This novel’s journey spans nearly fifteen years, so buckle up—this is going to take a while.
First and foremost, let me thank my supportive parents and the large and loving Loudin family for never thinking I was crazy for wanting to write a novel. Of course, my siblings Sierra, John, and Case knew I was crazy, but they told me to keep going anyway. Sierra was one of my very earliest alpha readers, back when this novel had nothing at all to do with any Ageless. Thanks, sis!
I owe the term transmelder to my father, an avid science fiction fan who read me H.G. Wells as a child. I remember many joyful trips to both town libraries with my mother over the years as I progressed from the children’s section, to the young readers’ section, and finally into those vaunted adult shelves. My mother also helped me finally settle on Dalan as the main character’s name.
Huge thanks to Lindsay Hurley for providing feedback long before I started writing what would become the final incarnation of this novel. She helped me brainstorm who the antagonists might be and why they might conflict, even with each other.
I’d especially like to thank Liz Fidler for getting me back into writing during a three-year lull after college. If she hadn’t jump-started my creativity again, I’m not sure I would’ve had the fortitude to give this novel one more chance.
Throughout my childhood and early years as a young writer, various teachers and professors both encouraged me and gave me the tough love I needed. Though they often tried to expand my writing horizons outside the genre as well as into short fiction, it turns out I really am a genre novelist. Thanks goes to Dolores Boyles, Melissa Cupp, Dr. Kathleen Ochshorn, and Dr. Mary Jane Schenck for all the writing advice, to Dr. Martin Favata for expanding my cultural horizons, and most of all to Dr. Richard Mathews for letting me take his science fiction course twice so I could keep writing to my passions.
Many thanks to the talented writers I met in various writing groups. Daniel Evans, Nathaniel Lee, and Rocky Williams for encouraging me to keep going. Blair Peery, Dan Gallagher, and Erin Ryan for finding the good in very rough draft and helping me realize this story needed more than a dash of scifi to go with its fantasy. Darin Kennedy, Jay Requard, and J. Matthew Saunders for slogging through the early chapters of my first completed draft. Their insights proved invaluable in shaping the final novel.
Big thanks to everyone from Charlotte Writers, coffee and pastry lovers that they are, for keeping me motivated to write. Special thanks to John G. Hartness for his off-the-cuff publishing and marketing advice.
This novel wouldn’t be nearly so awesome without the help of my fabulous beta readers, Terence S. Thomas, CM Stewart, Crystal Loudin Jones, Chuck Loudin, Nelly Micholt, Beth Hufnagel, Joelle Karout, and James Todd Haney. Special thanks to Terence for his guidance through Goodreads, and Crystal for reading this monstrous novel from start to finish twice!
A special note of appreciation goes to Nico Paloceropalo, Paul McNeil, Lorena Lombardo, and @AskSpanishBoss for help on Soledad’s Spanish.
I’m grateful my developmental editor, Annetta Ribken, helped me realize Zen needed to be even more of an antagonist. She helped me strengthen so many aspects of the novel that I can’t possibly list them all. DongWon Song went above and beyond to spot continuity problems and even a lingering developmental issue or two.
And the biggest thanks of all goes to my loving husband Dorian, who always kept me going with encouragement and assurances through round after round of revisions. I’m looking forward to many more adventures together.
Thank you, everyone, for all the encouragement and support.