Thursday, November 21, 2019

James Riley Interview - The Last Dragon

Photo Content from James Riley

James Riley is the New York Times bestelling author of the HALF UPON A TIME series, the STORY THIEVES series, and the REVENGE OF MAGIC series. Contrary to what previous biographies have stated, he is a) real and b) not the character Nobody from his STORY THIEVES books. Where would people even get that idea? (Spoiler: From him. He totally made it sound like he really was Nobody. He thought it’d be funny. We’re sorry.)

He was born in Connecticut, where he lived for only a short time before moving to … well, quite a few states. He currently lives in Northern Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., because that’s where his cats are. He has four of them. Other people think that’s a bit much.

James is currently working on getting REVENGE OF MAGIC books out every six months, so he might be a little busy. But feel free to e-mail him with questions at, or ask on his blog.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Not to be hyperbolic or anything, but I think stories are what makes us human. We use stories to guide our lives (both fictional and non-fictional), we pass along our experiences through stories, and we even tell ourselves stories every night while we sleep. Without storytelling, we wouldn’t have ever come together into a society: They give us reasons to strive for something larger than ourselves, whether it’s the story of a country, a city, a family, or even a religious figure.

Also they’re a ton of fun.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
Probably reading while I was supposed to be going to sleep. My parents would let us stay up late if we read, but I took I took it to a whole new level.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Certainly being able to write full-time was a hugely rewarding experience (it took me around eight years of being published to get to that point!), but there’s nothing better than talking to a child who has read your books and loved them. It’s the greatest feeling in the world, and reminds us all of how we felt if we ever got to meet a writer we liked, which I was lucky enough to do as a kid.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Depending on the series, something different each time: For my fairy tale series, HALF UPON A TIME, I want kids to be thinking about who they are, and why we shouldn’t try to live our lives according to other people’s expectations. For STORY THIEVES, I hope they think about what stories and books really can mean to us, and why they’re so important. And for REVENGE OF MAGIC, it’s all about why we need something like “magic” (or imagination) in our lives … but probably shouldn’t let it get out of control J

What was the most memorable toy you played with from when you were little?
Oh, I’m an 80s kid, so it was all about G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Star Wars. All of which I still love.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
That “vineyard” is pronounced “vin-yeard,” not “vine yard” which is how I said it while reading in front of my class in fifth grade. That’ll stick with me forever now.

In your new book; THE LAST DRAGON, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it.
Of course! First, it’s best to start with REVENGE OF MAGIC, which is the first book in the series, and introduces us to the main character Fort, who’s on vacation in Washington, D.C. with his father, when a giant monster attacks, and steals Fort’s father away into the ground. As Fort is dealing with this, he learns that there’s a real-live school for magic that’s been started to deal with these creatures, because magic has returned … and it’s not happy.

THE LAST DRAGON continues the series, which will be seven books total, and deals with Fort trying to [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER] while some horrific monsters are searching for the last dragon from the title. It’s a secret who that dragon might be, though!

For those who are unfamiliar with Fort, how would you introduce him?
More than any of my characters, Fort is just a typical kid who’s been thrown into something far bigger than himself. He starts the series just wanting to spend time with his father, only to lose his dad to the monster I mentioned. From there, not knowing what happened to his dad, he wants revenge, to fight back against these creatures. Fortunately, he’s given that chance by going to the Oppenheimer School, the government-run school for magic.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
Hmm … not much surprises me about them, since I outline all my books before I start, but I guess one thing that might surprise readers is that though there’s a prophecy in the books of magic at the school about someone who will save the world by learning seven types of magic, Fort couldn’t care any less about that, as all he wants is to get revenge for what happened to his father. I love books about The Chosen One, someone who’s destined to save everyone, but that’s not Fort. Really, he’s not!

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Oh, they’d probably meet my character Bethany, from STORY THIEVES, who has the power to jump into any book and become a part of the story. She’s probably already visited REVENGE OF MAGIC at this point, honestly.

  • 1. Thirteen years ago, all around the world, skeletons are discovered, all at the same time. They look like dinosaurs, only they have wings. And it turns out they’re dragons.
  • 2. Next to each dragon skeleton is a book, completely untouched by being buried for hundreds of years. And each book is a spellbook from a different type of magic.
  • 3. But only people born on that day thirteen years ago or after can read from the books of magic. And that means kids.
  • 4. Thirteen years later, giant monsters begin attacking out of nowhere. And the only hope to stop them is to let kids read the books of magic, and learn spells.
  • 5. The government opens a school for magic, so that kids can infuse magic spells into weapons for soldiers to use against these monsters.
  • 6. But it turns out that these monsters might have something to do with the school…
  • 7. When Fort Fitzgerald, our main character, gets invited to the school, he’s told there are two books of magic there: Healing, and Destruction.
  • 8. Healing cures wounds and such, while Destruction has fireballs and lightning bolts, everything you’d need to fight monsters.
  • 9. Fort wants to learn Destruction magic, to fight back against the monsters that took his father. But instead, he’s put into the Healing class.
  • 10. And there might be more books of magic hidden at the school…
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
Always the 1980s, just due to the toys (see above)!

What event in your life would make a good movie?
Oh, my life is pretty boring to anyone not living it, I’d think, which is why I’m always daydreaming J

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Snakes riding spiders attacking me while I fall out of an airplane.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Not having to pay bills. Who knew?

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Yup! We have to do that every single day in our world today, or those people we don’t know will get hurt or worse, due to greed and ignorance.

What is your greatest adventure?
Writing a series of seven books in four years … we’ll see if I survive!

Fort Fitzgerald is determined to uncover the truth, but a new student at school and the secrets he has to keep complicate matters in this second novel in a thrilling new series from the author of the New York Times bestselling Story Thieves!

Fort Fitzgerald can’t stop having nightmares about the day his father was taken from him in an attack on Washington, DC. In these dreams, an Old One, an evil beyond comprehension, demands the location of the last dragon. But other than some dragon skeletons dug up with the books of magic on Discovery Day, Fort has never seen a dragon before. Could there still be one left alive?

And weirdly, Fort’s not the only one at the Oppenheimer School having these nightmares. His new roommate, Gabriel, seems to know more than he’s letting on about this dragon as well. And why does everyone at the school seem to do whatever Gabriel says? What’s his secret?

Fort’s going to need the help of his friends Cyrus, Jia, and Rachel, if he’s going to have any chance of keeping the Old Ones from returning to Earth. Unless, the Old Ones offer something Fort could never turn down…


"A fast-paced, adventurous series starter perfect for fans of Rick Riordan." Booklist

"Fans of Harry Potter and Rick Riodan’s books will enjoy the crafted mixture of magic and military life." School Library Connection

"This imaginative and exciting story feels like the start of something big." Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fablehaven and Dragonwatch

You can purchase The Last Dragon at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JAMES RILEY for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of THE LAST DRAGON by James Riley.


  1. My favorite teacher was my second grade teacher.

  2. "Do you remember your favorite teacher?" I remember different teachers that I thought were my favorite at the time, yes.

  3. Yes, I remember my favorite teacher.

  4. I remember my favorite teacher from 1st grade. She had red hair.

  5. Yep. He was my Spanish teacher in highschool. He was so energetic. Years later in a different city I ended up working with one of his sons for a few years.

  6. Yes I do remember my favorite teacher. I actually had a few favorites which made school tolerable.

  7. I certainly do. Miss Tooker (bless her soul) taught me to read and I believe instilled my love of learning.

  8. My favorite teacher was a history teacher that just made it fun. She had a great personality that the kids really gravitated towards

  9. Yes- my favorite teach was my home ec. teacher in high school. She was great!