Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Guest Post with Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos - Twilight of the Elves

Photo Credit: David Levithan

ZACK LORAN CLARK and NICK ELIOPULOS grew up in Florida and now live in New York. Best friends, they get together to play Dungeons & Dragons every week. Zack fervently hopes that magic is real; Nick desperately hopes that monsters are not. The Adventurers Guild is their first novel.

1. Zed crept through the snow-covered forest, shivering beneath his heavy cloak.

He moved quickly, cutting between the trees and following the footprints left by their leader. His friends trailed him in a staggered line, crunching noisily through the frost. Above them, the stars sparkled in a silent parade of their own.

ZACK LORAN CLARK: This might be cheating, since it’s the first line of the book. But I wanted a crisp image of the kids out there in the wilds to start things off. This chapter plays out like a mini-dungeon delve—to capture the fantasy role-playing spirit that inspired the series!

2. Bells rang for many purposes in Freestone. They marked the time. They signaled the start of festival days, and they rang uninterrupted for the better part of a day on the rare occasions when a royal was born.

But the series of low, monotonous notes that rang out now meant one thing only: Someone in Freestone had died.

NICK ELIOPULOS: I love the pivot moment in a sequel, where the story moves from “here’s what everyone’s been up to” to “here’s where things are going.” To me, this passage represents that moment: an ominous signal that the characters are about to be swept up in a new story.
3. “Sorry,” Zed whispered, feeling his ears flush. “I was trying to be quiet.”

“Somehow that’s worse,” Micah said. “Knowing you’re slinking around doing Fie knows what. Why can’t you fart and knock into things in the morning, like a normal roommate?”

ZACK LORAN CLARK: I always knew that Zed’s dynamic with his new roommate, Micah, would be fraught. Zed just can’t win where the bully is concerned. What I didn’t expect was that Micah would become one of our favorite characters. Nick and I ended up surrendering some of our best lines to him.

4. Brock glared at Micah, and Micah glared back. “We’re not getting along,” Brock insisted. “We’re just . . . annoyed in the same direction.”

NICK ELIOPULOS: Zack’s right, I definitely enjoyed writing Micah, particularly as he’s such a fun parallel to Brock. Both boys like to be at the center of things, so there’s a sort of constant struggle between them. And I feel that struggle as I write them: “Who should get the last word here?”

5. “What can I say? I’ve got the soul of a poet.”

“Sure you do,” Liza grumbled. “Trapped in a cursed gem under your bed, maybe.”

NICK ELIOPULOS: There’s a struggle between Brock and Liza, too, but it has an undercurrent of affection. He has a pretty healthy ego, and she has a special talent for taking the wind out of his sails. And I just really enjoy writing banter!


6. Queen Me’Shala’s eyes were practically glowing with excitement. She stepped toward Zed and gently pressed his ear tip between her gloved fingers. The material was softer than anything he’d ever felt. “Fate has cast you among the humans,” she murmured. “But perhaps you’d always hoped for a chance to make your own decision, hmm? A real choice.”

ZACK LORAN CLARK: The queen of the elves is a captivating figure; with the same breath she can be both magnetic and menacing. This line may not be my prettiest in the whole book, but for Zed it represents a pivotal juncture.

7. But fury was like fire; easy to stoke and hard to control.

NICK ELIOPULOS: This is one of those lines that I put in for a little bit of color but that ended up feeling more meaningful in retrospect. Brock’s quickness to anger, particularly toward authority figures, is a big part of his character; Zed’s flirtation with dark magic, as represented by his powerful green flame, might just lead to some control issues of a different sort.

8. The world was so much bigger than Zed. Than all of civilization combined, he imagined. These mountains had seen the rise and fall of kingdoms. They had witnessed the Day of Dangers, and any number of calamities before it. Now they watched a train of children marching across the valley, children who hoped that by some miracle they could save one precious city from the same fate that had befallen so many others.

ZACK LORAN CLARK: The first time I ever saw mountains (I’m from a very flat part of the country) I remember how awed I was by their BIGNESS. Zed has a similar experience out in the wilds, which leads to this reflective moment.

9. Row after row of empty tombs in room after room. And each tomb represented an undead soldier in the Lich’s army. That army would not tire. It did not require food or drink or shelter from the cold. And seeing this place, the scale of it, Brock now realized that this unstoppable army numbered in the millions.

“We can’t win,” he said.

NICK ELIOPULOS: By this point we’d shown how scary these monsters are in action. I wanted a moment where the characters were confronted with the sheer numbers they were up against: not just zombies but GENERATIONS of zombies. Underscoring the point, this is a rare moment of Brock’s bluster failing him.

10. “Perhaps we could sing to pass the time,” Jayna suggested between nibbles of cheese. “Adventurers enjoy . . . bawdy stories, right? Fife certainly knows plenty. In the Silverglows, I once heard a very naughty song about an apprentice who accidentally sends her instructor’s robes billowing up during—”

“No singing, either,” Frond said.

ZACK LORAN CLARK: Worst camping trip ever.

I should probably start at the beginning, Zed wrote, when things first went wrong?.

Zed, Brock, and their friends may have saved Freestone from destruction, but the fight against the Dangers is far from over. No one knows what to expect next from the dark power that forced the elves to abandon their city. And the influx of elf refugees in Freestone strains resources and brews resentment among the townspeople. Things have shifted between best friends Zed and Brock, as well, with their friendship crumbling under the weight of the secrets they're keeping from each other.
When tensions reach an all-time high, Queen Me'Shala, leader of the elves, approaches the Adventurers Guild with a mission. She wants a small group of adventurers to go behind the king's back on a covert mission to save her city, and Zed, Brock, Liza, Jett, Micah, and their elven friend Fel join the quest. To face a powerful form of magic thought to be extinct, the adventurers will have to learn how to rely on each other and fight harder than ever before.

Don't miss this second installment of Zack Loran Clark and Nicholas Eliopulos's Adventurers Guild trilogy, where the stakes are raised, the action is breathless, and the dangers will stop even the bravest of hearts.

Junior Library Guild Selection
Kirkus Reviews' Best Middle-Grade Fantasy of 2017

"A solidly constructed world, endearing characters, and lots of fantasy-based adventure with fast-paced action." ―School Library Journal

"Fast-paced adventure. The diverse group of friends... works solidly as a team, but secrets and divided loyalties create enough tension to keep things interesting...A cliffhanger of an ending sets up a larger conflict for the next volume, and readers will be eager to join the guild for their further adventures." ―BCCB

"Clark and Eliopulos... establish a strong core of interesting male and female characters and thrust them into action, while setting up relationships, conflicts, and mysteries to explore in later volumes. With its quick pace and likable heroes, this fantasy adventure will readily find a following." ―Booklist

You can purchase Twilight of the Elves at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ZACK AND NICK for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Twilight of the Elves (The Adventurers Guild #2) by Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos. 


  1. "What is your grand adventure?" The adventure that we call life!

  2. My grand adventure is traveling around the world.

  3. My grand adventure is also traveling around the world...I've been working on it!

  4. I'd love to go to Australia and New Zealand.

  5. My grand adventure is a trip to Disney World in a motorhome!

  6. My grand adventure would be to travel to Russia and visit the towns where my grandparents grew up in.

  7. My grand adventure is life with my children