to the tiny town of Grimm Cove to start over at the age of forty. Poppy isn’t looking for love after having two rather unpleasant experiences, but Fate steps in, giving her a second chance with her first love.

Her teenage sweetheart is now the sheriff of Grimm Cove, and she’s quick to learn there is more to Brett Kasper than meets the eye.

Q: Can you give us a hint of what readers can expect in the next book of the series?

A: I can’t give away too much without spoiling Cloudy with a Chance of Witchcraft, but readers can expect more danger and mysteries in Grimm Cove, as well as get a front-row seat as Dana, one of Poppy’s ride-or-die-witches, learns that supernaturals are real and that she just so happens to be a fated mate of one. Hexing with a Chance of Tornadoes also has a deeper exploration of the other supernatural beings in the town and how they fit into the larger narrative. Additionally, readers will be taken deeper into the gothic literature angle that is unfolding within the series world.

Author Bio: 

Mandy M RothNY Times & USA Today bestselling author Mandy M. Roth®  loves 80s music and movies and wishes leg warmers would come back into fashion. She also thinks the movie The Breakfast Club should be mandatory viewing for…okay, everyone. When she’s not dancing around her office to the sounds of the 80s, she’s busy writing paranormal operatives and kick-butt urban fantasy heroines.

Mandy’s Website
Mandy’s Newsletter
Mandy’s Facebook Reader Group
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Mandy’s Twitter

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