Like most of my books, this started with a premise: an accidental hero. Someone who happens to be in just the right place and make just the wrong (or right!) choice that ends up granting them superpowers. Or, in the case of Nightingale, an opinionated and charming magic sword. Out of that seed I grew my protagonist, Lark, a pragmatic, isolated, girl thief who wanted nothing to do with heroism.
I drafted and then revised this book during a period of great turmoil in my life (the loss of my beloved dog Charlie, major medical issues for close family) but it was a delight to write about Lark and her companions. Especially her loyal and trusty Sword, who was always stealing the scene.
As the story developed I read about real-world heroism in the form of labor right activists and real-world suffering in the form of such tragedies as the fate of the “Radium Girls” and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. I hope that readers of Nightingale will go out and learn more about the history of worker’s rights in our own world, and learn about the real-life heroes who have fought and continue to fight against injustice and abuse.
Even from the earliest outlines, Lark’s journey involved recognizing that no one can be a hero alone, that there are all sorts of heroes and not all of them carry magic swords.
Similarly, no story can become a full-fledged book without the work of many. I was aided in this particular quest by my brilliant editor Julia McCarthy and my wonderful agent Hannah Fergesen, with help from the entire teams at Simon Kids and kt literary. The gorgeous cover art is by Marion Bordeyne and the fantastic design by Rebecca Syracuse . I am also incredibly grateful to my beta readers and writer friends who provided support, encouragement, and feedback just when I most needed it.
I’m excited to be participating in a bunch of fun middle grade focused virtual events this month and next, just as NIGHTINGALE flies out into the world. You can find out more and register at the links provided below!
Wednesday April 21 7PM EST Jaclyn Moriarty in conversation with Deva Fagan Hosted by PRINT: A Bookstore Join Jaclyn and me as we chat about Jaclyn’s charming, gorgeous, insightful new middle grade novel THE STOLEN PRINCE OF CLOUDBURST, which features one of the most insidious villains of any book I have EVER read (though I won’t give away who it is…no spoilers!)
Thursday April 28, 6:30PM EST Youth Author Event: Ellen Booraem & Deva Fagan Hosted by Blue Hill Public Library Join Ellen and me as we chat about Ellen’s heartfelt, magical new middle grade novel, RIVER MAGIC, which features meditations on family and loss, friendship, dangerous magic, and a water dragon!
“Though a magic sword with the personality of an eager dog steals a lot of scenes, this tale of a reluctant orphan forced to play the hero offers numerous feats of derring-do as well as insight into the importance of making and having friends—not to mention a fine climactic battle with a giant robot.” ~ Booklist STARRED REVIEW
I am thrilled and honored by the news that Rival Magic has been chosen as the winner of the 2020 Cybils Award for Middle Grade Speculative Fiction! I have followed the Cybils for years and always dreamed that one of my books might be chosen for the list of finalists, so to actually win, especially in the company of SO MANY other amazing books, is literally a dream come true! I’m so grateful and honored.
I’m also getting excited for my next middle grade adventure Nightingale to head out into the world in less than two months! The first trade review is out, and I’m really pleased. Kirkus calls Nightingale “An entertaining, organic, action-packed combination of adventure, science fiction, and fantasy...”
My fourth middle-grade novel Rival Magic is now OUT and available in hardback and ebook form wherever books are sold! Woohoo!!!!
Thank you to anyone who purchases a copy, whether it’s for yourself or a young friend or family member. A book never really feels REAL to me until it’s out there in the world, in the hands (and hopefully the hearts) of readers. I may be the one who wrote down the words, but my stories truly come alive in the imaginations of my readers. I really hope you all enjoy this one!
Here’s a couple new trade reviews I can share:
“A fast-paced and pleasant magical read that proves that the power of friendship can help overcome many challenges. A strong choice for middle grade readers who enjoy adventure, fantasy, and enemies-to-friends tales.” ~ School Library Journal
“Lovably imperfect heroines, dancing turnips, a sea monster or two, and a political whodunnit keep the pages turning until the satisfying conclusion.” ~ BCCB
It’s just about a month till my new MG fantasy Rival Magic will be published, whee! Some early trade reviews and blurbs have come in, and I am so thrilled that readers are enjoying this book.
“Full of fierce girls, fabulously fun magic, humor and so much heart. I loved it!” – Stephanie Burgis, author of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and Kat, Incorrigible
“Clever, fast-paced fantasy punctuated with surprising twists and plenty of girl power.” ~ Kirkus
“A gorgeous fairy tale that touches on the benefits of cooperation and the beauty of discovering one’s own particular brand of magic.” ~ Booklist
If you would like to pre-order a copy, I encourage you to consider doing so from my local independent bookstore, PRINT: A Bookstore! You can even request that it be signed and/or personalized! Current world events are especially hard on local businesses, so it would mean a lot to me if you considered supporting an independent bookstore.
And, last but not least, some exciting news for any Russian readers out there!
EKSMO Publishers has licensed the Russian language hardcover, paperback, eBook & audio rights to Rival Magic!
I am thrilled that I can finally share the gorgeous cover for my next middle grade novel, Rival Magic (coming in April 2020)! You can see the full cover and a synopsis at Charlotte’s Library. The gorgeous art is by Saoirse Lou and the design is by Rebecca Syracuse. They did such an amazing job capturing the whimsy, adventure, humor and magic I hope readers will find inside the cover. Here’s a teaser:
I am SO VERY EXCITED to share that I have a new middle grade fantasy novel on the way in 2021! I’ve had so much fun working on this story so far, and I am thrilled I am going to be able to share it with readers. Here’s the official announcement:
I am thrilled to share that I have a new MG fantasy novel on the way! I am so happy to be working with the brilliant Reka Simonsen and Julia McCarthy as my editors, and so grateful to my amazing agent Hannah Fergesen for making this happen. I can’t wait for the world to meet my two wizard girls, Antonia and Moppe, and join them on their adventures.
Here’s the official announcement:
[Image text reads: Reka Simonsen and Jula McCarthy at Atheneum have bought Circus Galacticus author Deva Fagan’s new middle grade fantasy, A Rival Magic. The story features book-smart Antonia and her rival Moppe, two apprentice magicians who must learn to embrace their strengths and forge a powerful friendship while facing enchanted creatures, voice-stealing forests, and sea monsters in order to save their imprisoned teacher and help the rightful queen retake her throne. Publication is scheduled for spring 2020; Hannah Fergesen at KT Literary negotiated the deal for world rights.]