Brigit, a fae runaway, didn’t plan on getting a human roommate. Or that she would be placed under a fairy debt. Will the dryad be able to save Logan from a siren’s love spell or fail the semester? Byrd Nash gives some inside information about the first book in the College Fae series.
Suitable for 12+, a coming of age, contemporary YA fantasy with a variety of mythical creatures from legend and folklore.
Where did the idea of Never Date a Siren come from?
I had a story fragment floating around about a non-human girl who ends up becoming a secret roommate to a human. The first chapter of Never Date a Siren, is pretty much how this whole thing started, however, it stalled when I didn’t have a clear idea of the human character.
After writing Wicked Wolves of Windsor, I wondered, what if Logan Dannon (from Granny Starseed) could be the human half of the roommate situation? And everything started falling into place writing wise.
I knew after writing Wicked Wolves I wanted to do a series that would take place over four books. Once I got involved with Never Date, the world showed there was enough substance there to make some enjoyable stories.
Who is the reader for Never Date a Siren?
Beta readers told me over and over again it was a YA fantasy (while I had been thinking adult fantasy). In response to their feedback, I did make some changes to make it more suitable to the YA audience. There is no cursing or sexual experiences in this book.
On the other hand, it is a great read for adults because it has a plot – unlike so many of what passes as YA Fantasy nowadays. There’s a lot of heart to the story which I think will speak to a wide range of ages.
Honestly, it was the beta readers who kept telling me that Harry Potter fans would enjoy this book. I hope they are right!
Let’s talk about Brigit who is the main featured character on the cover. It’s obvious she is a woman of color. Why did you go that direction?
One reason I stalled on this story was I had always envisioned the dryad character of Brigit as black. However, I am not a woman of color and I didn’t want to distress anyone by writing about a minority character since I don’t have those experiences.
I spent several months thrashing this idea over. I could just change the character but I really wanted that representation! I felt it was really needed in the fantasy genre.
I really wanted a black main character that little girls could go – wow! I’m reading about a black fairy princess!
After discussing it with family and readers, I decided that Brigit and the book would not be about the black experience. I could not write that type of book. I ended up removing a lot of references about racism and the current situation in our society due to this.
So Brigit, while her skin is dark and she has an Afro is a fairy from the Perilous Realm and her thinking/personality is derived from those experiences.
Another big choice you made was setting the country in a German-like country. How did that come about? And tell us about Bewachterberg.
When I was thinking about such a huge time gap being removed from current events, it naturally occurred to me what would happen if a European country did not experience two world wars?
The how and the why of being hidden for 99 years and a day is explained in Never Date but there is a richer background that I may explore in short stories. One beta reader already asked me to write that origin story! LOL
I also have a writer friend who is working on a historical fiction piece set in medieval Germany. I’ve also visited Germany (in my college years), and one of my brothers lived in Germany for about 8 years. So I have a passing familiarity with the country. And I was very lucky in getting a beta reader with a German background.
You’ve used fairies in your book Wicked Wolves (specifically A Society of Heartless Women). What do you enjoy about them?
I have a love for folklore. Old legends fascinate me. Creatures of myth really are my jam. I’ve had a love affair with griffins since I was about nine.
In the College Fae series, I pull on a lot of European myths – some of which people may be familiar with such as dryads, naiads, kelpies, and brownies.
However, while I have a great deal of respect for these old stories and I try to maintain the integrity of the legend, I also want to create a character that contemporary readers could meet and recognize today.
I think the College Fae series will bring to life these magical fae beings in a relateable way.
So is the Leopold Ottos University in Geheimetür, Bewachterburg a magic school? Teaching lessons in being a wizard like the Harry Potter series?
No. And it’s the big reason why I initially felt uncomfortable with the Harry Potter comparisons by the beta readers. No one is taking potion classes or waving a magic wand in front of a professor in the College Fae series.
LOTTOS (the nickname for the school) is a human university teaching your standard subjects. Where the magic and the unusual come into the story is with the fae creatures: Brigit the dryad, Granite the eotan, the brownie, the kelpie, etc…
The country is filled with magical beings that you see every day – and which wreck your human life!
I was also, when writing the series, unaware of the magic school genre in fantasy (yes, sometimes I am incredibly naive). This book really doesn’t fit into those story themes and I hope the cover clearly reflects that. No werewolves or vampires, or sexy schoolgirl outfits with a reverse harem theme. Sorry.
There’s a short story (Knight of Cups) using Brigit as a character. How does that fit into your College Fae series?
Knight of Cups uses Brigit (the dryad) and Jib (the cat púca) from Never Date a Siren and takes place the summer after the events in the first book.
It’s a standalone short story, that takes place at a France chateau. So if a reader wants a preview of what the College Fae is about, this gives you a taste with a quick read that is a low cost short story.
I do plan on several more short stories that use characters from the series that are standalones. They will be issued the month before a new book is released as some characters just scream for more details about their lives.
Once I finish Book #2 which I’m writing during November’s NaNoWriMo, I’ll work on a short story that includes Logan, Granite, and the Kelpie going to Munich for Oktoberfest, a trip filled with humorous disaster (rather like the theme of The Out-of-Towners).
Never Date a Siren is quite different than Wicked Wolves of Windsor. Tell us about those differences.
One of the fun things about being an Indie writer is I can write books the way I want them and not be constrained by genres or what a publisher wants me to do (of course this also effects book sales!).
Wicked Wolves of Windsor is not only a short story collection versus Never Date a Siren is a novella/book, but Wicked Wolves can be rather gut wrenching in its themes.
Wicked Wolves deals with some serious issues such as child abuse, spousal abuse, when is man a monster, and when is a monster a better choice. While an older teen would get a lot out of Wicked Wolves, I do not market it for the teen market due to some of the disturbing plots.
Never Date a Siren is a much more lighthearted story of adventure and friendship. It’s about what makes a friend, how to be a friend, and the differences we all have and how to navigate relationships.
The wonderful writing flow, perfect plot pacing, rich character development, and sly humor is found in both.
Where can you find Never Date a Siren?
- Amazon (ebook and print book)
- Barnes and Noble (ebook, and print book in process)
- APPLE Books (ebook)
- KOBO Books (ebook)
It does take a few weeks for the book to propagate across platforms. I’ll be updating the latest places to buy the book on the Never Date a Siren book page.