Utah author Bree Despain always loved writing, and as a child would create her own "novels" with folded papers stapled together.
However, Despain suffers from a reading disability. Luckily, in middle school, her remedial reading teacher decided the best way to help her students was to encourage them to write.
During the class, her teacher requested Despain read a story she wrote in front of the other students, which was extremely nerve-wracking for Despain. But after it was over, the teacher gave her an A+ and told Despain she should become an author.
"I was so happy to get that grade, but I thought, 'Someone like me can't be an author,'" Despain said.
It wasn't until years later that Despain began to believe in her abilities as a writer, though at this point she was halfway through school for a pre-law undergraduate degree. And even a few years after this epiphany, she still hadn't published anything.
Then she got into a terrible car accident and was almost killed. This changed everything for her.
"The two things I would've regretted the most were not being here to be a mother for my son and I never finished my book and became an author like I always wanted to," Despain said.
After that, her husband brought home a refurbished laptop, and she decided from that point forward to be a stay-at-home mom and a writer.
On the sixth anniversary of that car accident, she sold her debut novel, which was part of a trilogy called The Dark Divine. And she just released a new book as a conclusion to her second trilogy, Into the Dark.
“The Immortal Throne” (Carolrhoda Books, $18.99, ages 14 and up), the third novel in Despain’s Into the Dark series, begins in the nail-biting scene where the second book, “The Eternity Key,” finishes.
Haden, an Underworld prince stripped of his title, is banished to the mortal world and has very little time left before a poison destroys him. The only way he can live is if Daphne, his one true love, seals her attempts at healing him with a kiss, but she can’t because she ate something from the underworld and is now being forced to live as their queen and cannot leave.
Garrick, Haden’s half-brother, revealed that he had a plan all along to become the king of the Underworld and is working with the dangerous creatures called Keres to ultimately destroy the world with Daphne as his queen. Somehow, Daphne has to escape this impossible situation and save Haden and the world.
"The Immortal Throne" details the destinies of these young heroes and villains with twists, suspense and action until the final pages.
Despain's inspiration for this series came from the popular song, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," by Death Cab for Cutie.
"For me, the song was about being willing to follow someone into the unknown for the sake of love," Despain said. "And then on the flip side I would think, 'What would it be like for the person who has to ask someone to go into the unknown?'"
She likens this to the relationship of Haden and Daphne, who both have to overcome their own personal issues to decide if they'll follow each other into the dark.
Despain drew on popular stories from Greek mythology, especially the stories of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice, to create the plot and form her characters. Haden was one of her favorite characters to create.
"I had so much fun with him because I don't know what it's like to be a prince of the underworld, but I know what it's like to be a fish out of water," Despain said.
She loved to be able to describe the world through his lens, especially because he was a boy who had never met a girl before meeting Daphne.
Despain’s unique chapter development and transitions help build suspense throughout “The Immortal Throne.” Three characters, Haden, Daphne and Tobin, give first-person narratives as the chapters are told through one of their perspectives.
The trilogy is engaging and thought-provoking, with moments of humor, intensity and love littered throughout the novels. Despain certainly knows how to tell a story that grips readers from the first book to the last.
Despain is working on a middle grade novel with her husband about time travel and adventure. She said writing this novel is a family affair, with her two boys discussing ideas and plot development, as well as designing diagrams of weapons that will make appearances throughout the book. She hopes to start working on production of this book in 2017.
“The Immortal Throne” contains no sexual content; however, there are violent scenes that end in death and sparse mild language throughout the novel.
If you go ...
What: Bree Despain book signing
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East
When: Tuesday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
Note: The signing line is for those who buy a copy of the featured book from The King's English.