Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Book Spotlight! Jestin Kase and the Masters of Dragon Metal by J. Michael White ~ An Interview, Excerpt, and #Giveaway #JestinKaseAndTheMastersOfDragonMetal


Coming May 3rd!!

Jestin Kase and the Masters of Dragon Metal by J. Michael White
Teen & Young Adult Coming of Age Fantasy, 402 pages
Published May 3, 2022 by Teer Publishing

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In his fiction debut, award-winning journalist J. Michael White draws on his experience as a reporter to develop the world of his new urban fantasy novel, Jestin Kase and the Masters of Dragon Metal (May 3, 2022, Teer Publishing).

Mankind lost the battle for its soul without knowing. Evil won. And no Chosen Ones are coming to the rescue. Enter Jestin Kase, a foster kid on the run in Chicago. He finds himself drawn into the underbelly of civilization, where the Three Great Schools of Magic are crippled by their own corruption and unable to push back against the Great Dark. Monsters from Babylonian myth, demons, and the enthralled thrive beneath the notice of everyone. Only one force of good remains: an ancient magic called Dragon Metal. And Jestin is determined to learn its secrets.

But how much of a difference can one person make in a world that’s already fallen?

There’s no fate.

No destiny.

Only Metal. And those brave enough to wield it.



Apparently, the cops didn’t like it when you burned down your foster home. Who knew?

Police lights flashed across the dark streets as Jestin ran through the back alleys of Chicago. He pumped his legs as fast as he could, hopping over fences, dashing up and down fire escapes, and cutting across rooftops. His legs burned with fatigue, and his chest ached as his heart pounded.

Christ, I need to get back into shape.

No matter how fast he ran, the police sirens followed. He could hear at least three cars. Maybe four.

“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me,” he muttered, out of breath. Understaffed and underpaid, the cops rarely showed this level of persistence when they needed to give chase. They typically responded in an hour or two, if at all, and never followed Jestin’s trail for longer than a few minutes. Granted, he’d never burned down a house before—at least, not an entire house.

Jestin ducked into a tight alley and collapsed between a dumpster and a cluster of garbage cans. He leaned against the brick wall and breathed deeply, his pulse pounding so hard he could feel it in his neck.

Gradually, the siren sounds moved farther and farther away.

“Okay . . .” he whispered between breaths. “Okay . . . no more arson. Arson bad. Got it.”

His voice startled something. He heard a clang; a black cat hissed, bolted from a garbage can, and landed on the dumpster. The feline arched his back, raising his short hair and poofing his tail. He glared, more afraid than angry, trying to look tough . . . and failing. The cat had one of those cute teddy-bear faces—hard to find that frightening.

Jestin sighed at the cat’s sad attempt to scare him. “That’s an impressive, bushy tail you have there. I’m very intimidated.” The cat breathed another hiss. Jestin nodded. “Yes, yes. You’re very fearsome. But I need to crash here for a sec, okay?”

Jestin curled up on the ground and crossed his arms over his chest, scrunching his black winter jacket, worn over a gray hoodie. Sweat dripped down his forehead, chilling in the winter air and wetting his shaggy brown bangs. He shuffled his legs, trying to get comfortable. Cold air seeped into the rips and tears in his faded jeans and worn sneakers—his big toe slipped through a hole in his right shoe.

Slowly, Jestin glanced up at the feline. Hair bristled down the black cat’s spine, and his golden-brown eyes stared from a face as terrorizing as a child’s stuffed animal.

“Oh, calm down. I’m Jestin, by the way. Fifteen. Orphan on the run. I don’t suppose you have a name?”

The cat rumbled a soft growl.

“Growly McHissy-Face? Nice to meet you.”

Another quick hiss.

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.”

The cat walked slowly in a circle, hopped onto the pavement, and stared at Jestin, staying crouched and ready to pounce if needed. Then he lowered his tail, still cautious, but not aggressive.

“See? We’re fine,” Jestin said. “Well . . . at least you’re fine. I’m royally screwed.”

Jestin told Growly McHissy-Face his story, because why not?

Jestin had spent the past three weeks living in the basement of a foster home, where kids crammed together in bunk beds and sleeping bags. Their foster father cared little for them. As part of the system’s private sector, the man got paid per kid. So instead of children, he saw dollar signs and treated his charges no better than farmers treated livestock.

“I didn’t like the guy. So I burned his house down,” Jestin said. “Totally logical.”

The cat tilted his head. He looked inquisitive instead of afraid but still kept all fours beneath his body so he could spring away if needed. Something about Jestin’s voice seemed to calm the feline, so the boy kept talking.

“What?” Jestin said with a shrug. “Okay, yeah, it was stupid and impulsive. You’re right. You get me, Growly McHissy-Face. You really get me.”

