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.

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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: A Fae is Done, by Danielle M. Orsino

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Welcome back to the Veil friends, and congratulations to Danielle M. Orsino on the release of A Fae is Done! Read on for details!


A Fae is Done
(Birth of the Fae #5)
by Danielle M. Orsino
Publication Date: March 30th, 2023
Genre: Epic Fantasy/ Fae

Prophecies, broken hearts, secrets, and scars. Bodies delivered on the wings of butterflies.

After Queen Aurora’s execution, the Court of Light falls into political unrest. The riots continue as new Queen Sekhmet takes her place on the throne and puts her long-planned agenda into action. Meanwhile, King Jarvok attempts to remedy his heartache but ends up divulging suspicions he has held close for centuries instead.

Alliances shift as dark mysteries bubble to the surface, but a prophecy reading brings a ray of hope. Unfortunately for others, it foretells certain doom. The Oracles speak of a future child who will unite the Fae courts and bring karmic retribution. Unlikely heroes will be forced together by fate, while unexpected enemies are revealed.

There are Fae in both courts who have plenty to hide. Some would kill to keep their secrets. Some are willing to die for them.

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About the Author


Danielle M. Orsino is a fantasy novelist whose lifelong vision to create whimsical realms that her readers can escape to. Her compelling word-weaving pays homage to a multitude of personal muses, from Chris Claremont and George Pérez (both famous comic book writers), to Anne Rice and Wonder Woman.

The creative spark of storytelling has been with Danielle ever since she was a child, but martial arts and her nursing career took center stage into adulthood. Then, on a day like any other, it was reignited during the most unexpected of moments: while treating one of her patients. Seeing that they longed for a distraction during their arduous treatments, the floodgates of inspiration soon burst forth. So, Danielle took it upon herself to tell them a story; a fantastical narrative that would leave the confines of that IV room’s walls and land upon a page. Before she knew it, what started as an imaginative tale to pass the time, turned into book, followed by an entire series: The Birth of Fae. This awe-inspiring series includes Locked out of Heaven (Book One), Thine Eyes of Mercy (Book Two), and From The Ashes (Book Three), all of which are published by 4 Horsemen Publications, Inc. And with an unwavering passion for cosplay and comics, it was a unanimous decision to place her on the cover of each book in all her Fae cosplay glory. The Birth of Fae also features Los, an affable chameleon dragon inspired by her fun-loving Yorkie named Carlos.

When writing wasn’t at the forefront of her mind, Danielle was a successful Martial Artist. Some of her achievements include “1999 World Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee”, “Female Martial Artist of the Year”, “WKA World Champion Silver Medalist 2008”, and numerous more. She has also garnered hundreds of martial art tournament wins, various other national and world titles, and features on big-name channels like TLC and CBS. She even had the rare opportunity to perform for former U.S. President Bill Clinton and collaborate alongside Vincent Lyn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. From there, she pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and she is now a Licensed Practical Nurse who focuses on Lyme disease research.

This “New Queen of the Fae’s” unmatched world-building and masterful Fae-origin retellings have led to an ever-growing queendom of “Fae-natics”. To begin embarking upon a quest in an epic world unlike any other, visit Danielle M. Orsino’s official website at

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Spotlight & Giveaway: Season of the Dragon, by Natalie Wright

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Season of the Dragon

Dragos Primeri Book 1

by Natalie Wright

Genre: Epic Fantasy


This dazzling epic fantasy series kickoff rewards and upends reader expectations.”—BOOKLIFE REVIEWS, Editor’s Pick

[Readers] looking for fantasy series titles that open with a bang of psychological and political allure will find that few can equal the force of Season of the Dragon.”—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

A real epic in the making!” ~Dario Ciriello, Editor

When dragons rise from a thousand-year slumber, to save her loved ones, a young changeling woman must unite her warring souls.

Quen Santu wasn’t born to save the world. She was created to destroy it.

Quen was born cursed with a second, shadow soul and is a misfit in her nomadic herding culture. Quen yearns to belong and for a love to call her own. But she is detested by animals, and no herdclan will have her. On the cusp of her twentieth year, Quen is at risk of becoming pesha—no one. Quen’s only hope for an honorable life is to take vows at one of the Pillars, schools dedicated to the magical and martial arts.

On the day a mysterious stranger reveals a dark prophecy, a dragon kills Quen’s father. The murder turns her life upside down, and dashes hope for an honorable life. Anger fuels Quen’s quest for vengeance, and she joins a vigilante group hunting the murderous dragon. The new found family provides comfort amid her profound loss and holds the promise of new love. But to preserve the belonging and love she craves, Quen struggles to hide her true identity.

Quen’s journey spans the continent, from the nomadic herding lands of the Sulmére sands to the opulent largesse of the capital—and reveals terrible truths. That a power-hungry Dynasty can ruin a life with a quill stroke. That a shadowy dragon cult has laid claim to her. And that even the leader of a revered institution aims to control Quen’s growing power.

Yet the question persists: Why?

The truth awaits at the end of her journey, but can love survive the truth? As Quen battles the beast within, time is running out. Will Quen finally overcome her curse and unite her warring souls? Or will her phantom soul consume her—and everyone she loves?

The fate of her homeland—and all she loves—hangs in the balance.

[Wright’s] powers of description are first-class, and her worldbuilding impressive. She presents her world with great clarity… The scenes in Qülla are especially sumptuous and vivid, and it’s impossible to not believe in such a place: a fabulous work.” ~Dario Ciriello, Editor

Wright’s Season of the Dragon world is unique, sumptuous, and highly engaging. I want to feast at the Palace di Solis and witness the incredible Volenex! SotD is filled with dragons, new magical creatures, sorcerers and mages, and intriguing new mythology. But SotD is more than great worldbuilding. Wright deftly weaves worldbuilding into a story that about the power of love. The love of a father for his child and how that love survives even death. Of the complex love between siblings and the bonds of friendship. And of the blossoming love of two young people trying to find their place in the world and discovering that love can be a life raft in the darkest of times. I highly recommend Season of the Dragon, and look forward to the next book in the series.” ~Jim Farley, Beta Reader

** Releases March 1st!!**

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Epic Fantasy & Sci-Fi Author and Podcaster. Mother, wife, and cat-wrangler. World traveler and lifelong nerd. Insatiably curious.

A member of SFWA, Natalie is the author of six published Sci-Fi & Fantasy novels and co-host of the Tipsy Nerds Book Club podcast. When not writing or podcasting, you can find Natalie participating on panels at SFF cons, book festivals, and comic-cons throughout the western U.S. She’s also a short story judge in the NYC Midnight international writing challenge, and a freelance content development editor. Her debut teen novel, Emily’s House, has been read over 2.2 million times on Wattpad. Now focusing on epic fantasy for adults, stay in touch via social media to learn more about her forthcoming epic fantasy series, tentatively titled Season of the Dragon.

Favorite book quote — “One more dance along the razor’s edge finished. Almost dead yesterday, maybe dead tomorrow, but alive, gloriously alive, today.” – Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos (Wheel of Time #6)

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