I first “met” author Jean Lee virtually in the Spring of 2016, when my second book published. We quickly struck up a Twitter friendship and soon after a collegial working relationship, trading manuscripts back and forth for comment and critique. She impressed me immediately with her wit, her sincerity, and her talent, so much so that I encouraged her to write Middler’s Pride, a short middle-grade fantasy novel about a young girl in a medieval fantasy world struggling to live her own life despite the demands of her family and culture.
I’m honored to call Jean Lee my friend, thankful for the several bags of coffee beans she’s been kind enough to share with me, and proud to announce that her debut novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, from Aionios Books, is now here.
Over the Wall, they came to hunt humans.
But now, a human’s going to hunt them.
This girl’s nobody’s prey.
Fallen Princeborn: Stolen
In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shapeshifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.
Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte is running away with her younger sister Anna. Together they board a bus. Little do they know that they’re bound for River Vine—a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shapeshifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.
Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is the first in a series of young-adult dark-fantasy novels by Jean Lee. Read Tales of the River Vine, a collection of free short stories based on the characters in Fallen Princeborn.
Kirkus Reviews calls Fallen Princeborn: Stolen “A suitably beguiling and unsettling first book in a series that promises deeper, darker escapism.”
Who is Jean Lee?
Jean Lee is a Wisconsin born and bred writer excited to share her young-adult fiction with those who love to find other worlds hidden in the humdrum of everyday life. Her first novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, debuted in November 2018, from Aionios Books. She also blogs regularly about the fiction, music, and landscapes that inspire her as a writer (https://jeanleesworld.com/). You can find Jean on her site, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the handle @jeanleesworld.
In Jean Lee’s Own Words
I started telling stories before I knew how to write them, filling pages with pictures and audio cassettes with words. This passion for storytelling grew every year to become not only my focus of graduate study, but also an escape from abuse and savior from postpartum depression. That savior has since transformed into the young-adult dark fantasy Fallen Princeborn: Stolen.
Stories are the fire that warms the soul. They melt fear, ignite hope, and spark relationships like nothing else. I’m honored you seated yourself here by my hearth to enjoy my fiction’s light. Please feel free to visit often, for there are many treasures bizarre and fantastic in my imagination waiting to speak with tongues of flame. Then we can talk about the writers that refuel us, and the stories that stir us like marshmallow sticks poking a campfire’s embers. Let’s send the fire’s sparks flying like so many fireflies into summer’s night, and invite more out of the cold darkness.
Q: How does Wisconsin inspire you as a writer?
JL: Wisconsin breeds the fantastic.
We are home to peculiar, toothsome beasts like the Hodag, devourer of all-white bulldogs.
We are home to unique, word-some writers like Neil Gaiman: “There’s that tiny off-kilter nature in the Midwest that’s in the details,” he says when asked about writing here.
We are home to hidden towns, small growths of community where railroads and highways meet, places that no one finds unless they mean to find it. Picturesque, perhaps? Plainfield was indeed picturesque once—until Ed Gein was arrested in November of 1957. You may know the rest. Basically, Gein inspired many of the fictional horror icons we know today: Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill are all rooted in the reality of Ed Gein.
We drove through the wild patches between the hidden towns often when I was a child. I never tried to occupy myself with books or toys in the car. There was too much to see, out there in those scattered homesteads, too much to wonder about. What happened inside that dying barn? Why is that gravel drive roped off, and where does it lead? Where are all the people for those rusted cars littering the field?
This is the Wisconsin I live in now. The land dips and rises in unexpected places. The trees may crowd a rural highway so much you can lose yourself driving, only to have the tunnel burst open to sunshine and a white-crested river running beneath a bridge you’d swear had never seen a car before. In the small farming town of my youth, I could stand on the lone highway through town and hear snowflakes land beneath the orange street lights.
Q: How does the American Midwest inspire you as a writer?
It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”
The adventures of Sherlock Holmes resonate deeply with me for two reasons. First, they were dearly loved by my father, who would, on a rare evening when he could delay his church work, read a story aloud to me at bedtime. I still remember the thrill as he described Dr. Roylott’s fate in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” or the sadness in his voice when Watson discovers Holmes’ note by Reichenbach Falls. I devoured these stories, despite my mother’s attempts to interest me in more child-friendly works such as the Little House books. Nothing doing, especially after I read “Copper Beeches,” for that brings me to my second reason: our town, our state, really, fit the description Holmes gave of England’s picturesque countryside.
Wisconsin is filled with hidden towns, small growths of community where railroads and highways meet, places that no one finds unless they mean to find it. Rock Springs was a town of 600 when I was a child, a little grain-fill stop for the railroad. We didn’t even have a gas station until I turned 5, and our library, a small portion of the town’s community center, could fit in a utility closet (it probably was a utility closet at one point). Farms and wild wood filled the gaps between towns. Unless, of course, you went towards Wisconsin Dells, where the wilderness is trimmed and prepped and ready for its mandatory closeup before the tourist rushes to the proper civilization of water parks and casinos.
We drove through those wild patches often. I never tried to occupy myself with books or toys in the car. There was too much to see, out there in those scattered homesteads, too much to wonder about. What happened inside that dying barn? Why is that gravel drive roped off, and where does it lead? Where are all the people for those rusted cars littering the field?
This is the Wisconsin I live in now. The land dips and rises in unexpected places. The trees may crowd a rural highway so much you can lose yourself driving, only to have the tunnel burst open to sunshine and a white-crested river running beneath a bridge you’d swear had never seen a car before. In Rock Springs, one could stand on the lone highway through town and hear snowflakes land beneath the orange street lights.
Want to Learn More?
Tales of the Rivervine is a collection of short stories available for free from Amazon that introduce you to the amazing world that Jean Lee has created.
And you can check out Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, the book that Moss Whelan of Gray Hawk of Terrapin calls: “Part psycho hitchhiker movie, part road trip to Rylyeh,” on Amazon.
So Get Thee to Amazon and Pick up this Amazing New Book by a Formidable Talent on the Fantasy Landscape!