Photo credit: Jay d’Lacey
Best-selling author Chris d'Lacey was born in Malta. He has published twenty-two books, including nine novels. His books have been widely translated and his first children's novel, Fly, Cherokee, Fly, was highly commended for the Carnegie Medal. Other titles include The Salt Pirates of Skegness, A Break in the Chain, and From E to You.
Writing was not d'Lacey's first career choice. "I never had plans to be a writer," he says. "When I was in my teenage years my dream was to be a famous songwriter. It wasn't until my early thirties that I tried my hand at any sort of fiction. I kicked off with a gentle 'Christmassy' story that grew, alarmingly, into a 250,000 word adult saga about polar bears. I realized then I had the writing bug." After he wrote his first story, he waited seven years to write another. "Then a friend told me about a competition to write a story for young children," states d'Lacey. "I wasn't going to have a go at first -- until I found out the first prize was £2000. So I started scribbling, fast!" The story, entitled A Hole at the Pole, didn't win the award, but he sent the story to a publisher and they accepted it.
The Fire Within, published in the United States by Orchard Books, is the magical story about mysterious hand-crafted clay dragons that have unusual powers. d'Lacey's inspiration was a craft shop that sold clay dragons. He fell in love with the dragons, but he didn't have enough money to buy one, so the owner pointed him to a section of the store reserved for dragons that have been chipped. "They were a bit cheaper than the other dragons but no less beautiful," says d'Lacey. "And it was there that I saw the most appealing creature in the whole shop. He had a slight chink out of one foot and his 'topknot' was missing (a 'topknot' is on the top of a dragon's head and looks a bit like a shark's fin) but I bought him in an instant." d'Lacey felt that he need a magical name, so he called him Gadzooks. Chris alternates writing with full-time employment at Leicester University. He lives in Leicester with his wife, Jay. Icefire, Fire Star, The Fire Eternal, Dark Fire, and Fire World round out this dragon series, and are also published by Orchard Books.