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Dai’Ja Rose is a talented new author coming from Richmond, Virginia. Her debut novel, Golden Eyed Legend, a YA epic fantasy published this January, is the first part of a Legendary Stars Saga. The story follows follows Jai, an amnesiac blacksmith with hidden powers, who navigates a world filled with challenges and destiny’s weight.
In this interview, Dai’Ja will share more about her writing journey, the inspiration behind her fantasy series, and the themes of self-acceptance and resilience woven into her stories. Enjoy!
Golden Eyed Legend by Dai’Ja S. Rose
Q: Can you share a bit about yourself and your journey into writing, particularly in the fantasy genre for young adults?
A: I grew up in Richmond, Virginia as an only child. My mother taught me how to read starting at the ripe age of two. Ever since then, my love for reading exploded! I was reading to children my age and under at my public library at three years old.
My mother was a writer as well. She wrote poetry, specialty card verses, and short stories. When I was seven I started my first “book”. I had this old laptop my grandfather gave me with a notepad app. I would share my story with my parents and my father was so excited for my next installment!
Everyday I would work on a story about a world that was being taken over by poisonous snakes… that is until the old laptop died on me. I was homeschooling from 2nd grade through 8th grade. My homeschool curriculum took writing skills very seriously. When I went to public high school for 9th grade all things writing were easy for me. I won a Governor’s award in 10th grade for my essay writing. I also took up Creative Writing and Yearbook classes. My teacher for those classes was a great encouragement to continue to pursue writing regardless of what I pursued in college.
Fun fact: I got my start in fantasy and wrote the first version of the Legendary Stars series in my Creative Writing class.
Q: What inspired the creation of “Golden Eyed Legend”? Are there any personal experiences or influences that shaped the story?
A: I always knew I wanted to tell a story that would deeply inspire people. The greatest inspiration for my series, starting with Golden Eyed Legend was Avatar the Last Airbender. Personally, I believe it’s one of the greatest stories ever told! The feeling I felt watching Avatar was the feeling I wanted my readers to be left with after reading my books.
Q: How did the idea of a character like Jai, with amnesia and hidden powers, come to you?
A: I wanted to do something a bit different with my MMC. In a lot of books I’ve read the MMC is strong and powerful, he knows what he wants and who he is and is not. I wanted to show Jai as being a little unsure. He knows he’s not the strongest, but he wants to grow. Him being unable to remember his past helped me bring that to life.
Q: Can you describe your writing process? Do you have any specific rituals or habits that help you get into the creative zone?
A: My writing process is a mix between a plotter and a pantser. I use an outline as guardrails and then I have fun with it.
One thing that I spend a lot of time in is in what my world will be, developing lore, and I like to do character casting. I flesh out my characters personalities, roles, and how they move the story forward then lastly I choose a name for them. My habit would be starting on a blank document every time I begin writing. It’s like my mind knows exactly what belongs there and the creative juices flow.
Q: Given your background in Business Risk Management, how do you think it influences your approach to storytelling?
A: I believe my educational background makes me conscious about keeping some excitement, twists and turns in the story. I saw first hand how some classes turned lifeless by a monotone mumble jumble of information. It just makes me conscious that I am writing in a way that would be engaging to readers to the best of my ability.
Q: Your talk topics include finding success after multiple failures and resilience. How do these themes play out in “Golden Eyed Legend”?
A: These themes play out in an interesting way. In Jai’s world the Legends that came before his time were actually considered failures. The consequences of their actions Jai is thrust into picking up the pieces in addition to the nagging pressure of learning who he is.
Jai is afraid of being a failure. And multiple characters share similar concerns. They are young and trying to figure out life in their now tumultuous world. The fun part is watching every character grow and adapt to every challenge.
Q: The book explores self-acceptance, the weight of responsibility, and the pursuit of destiny. What do you hope readers will take away from these themes?
A: I hope that readers will learn that self-acceptance is important. Nowadays it is easy to want to be someone else – looks, accomplishment, material things, you name it.
However, self-discovery is a beautiful thing. So is accepting what you find and going on a journey to reinvent yourself into the best version of you. Only we are responsible for our own journey. I believe we all have a calling and the better we master ourselves, the better we can pursue our destiny.
Q: Your goal is to create rich coming-of-age stories with diverse, complex characters. How do you approach character development, especially in a fantasy setting?
A: I adore character development. I believe that characters should progress the plot and in turn the plot will continue to develop the characters. The characters are one of the most extensive part of my planning. I aim to have people see aspects of themselves in my characters.
Q: Can you share some insights into the creation of Jai and the challenges he faces in the story?
A: I created Jai from the desire to have a different flavor for a MMC in fantasy. His usual appearance is messy and unkept, he is struggling with his amnesia, and silencing wants something more than the life of a blacksmith in a run down town stricken with poverty. Despite all of these challenges, Jai has a great destiny as a Legend. He is destined to be a hero, he just has to figure out how to do it.
Q: How do you engage with your readers online, and what kind of content do you enjoy sharing with them?
A: I engage with my readers via my newsletter on my website as well as on TikTok. I like sharing snippets about the characters and the important themes in the book and well as sharing free short stories for email subscribers.
Q: Congratulations on your upcoming second book! Can you give us a sneak peek into what readers can expect from it?
The second book immediately follows the events of the first book. The main character for book two is Aqila, who is introduced in book one. We mainly follow Aqila in this book, but Jai is definitely on the scene. This book will introduce new territory (Waterbearer Tribes) and new characters. It’s another fun, fast paced read!
Q: Your target audience is teens and young adults. How do you ensure that your stories resonate with this demographic, and what feedback have you received from your readers so far?
I do my best to write stories that resonate with my readers. I try to integrate real world growing pains in my character’s development. There is a character for everyone! Strong, stubborn, meek, confident, smart, you name it there’s probably a character with those personality traits. I try to make the growth arcs realistic as well.
Regarding feedback, I would love more! So far, the feedback has been positive with the highlights being on the quality of the characters, fast-paced energy, worldbuilding, and the overall message. However, I would love to get more reader feedback 🙂
Q: Apart from writing, you enjoy mystery thrillers, baking, sewing, and resin art. Do any of these hobbies influence your writing or provide inspiration for your stories?
I would say that watching mystery thrillers influences my writing. I find it helpful to better understand strong storytelling inside and outside of my chosen genre. I believe mystery thrillers give me ideas on how to tell my stories more effectively.
Q: As we wrap up, what advice do you have for aspiring authors, especially those looking to break into the young adult fantasy genre?
Read books within that genre to get familiar with what young adult fantasy should feel like. Then hone the craft of writing. Your first few pieces may not be that great, but that’s okay. It’s all a part of the journey. Keep writing, keep pushing yourself to write even when you don’t feel like it will amount to anything. Focus on finding that rhythm that works for you. Also, have fun! This is your story. No one else will be able to tell your story like you, so let nothing discourage you, don’t quit on yourself!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers and potential new fans?
I would like to share that I am still learning. This is my debut book and I am so happy that I did it. However, I am still learning – striving to be a better storyteller with each book. I am excited to engage with all of you! I want to hear your thoughts and theories on what is to come. I am looking forward to growing with everyone!
Happy reading! ❤️