There is a legend that everyone knows- the legend of the Dragon Pillars. Every several hundred years, darkness befalls the land. The Dragons awaken and choose their Pillars, humans strong enough to withstand their powers, and together they drive back the darkness.
In the towering cathedral of Vivdaugas, students flock to study the archives built upon the legend and train to reach the glory of its heroes. Garred Conway is preparing for his test to become a true Defender when a storm threatens to destroy the citadel, and the land around it. Trapped in the catacombs, desperate to save those he cares for, he finds help from the most surprising place- the Water Dragon Aysu. Now, as Aysu’s new pillar, he finds himself with more responsibility thrust on him than he could have ever imagined.
The Pillar of Fire Shula is left reeling with loss and a new heavy burden of responsibility. The Water Pillar Garred leads a small party into the dangerous Whispering Forest to seek out weapons that were blessed by the Light Dragon. Disaster is narrowly avoided, but it brings a dark secret to light.Once reunited, Shula steels her resolve and the journey continues. With two Dragons awoken, their quest for the third leads them to the harsh terrain of the desert. The sand dregs up a certain Defender’s self-proclaimed pathetic past and the hard feelings associated with it. Can a Dragon really chose a Pillar from an isolated people dedicated to a life of pacifism?
Interview With The Author
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Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I write under the pen name Sanzaki Kojika. A quickie about my pen name…my real name is Fawn, and Kojika is Japanese for that. I cam up with the name Sanzaki originally by mixing letters from my real last name around. In Japanese, surnames are first.
I’ve pretty much been reading from as early as I could. My mother was big into literature and mythology, keeping an abundance of books in our house, especially fantasy-based. I fell in love with the worlds that were scrawled across the pages, so it just felt natural to create my own. I wrote my first story with a friend back in fourth grade…about talking dogs in space. Yeah, it’s about as weird as it sounds.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m the type who constantly has to be doing something, well moreso, at least two of something. I work with sound or TV on in the background. I’ve even managed to play video games while drawing. I believe I developed this weird practice from being involved in hours of dance and merit/AP classes since elementary school. If I wanted to do something, I had to find time, and since I had none, so I just made it by doing multiple things at the same time. The biggest side effect to this has basically been my inability to ever turn my mind off.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
I like to think I’ve had a lot of adventures and my life is hardly boring, but if I were to pick out something that happened relatively recently…my “boyfriend” at the time took me to Japan back in August last year for two weeks. Both of us know Japanese fairly well so we really got to explore the country and visit places tourists don’t normally go. We even went to a comic event and bought way too much. I won’t bore you with all the details, but the first part we spent in Osaka, then Kyoto. We stayed one day in Hakone before spending the last week in Tokyo. We went to a private ryoukan (Japanese-styled inn) in Hakone that spoke no English. At one point, my boyfriend accidentally ordered a go board. The next day, he rented some sports cars to drive down the mountains in Hakone and afterwards proposed. It was super nerdy, but definitely our thing. He rented my favorite car even to propose in front of. I have such great memories of that trip overall.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Gosh, I have quite a few. I think one of my biggest ones though actually does relate to writing. I absolutely cannot stand when people don’t use an oxford comma. I cannot fathom how someone would not want to add it in. It adds so much clarity. I’ve had people try to argue with me about this and explain their views, but this is just one silly thing I cannot budge on. Oxford comma, always. Or else.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I grew up in Northwest Indiana, right near Chicago, IL. I really like the area because it offers so many of the perks of Chicago without dealing with a lot of the excess. Rent and gas are cheaper, traffic is lighter, but we still get to enjoy some of the same conveniences. We have a trainline that goes straight into Chicago. A lot of people in the area work in Chicago but live in what’s called “the region” for that reason.
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I’d like to keep it simple. Do some things I love with people I love. Get food with my family, spend time gaming with my fiancé. Cuddle with my cat, read a good book. Just relaxing and enjoying the time I had left. I would want to leave them all with good memories, so they could remember me like that.
Who is your hero and why?
I have a rather cliché answer to this. Honestly, on a fundamental level, I have a lot of heroes, both real and fictional, that have inspired me greatly. My mother has been one of them for a long time. She taught my sisters and I about the magic in the world from a young age. She always took time out of her day to work with us, to teach us, and to read to us. She cleaned and delivered newspapers to help cover the costs of whatever activities we wanted to do or try. She drove us all over the US without complaint for competitions, then later, anime conventions. She is still the biggest supporter of what we do even after all these years.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I would want to be the type to rule with compassion rather than an iron fist. I believe that rulers who use fear as their instrument are destined to see their downfall. I would want to be benevolent and willing to make sacrifices for the greater good without condemning others in the wake. Flowery words that sound good on paper, but I’m not sure how easy it would be. It’s impossible to make everyone happy, after all.
What are you passionate about these days?
Writing, of course. I spend a lot of time a week writing. I do my own works and even do editing for other authors. I have a lot of stories I want to tell, and not enough time to get them all out. I read a lot as well, not just for editing, but I try to read a bit before bed every night, too. I also spend a lot of time drawing, be it comics or just general art. I basically always keep myself busy, but I never lose sight of the things I love to do.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Mostly read and draw, but I read and draw what I want to for myself. I tend to do a lot of work, especially with illustration, for other people, or for specific projects, so it’s always nice to kick back and just draw something for the same of drawing. I also hop on videogames every now and then, especially games I can play with my friends. Monster Hunter World is my current to-go to.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I had been writing stories from a young age, but it wasn’t until high school when I took a creative writing class that I really felt like a writer. I wasn’t in the best place at the time, but it was a class I was interested in, and since I already liked writing, I figured, why not? My teacher was amazing. She really taught us to break out of the shells and restrictions society and English classes had forced on us. To me, it felt like the first time I was really told that it was okay to go crazy and just be yourself when writing. For our final project, I started what eventually became my first published novel “Beyond the Dancing Flames.” My teacher did private reviews with each of us on our project. She thoroughly enjoyed mine and implored upon me that should I ever finish it, she would be among the first to read it. She was the first person outside just a few close friends to ever read my writing and definitely the first to make me feel like “huh, guess I can write after all.”
Do you have a favorite movie?
A few, because I am indecisive about a lot of things. I suppose more so, I like to say “movies I can rewatch over and over.” In no particular order…Twister, Anastasia (the animated one), Jurassic Park, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Avengers…well, I’ll stop with just those. I really enjoy movies that have strong stories and strong character development. There are plenty of movies I love that I couldn’t rewatch as easily though.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I actually think a few could work, but if I were to choose the one I’d like to see most as a movie, it would be my Dragon Pillars series. Two of the three books are out as of now, but it will hopefully finish in the next year or two. It’s been one of my more popular stories, and I am in love with some of the cast. Seeing them on the big screen would be a dream come true. A dream I’m sure so many authors share.
Conversely, I think my series The Archive of Sinners would work better as a series than movies. The rest of my novels I think would do okay as movies.
Fawn Szymoniak, aka “SanzakiKojika” has been a resident of the fantasy world from a young age, growing up in a house full of books and mythology. Her mother introduced her to fantasy works by authors like Barbara Hambly and Terry Brooks. By the age of 8, she had already written her first novel (albeit crudely). Since then, she has taken to mostly writing fantasy, following characters through magical worlds full of wonder and danger. Her series “The Archive of Sinners” stands out as her only non-fantasy, being a paranormal mystery.
On top of her writing, she is also a freelance graphic designer. Her love of art and writing, spurred her onto comics. She has several graphic novels self-published, including her webcomic “Zos Kias,” which is over 10 years old.