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Celebrating POC Authors in Fantasy: Debra Renée Byrd

Debra Renée Byrd is an author from Dover, Delaware who has been writing stories since she was seven years old. She graduated from Temple University with a BA in English.


Interview with Debra Renée Byrd

What genre(s) do you write in?

YA/NA Fantasy and Speculative Fiction

When did you decide that you wanted to write in your Genre?

I had a very vivid dream that I wrote down to show my younger sister, and it turned into this huge project that made me realize I love writing fantasy.

What things in your life do you draw inspiration from?

My dreams tend to turn into my first pages. I also draw inspiration from different cultures and looking at others' family dynamics and relationships. I'm a very visual person, so movies and video games also help inspire my writing.

What is the purpose of your writing? Is there a specific message that you hope to convey?

I want to give readers an escape and hopefully show them stories that haven't yet been told, or at least in the way I tell them.

How much of yourself is reflected in your writing?

I think I put everything in my head onto paper when I'm writing. Each character will have one of my personality traits or quirks, not always on purpose.

What can readers expect to see from you in the next year? Any new releases, features, or celebrations?

I'm currently working on the sequel to my debut novel, Fractured Princess. It may not be out next year, but hopefully in the next 2 or 3.


Jonnie is the last princess of the Crystal Bearers, once a powerful people.

When she was a baby, the metal army destroyed what was left of them, and now it is hunting her. Her watchmen keep her just out of the metal army’s reach, but she has spent her seventeen years running and hiding. Instead of standing by while her watchmen keep risking their lives for her, she decides to learn how to fight alongside them. On the journey to hone her skills, long hidden secrets about her people reveal a connection between the Crystal Bearers and the metal army that only fuels Jonnie's will to defeat it. But the more she learns about her own powers, the more she realizes she may be responsible for the metal army – and the destruction of her people.

From the book:

The soft click of the Oculus wakes me after midnight. Its bulb brightens and flushes my room in gold. My heart pounds as I sit up. The low buzz of engines thrums in the air, but I try to will myself calm. Gold means Contagion are near, only near. The Oculus will change back. It has to.

That is what I tell myself. In actuality, it doesn’t have to at all. It remains gold as the engines come closer. I throw my covers off and scramble out of bed. I’m not waiting to see what the Oculus will tell me next.

As I run from my bedroom, blue light floods my peripheral, and a cold terror threatens to paralyze me.

They’re here.

Not again.

Cyan scoops me into his arms before I even see him. He races toward the West Parlor, Laris only paces behind. Windows rush past us as the roof creaks and snaps beneath the weight landing on it. Plaster, clay, and beams fall with a heavy crash, and with them a black mass that shakes the floor beneath us. I bite my lip to keep from screaming. Its back is to us, but it turns just as we enter the parlor. Cyan dashes across the room to the wicker closet and sets me on my feet. The machine’s footsteps draw closer. Laris is already crouched and opening the trapdoor in the floor. He waves for me to climb down, and I eagerly obey, Cyan close behind me.

“Laris, hurry,” I whisper once we are both on the ground.

He pulls the door closed as he steps inside, his hand immediately moving to the latch to secure our hiding place. Before he can, heavy footsteps jar him from the ladder. I leap forward as he crumbles to the ground, and though Cyan pulls me back, I lurch out of his grasp and scramble back up the ladder. Air brushes my face from the unlatched door, lifted just high enough to be noticed.

Just as I pull it tight, silence replaces the thunderous footsteps above us. My entire body freezes. I grip the door so tightly my knuckles ache. I stare at it, hold my breath. Cyan and Laris must be doing the same; the silence is absolute.

It won’t find us. There is only a closet now. It can’t find us. It can’t.

I can’t stay there forever waiting for it to leave. I reach up with my other hand, slowly push the bolt into its cleats. I fear the machine may hear the scraping of metal on metal, which is all my terrified ears can hear now. Howbeit, as Cyan pulls me from the ladder, the footsteps above us resume and move farther away from us. I exhale as Cyan sets me back on my feet then guides me down the tunnel. My nursemaids, having escaped through the secret passage in the Eastern Parlor, are huddled together in the center of the cellar. Laris crosses the room in quick, silent strides to quiet their shaky whimpers and sniffles. I drop down on the edge of a cot and close my eyes.

This isn’t happening.

Fear, adrenaline, and dread form a lump in my throat that refuses to be swallowed. The layers of stone and plaster above us mute the blasts of the machines’ steam exhausts, but dust rains down on us with each tremor of something crashing or collapsing. The Contagion are destroying our home, and there is nothing we can do to stop them. I cry into my hands, feel the cot dip and Laris’s arm come around my shoulders.

We’re going to have to run again.


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