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Can the Great American Novel be a Fantasy?
Best-Selling/Award-Winning Author of Shorts Releases First Novel
San Diego, CA — July 1, 2023 — Best-Selling author of short fiction, Lazarus Black, releases his debut novel The True Dragon of Atlanta at Comic-Con International this Summer, following his three awards for Science Fiction/Fantasy in 2022, including Writers of the Future, the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Science Fiction of 2022, and the IPPY Gold Medal for Science Fiction of 2022.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous Writers of the Future winners Dave Wolverton and Patrick Rothfuss, Lazarus intends to spin his early success in short fiction into a notable career in novels, but he’s starting with something unique. The True Dragon of Atlanta may be his first – but might also be his opus.
“I won’t compare myself to the greats, but I have done everything I could to climb on their shoulders,” says Lazarus. “Lord of the Rings and Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land have one thing in common: they weren’t written as popcorn fiction. They meant something. They expressed meaning inside their pages. When I started this journey to write, I didn’t know where it would lead or how far I would get. I decided that, if there was only one novel I would complete in my lifetime, which one do I want to be remembered for? What if I were Harper Lee?”
But Lazarus isn’t Harper Lee. He writes Magical Realism and Fantasy and Science Fiction. And the world of publishing is vastly different than 60 years ago.
“Publishers have always looked for the next big thing, but they can’t afford the risk of a book not selling. They make decisions based on what has already sold and—in some cases—what they wish would sell. I’ve heard that Dune was rejected by every publisher until Frank Herbert convinced a phone book company to take a chance on it. Heinlein had to build a reputation in children’s lit (we’d call it Middle Grade today) before successfully wrestling a publisher to let him try something for adults. Today, self-publishing is finally a viable option for authors. Self-publishing means I can take the risk on a something meaningful that I would be proud to be remembered for.”
Lazarus deliberately tackles personal and social issues in The True Dragon of Atlanta. In an alternate reality of Atlanta, Georgia, an adult woman struggling with all the complexities of life is thrust into an ancient conflict between a psychotic dragon and the chaos of humanity. And when she gains magical powers—nothing gets easier. Now this might sound like the premise to many Urban Fantasy novels, but this is where the story deviates. The True Dragon Bell is a great magical weapon that will strip away humanities’ filters and force them to only act as their true selves. May Ling is the anti-hero who understands the value of lies and the preservation of the world’s wrinkles while the villain, the ancient dragon Golden Lotus, despises all pretense and the world ironed flat. The story explores both sides, weaving those narratives through the point of views of minor characters as May builds a found family of outcasts and fallen people and even other villains to keep the world weird.
“People who don’t read the genre hold this strange stigma that Fantasy can’t have any value. That its messages are all visceral or even trite. But explored war beyond glory and even PTSD. Anne Rice wrote about non-traditional families. Heinlein and Pratchett and Ursula K. Le Guin virtually lectured on how the world should be a better place and how people can achieve it. I want people to consider themselves and each other. To me that’s the first step in this process.”
After graduating The Prairie School of Racine, WI, Lazarus spent an entire career in New York City in art & advertising before embarking on a career in writing. He credits his Prairie experience for gifting him friends from across the world and every segment of humanity. Lazarus draws on many cultures for True Dragon, though it’s all based in this alternate United States. He brings immigrants and mixed cultures and even mixed species together to tell stories about the human condition, using sci-fi and fantasy and even light horror to share his belief in One Family-One World.
Writers of the Future awarded Lazarus his First Place Award in 2022. Judges included Best-Selling authors Brandon Sanderson, Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland (aka David Wolverton), and Jody Lynn Nye. Robert J. Sawyer, the recipient of no less than four lifetime achievement awards for science fiction said, “Lazarus Black is a terrific writer with an irresistible flare." Fans and the writing community have been eagerly awaiting his first epic novel. His volume of Writers of the Future has gone on to become a Best Seller and has won two Gold “Best of Science Fiction” awards by itself. His story “Psychic Poker” anchors the compendium.
Lazarus will be signing paperback copies of The True Dragon of Atlanta at Comic-Con International is San Diego at its official release to the public on July 22, 2023. Most of the week, he will be selling and signing as Booth 4600 listed as Echo Chernik or Echo-X. His tour includes GenCon (Indianapolis, IN) in August and DragonCon (Atlanta, GA). He will also be signing books at Galaxy Press’s booths and at scheduled interviews.
All of Lazarus Black’s published stories can be found on his website https://lazarus.black where there are links to his own bookstore as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Goodreads.