Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Q&A with Justin Dennis, Author of the New YA/Fantasy Novel, “Through the Portal”

What is this book about?

Jem, the quiet and shy boy, is persuaded to go scuba-diving by his very loud and outgoing friend, Oliver, and they end up being sucked through an underwater portal to another world. Here they encounter a strange man who almost gets them killed by a dragon, but luckily they are saved by Sierra, a quiet farm girl who secretly practices magic despite the fact that it’s illegal. After learning that the Veroci Regime has banned magic and is terribly oppressing the people, Jem, Oliver, and Sierra set off on a quest across the world to stop the Veroci Regime. But the dragon who almost killed them is angry and looking for them... Can they defeat the Regime before the dragon catches up with them?

How did you get the idea for this book?

Well, I got the idea for this whole trilogy before the first book. You see, there is a much larger picture to this whole story of Jem Surwae that you really only get a glimpse of in the first book with the Dragon and the Phoenix. Really, it all started with them. I love Dragons and Phoenixes. I think they’re fascinating and fun, and I love the ability to fly. So it’s really their story, and the rest just sort of came together around them.

Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?

Yes, this is my first book, but it’s certainly not my last. I have two more books in this trilogy, which I am ecstatic to get written down! After that, though, I’ve got even more ideas bubbling for books. I just want to write for the rest of my life!

When did you start writing?

Kind of ever since I can remember. As a young, young kid, I would draw pictures of weird random creatures that my parents compared to Pokemon at the time, and would write stories incorporating them. I’m a terrible, terrible artist, though. Really, I can’t draw for anything. I think my story telling, though, is much better, and I just learned to develop it. I didn’t take a real crack at a novel until high school, and that book was garbage so I scratched it. But this book, Through the Portal, finally came together in my senior year, and I loved it.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Have patience. Writing a novel won’t happen in a day. Or a week. Maybe a month if you do nothing but write. My book took me a year. It really is difficult to have the patience to write so much without knowing if it will really become anything... But rest assured that if you set your heart to it, you can make it happen. Just keep at it. And edit your book at least forty-six trillion times. And then have others edit it. It will help a lot!

Why did you decide to write a book for young adults?

Honestly because I think it’s the perfect genre -- the best of both worlds. YA books can be simple and clean enough for children, but have underlying plots and character development that are complex enough for adults to be intrigued by.

Do you plan a sequel or future books?

Definitely! Two more books. Keep an eye out for them. ;)

Do you have a website?

Yes, you can follow my blog at or like me on facebook at

How can we order this book?


Barnes and Noble:



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