Unfortunately, Jestin didn’t think far enough ahead. He had no idea what to do or where to go next. Not to mention, he may or may not have needed a psych evaluation. See, he didn’t burn down the house just because the foster dad was a prick (that didn’t help his case, though). Jestin learned something about the man, something that sounded crazy.

He was a thrall.

Jestin called the man that because he was enthralled by a demon’s influence. Empty and pathetic, the foster father fed off the loneliness and despair of the kids under his care. The man’s greed empowered him, twisted him into a soulless pawn of chaos—not exactly something Jestin could explain to the cops or his social worker.

“So I took care of him myself,” Jestin said. “Why? Because no one else would.” Besides, the man wasn’t human anymore; a thrall was a monster on the inside, evil, beyond saving, not a person, not even alive in the traditional sense. Killing a thrall wasn’t taking a life, it was saving the lives of others.

The boy rolled his hands into fists at the memory. Ugh, I’m too young to feel this old. Can I retire yet? Is that an option?

“Maybe I’ll just move in with you,” Jestin said to the cat, extending his hand slowly, palm up. “Would you like the company?”

Reluctantly, the cat stretched his body forward, moving his nose closer and closer to Jestin’s fingers, sniffing the boy’s hand until he got several good whiffs, his whiskers prickling Jestin’s skin. Then he rubbed the side of his face against the boy’s palm and started to purr like a boat engine.

“See? Everything’s fine. I’m safe. Definitely not crazy. Definitely not sitting in the trash talking to an alley cat . . .” Sometimes I hate my life.

The cat sprang up the boy’s arm, climbed around his neck, and dropped into his hoodie, using it like a hammock. Jestin snorted a laugh. “Make yourself at home.”

Suddenly, Jestin heard a shuffle from the shadows. The cat snapped his head around and perked his ears. Jestin stayed as still as possible. At first, he thought the shuffle belonged to another cat. But the steps sounded too heavy. And human.

“Son of a mother,” he muttered.


An Interview with J. Michael White

1. How did you develop the character of Jestin? Why did you give him the background of a foster kid? 

I wanted a humorous, sarcastic, likeable teenager to balance the bleak background of the story. I also wanted to use Jestin as a vehicle to highlight the problems with the foster care system (my original idea for Jestin was “Oliver Twist but with demons”). Further, as a member of the LGBT community myself, I wanted the same for Jestin, but without making the story about his sexuality, something I don’t see often with LGBT representation. 

2. Why did you set the book in Chicago?

I grew up in northwest Indiana, which is more a part of Chicago than the Hoosier state, and I’ve always loved the character of the city. It was important for me to set the story in a Midwestern city, because I wanted the story to take place in the heartland, the heart of the country. 

3. How did you develop the idea of the Three Great Schools of Magic?

The Three Great Schools of Magic represent the state of spirituality in our world today. There are people who pervert and twist religion for greed and selfish purposes, to spread hate and to amass power. This is what the Three Great Schools represent.

4. You have a background in journalism -- where your job is to report on reality. Was it difficult to shift your writing focus to fiction / urban fantasy? How did you go about this? 

I’ve written fiction stories for my own enjoyment since I was in grade school, so the shift from journalism to fiction was pretty simple. If anything, my newspaper writing skills helped craft my fiction writing style. Also, I’ve seen some crazy things in this real world of ours, and that’s helped me build my fictional characters’ backgrounds. 

5. This is your first novel -- what inspired you to write it now?

I’ve wanted to write a book for years; I actually left the newspaper business to free up my creativity to focus on fiction. But I still never found the time to write--until the pandemic. Like many people, I’ve been working from home since COVID, and without a morning or evening commute, I have up to a couple hours of extra free time a day that I use for writing. 

6. You make a distinction between traditional dystopian futures and the worlds you create in your writing. Can you explain what this is and why you chose this approach?

I wanted to highlight the dystopia of the world we live in today instead of creating a traditional, make-believe dystopian future. Look at the state of things in our world: class warfare, poverty, sickness, corruption, homelessness, division--one could argue we’re already living in a “dystopian future” in the real world of today. 

About the author

J. Michael White is an award-winning journalist and author of young adult urban fantasy action-adventure stories. His career as a newspaper reporter gave him deep glimpses into the challenges of the world, from the struggles of foster care to the tragedies of murder and war. His fiction often reflects these experiences. 

Instead of setting his stories in alternate, dystopian futures, he looks at the dystopia of the world we live in today, through the lens of urban fantasy and adventure, with a little dark humor. Like all responsible adults, he spends his time playing video games, reading books, and watching cartoons. ~ Publicist

Connect with Jason

Twitter (@JMichael_White)
Instagram (@thejmichaelwhite)
TikTok (@the_jmichaelwhite)

I have a print copy of this beautiful book for the winner. I want to send a huge 'Thank You' shout-out to Books Forward - Literary Publicity for the copy!

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