Author Diane Magras’ on her journey from a kid recreating other writers’ work to weaving her own tales

Author Diane Magras Photo courtesy of Diane Magras

Growing up, Freeport author Diane Magras’ favorite pastime was recreating adventure stories read to her by her father. She realized she connected more with fiction when retelling it from her perspective of her as a child. Today, Magras tells stories in her own words. She is on the verge of publishing her third book, an action-packed fantasy adventure, “Secret of the Shadow Beasts.”

“I wanted to write a fantasy adventure,” she said. “My first two books are about historical adventures, and I wanted to add some magic.”

Secret of the Shadow Beasts focuses on children at the center of a contemporary fantasy world, Brannland, where shadow monsters, umbrae, emerge and decimate human beings at night. Only some children, like the protagonist, Nora Kemp, are immune to the venom of the umbra. However, that immunity fades as they get older, so these children are trained at a young age to combat the monsters.

Photo of Secret of the Shadow Beasts cover-art by Vivienne To-Photo contributed by Diane Magras

Kemp encountered the umbrae at age 12. After seeing the threat face to face, she decided to battle against the shadow beasts since her immunity heightened her chance of survival.

“In December 2019, I got the idea for the protagonist, Nora Kemp, a girl who grew up in rural poverty on a sheep farm and became the central character who helps defeat the monsters,” she said. “Once I had Nora in my mind, this turned into a story of empowerment for kids as pieces fell together.

“As I was going through the edits and revisions, I wanted to model a world where kids were respected for who they are and get to decide who they are,” Magras added. “So, in this book, I have a very diverse cast, ethnically, racially, and LGBTQ+ characters who play significant roles. I also felt strongly about celebrating gaming because gaming is one of those places where kids can be themselves, and it ended up being foundational for my protagonist as it plays a huge role in her life de ella. ”

With her first novel, “The Mad Wolf’s Daughter,” making her an award-winning author of the New York Times Editors’ Choice, a recipient of the Maine Library Association Lupine Award, and a Maine Student Book award nominee, Magras is hopeful that “Secret of the Shadow Beasts” will have a similar impact on readers.

“I want kids to come away knowing that every kid can be a hero,” she said. “I would love to sell as many as possible, honestly. We will have to wait and see how it does. I would love it to be a New York Times bestseller. I think that is every author’s dream.”

Magras’ third book will be published June 14 by Penguin Young Readers.

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