Dan Stone is the author of the gay romantic fantasy “Ice on Fire: The Test of Our Lives,” sequel to the Lambda Literary Award finalist “The Rest Of Our Lives” (Lethe Press).
He is an author, poet, photographer/digital artist, life coach, and college instructor whose fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling, White Crane Journal, A&U Magazine, Astropoetica, Mostly Maine, Bay Windows, Chiron Review, Gents, Badboys, and Barbarians, New Gay Male Poetry, and Rebel Yell: Stories by Contemporary Southern Gay Authors.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Try not to make it so hard or to buy into the notion that it has to be a struggle to be good or worthwhile. Writing takes effort and commitment and some measure of discipline, but if it isn’t done primarily for the joy of doing it, you’re in for (in my view) an unnecessarily long and hard road ahead.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Not anymore, really. At some point when I was beginning work on my first completed novel I changed my overall approach to writing to one that I refer to as ‘active receptivity’ which really just means that my work isn’t so much to make stuff up as it is to open up to whatever that space is in me where ideas and dreams live. When I get out of my own way, and ‘listen’ that part of me seems always ready to speak.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
For me, plot always emerges from an intimate knowledge of the main characters. Once I’ve taken the time to get to know them as fully as I can, they are more than willing to tell me their story.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?
I’ve finished a manuscript for a “children’s book for adults” that I’m excited about getting out into the world. The book is illustrated by a dear friend and brilliant painter and its a collaborative effort I’m very proud of and eager to share.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure how quirky it really is, but I do write the first draft of all my books in longhand. It feels more organic somehow, putting pen to paper. So I’ll buy some really cool hardbound journals with lined paper and fill them up with the first draft. Then the rewriting/editing process begins when that’s finished and I start typing the manuscript.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I heard from quite a few after my first novel was published. Some of the common responses from them were, “Are you Colm or Aidan (the two main characters)?” “Where’s my Aidan?”
And, “When is the sequel coming out?” In general, something about those characters seems to resonate with some readers’ dreams or desires or what they imagine a truly magical romance would be.
Ice On Fire: The Test of Our Lives
In this sequel to the Lambda Literary Award finalist The Rest of Our Lives, author Dan Stone returns to the enchanting romance between Colm McKenna and Aidan Gallagher, both elemental witches who have been falling in love throughout the course of history thanks to the magic of reincarnation. Aidan begins having visions of an odd woman with a child who may have answers to the missing pieces of their pasts. Even more challenging, both men find themselves responsible for their bloodline. That means children! Life for these two lovers is about to get interesting….
We both must have dozed off again. I opened my eyes to find the room still dark, and I felt the initial confusion of waking up in unfamiliar surroundings, unable at first to make out any of the shapes in the shadows. Aidan was unusually still beside me. I held my breath for a few seconds until I could hear his soft, reassuring inhale and exhale. We had burrowed back under the covers, and I felt the weight of the comforter on my legs and the warmth of his back even though we weren’t touching.
My eyes were still adjusting to the darkness when I saw a faint glow in the far corner of the room, near the large window overlooking Lakeshore Drive and the inland ocean that is Lake Michigan. I thought at first it must be the sunrise pushing through the heavy curtains, but as I blinked a few times and sat up slightly, I could tell that this glow—still just the faintest illumination—was not coming from outside. It was something in the corner of the room and it was moving. Approaching. Even more unsettling, I realized as it drew closer and the light shifted that something was in the room with us, and it was coming toward the bed
I reached toward Aidan to wake him but stopped short of actually touching him. I started to speak but something gentle yet persuasive held me still. The figure was now at the side of the bed, and the dim light around it brightened enough for me to see a woman standing beside me, looking into my eyes .
The light radiated from her as well as surrounded her, soft but bright enough for me to see her fair complexion, the waves of dark red hair around her shoulders set on fire by the light, and her dark, shining eyes. Her presence was striking. Forceful but still, it was somehow familiar. She smiled slightly as she put a slim finger to her lips, urging me to remain silent.
I realized she was holding something in her arms. She stood motionless beside the bed for a few moments, smiling a familiar, enigmatic smile, the light making a fiery halo of her hair, her dark eyes mysterious with incredible warmth and power but, again, familiar.
She slowly leaned over me, again putting a finger to her lips, and I thought I saw her glance briefly at Aidan beside me. I started to sit up, but she shook her head as she gently placed the bundle in her arms in the space between Aidan and me on the bed. I couldn’t tell what it was, only that it was warm and wrapped in soft layers of cloth.
I looked up at her and she smiled and nodded. I felt again this distinct impression that I knew her. Suddenly soft currents of air rose in the room, warm and cool breezes that I immediately recognized as the gentler versions of the North and South winds that were Aidan’s and my companions and part of our magick. The breezes stirred and the halo of light around the woman’s face grew brighter until I could no longer clearly see her eyes or her features. I looked down at the soft bundle in the bed between my sleeping boyfriend and me, and an infant’s wide-open eyes stared up at me .
I jumped out of the dream and up in our bed with a gasp that should have awakened the notoriously light sleeper beside me. But Aidan’s eyes were closed, his lips in their usual slightly parted nighttime position. Whatever movement or sounds I’d made, my oblivious boyfriend was still sleeping. Like a baby.
Review by Debbie Attenborough
Independent reviewer for Divine Magazine, I was gifted my copy of this book.
Colm and Aidan have been together in this lifetime for two years. Their book of the previous lives has been a roaring success.
Long dead mothers begin appearing in dreams, with a baby too.
Colm and Aidan must travel to Vegas to find their destiny.
This is book two, the sequel to The Rest of Our Lives. I strongly suggest you read that before this one. It’s not absolutely necessary to but I just suggest you do.
I stand by what I said about Colm, in my review for the first book. I found him a weak narrator at points, more so here than the other book. He has a tendency to go off at a tangent, especially in the middle of a conversation. It was a little off putting.
I found this a much better read! It sort of creeps up on you when you aren’t looking, or when Colm is off on one. You don’t get the full picture of what’s going on, who the visions in the dreams are, all in one go. It slips and slides its way into focus. I loved that! I was plotting and planning ahead, some I got right, some not.
And it’s not until THEY ( but not saying who) get to Vegas that it really comes together in a way I did not see coming at me. And I’m left hanging! Not quite a throw-your-kindle-at-the-wall ending, but very nearly. More a I-need-book-three-like-yesterday ending!
And therein lies my problem. Because I don’t know if there is a book three or not! There should be, though. Because Colm and Aiden’s story is not yet done. They don’t have that happy ever after they have been chasing since the dawn of time. And they NEED it, they really do. I also want to know what part the others (again, not saying who!) play in them getting that happy ever after.
So, please, Mr. Stone, book three???
Even though it’s a weak first person, single POV, a much more engaging and interesting read than book one.