Reaching For The Stars: Dylan Roche Pens Second Young Adult Fantasy Novel


During his senior year at the University of Maryland, Dylan Roche had a vivid dream: two servants, enslaved to a witch, were plotting their escape. Fifteen years later, that dream has manifested into Roche’s second young adult fantasy novel, “The Tide and the Stars,” published this June.

A Severna Park High School graduate, Roche shared the plot of his 420-page story during a book signing and conversation moderated by Park Books & LitColab events manager Sarah Rifield on June 11.

“‘The Tide and the Stars’ is about a farm boy named Marin who has grown up in search of a wicked witch, Ilth, and has no idea where he came from, or who his parents are, or how he came to be an orphan servant,” Roche said, “and then one day finds out there is another servant working for Ilth named Aster, and the two of them strike up a friendship and decide to escape the farm and seek their fortunes. And as they head off into the great wide world, they realize that one, the world is a lot more dangerous than they ever anticipated, and also that their destinies and their place in the world is a little bit bigger than they ever expected as well, that they have a bigger role to play in the future of the kingdom.”

The kingdom of Blunia is full of danger, from tyrannical kings and vengeful demigods to goblin armies and legendary monsters. But it also includes Princess Elspeth, who becomes Marin’s love interest.

“I do not want the fair princess to just be this object that the man has to rescue, and as I started giving her a little more autonomy in the story, she really came to life and became a character I never thought I would love as much as I did,” Roche said.

Like his first book, Roche’s newest release brings fantasy elements to life. His debut novel, “The Purple Bird,” came out in 2019. That tale centered on teenager James Shannassy and a figment bird named Archit. Together, they set off for the world of Nalgordia to break a centuries-old curse.

For Roche, an avid reader who became enamored with the works of Shakespeare and Charles Dickens in elementary school, it was a natural progression to become a storyteller.

“I always liked reading, and I think from a young age, I wanted to be a part of the great conversation,” Roche said. “I loved all the stories that I was consuming, so I wanted to put my own out into the world.”

He started “The Tide and the Stars” in 2019 and drafted it over five months. After two years of editing the manuscript, he submitted it to publishers.

“This was like creating stuff in layers where my first draft was very superficial, just trying to get the story out there, and then it was almost like I had a page of a coloring book, and as I went back and started revising, I had to add details and make it richer, make it more lively,” Roche said. “That was the part of the process where (the characters) came to life and I really got to know who they were on a much deeper level.”

Two Shakespeare quotes from “Julius Caesar” inspired Roche as he deliberated on a big theme in his story.

“Is our life predestined by what’s written in the stars or is our life this current that we need to set sail on when it’s in our favor?” he said. “I think I really needed to explore that a bit myself.”

He pondered that question as he embarked on a full-time freelance career following his time as editor of the Severna Park Voice. Not only is he a published author and journalist but Roche also is an actor, director, playwright, teacher, marathon runner and caretaker for a corgi named Tyrion.

Throughout his journey, he learned several lessons that he hopes to share with readers through the voices of his characters.

“I would want for them to learn the same lessons that the four kids in this book learn: it’s that your path in life is something that you need to find for yourself, but also that you do have the power and the capability to make a difference and to create something good in the world,” Roche said. “Because I think that the four of them – Marin, Aster, Elspeth and Carys – really come into their own as leaders and there’s a theme … What is leadership? What is justice? What is creating a better world than the world that you inherited?”

“The Tide & the Stars” is on sale at Park Books & LitColab, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.


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