These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign has launched! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!

eSpec Books interviews Ty Drago, author of the novel Rags.

eSB: This is a unique book and somewhat difficult to define cleanly. How would you classify Rags, and why?

TD: It’s a fair question. On its surface, Rags is horror. There’s plenty of blood and plenty of scares. But on a deeper level, it’s a twisted coming-of-age tale. There’s a subtext of teenage empowerment and burgeoning power that smack of an origin story as well.

eSB: Without spoilers, how did you come up with the idea for the novel?

TD: I’m a Jersey Boy, born and raised. I grew up visiting the Jersey Shore, including Atlantic City. I remember Steel Pier. I saw the diving horse and walked in many of the places that Abby does in the book. In a lot of respects, Atlantic City today is a ghost of its former glory. There’s a sadness to the place that, when I visit, always calls out to me. I often find it a city of desperation and forced smiles as less and less of it returns with each passing year.

Strolling at night on the boardwalk, with the ocean roaring in the darkness and the casinos rising like monoliths against the sky, one can easily imagine a dark avenger moving through the shadows, looking for… what? Some shred of the once-glorious past of “America’s Playground?” A fading memory of music and laughter that isn’t accompanied by the bells and curses of the gambling floor?

Anyway, that’s more or less how Rags was born.

eSB: Your main protagonist is Abby, a teenage girl, what about the story inspired you to write from a perspective so different than your own? What challenges did you face in capturing the authentic feel you managed?

TD: There’s the old adage of “write what you know.” And I agree, to a point. More and more, however, I find myself asking, “But where’s the fun in that?”

Why did I write a novel told from the perspective of an orphaned sixteen-year-old girl from the streets? I guess because I wanted to see if I could. Pushing your own boundaries is, or should be, what art is all about. I poured everything I could into making Abby as authentic as possible. It wasn’t always easy. Since I had pretty much zero personal experience to draw on, I had to instead look to articles and novels about inner city life, especially works written in the early 1980s. Abby and her foster family were born from what I found there.

eSB: Do you foresee writing more stories with this character or in this world? Whichever your answer, why?

TD: Rags is a stand-alone book. That said, it has the “hook” for a sequel in it. But don’t ask me what such a sequel would look like. Should I ever find myself in a position to consider writing one, the story would have to be much more than simply “The Further Adventures of Rags.” I would need to find a new and (hopefully) unexpected way to sharpen my avenger’s edge, if you’ll pardon the pun.

eSB: Rags felt very much like a superhero origin story to me. Was that intentional and is there a reason behind the choices that lead to that?

TD: As I said earlier, I think Rags is definitely an origin story, of a sort. But I don’t think “superhero” applies. Rags is a creature of violence, too dark a character to even qualify as an anti-hero, at least as the term is typically understood. I wanted to avoid “redeeming” Rags. Instead, I tried to use him to explore the darkness inherent in all of us. No spoilers, though!

eSB: The novel takes place in Atlantic City, in the early 1980’s, how much of your personal experience did you draw on to recreate such an iconic city, and how much was research?

TD: When I’d resolved myself to telling this story, I went to the Atlantic City Library. There, I partnered with a librarian and, for some hours, the two of us poured over old newspapers and magazines. There’s surprisingly little documentation from the period just prior to the blaze that destroyed Steel Pier in December of 1982. What I’ve written is cobbled together from old brochures, tourist maps of the pier, and from forgotten articles in forgotten publications.

eSB: Have you ever incorporated aspects of your own experiences in your fiction? Tell us about it.

TD: I don’t know about “experiences.” Frankly, if some of the “experiences” in my novels had happened to me personally… well, that would be pretty awful!

That said, I do pay homage to people in my life. For example, in the Undertakers Series, the female lead, Helene Boettcher, is named after my wife. And some of the kids are named for children I grew up with. In Dragons, my SF novel that came out last year, Andy is named for my son and Kim and Shelton are named for my daughter and son-in-law. In the new one I’m writing, the heroine is named after a dear friend.

eSB: What haunts you as an author?

TD: These days? Pretty much nothing. But for a long time, I dealt with the angst of having to keep a day job and still pursue my true calling. It’s an old song in the writing world: you can’t make a living writing, but you don’t want to make a living doing anything else!

But, now that I’m retired and writing full-time, I guess you could say I’ve finally overcome that hurtle. I feels good, and I pay back whatever fates have given me this opportunity by being as prolific as I possibly can.

eSB: You are also the author of the Undertakers series, about kids killing zombies.  What drew you to appreciate the horror genre? What inspired you to write in it?

TD: Horror’s fun. It’s as simple as that. Of all the arts, writing is the most intimate; every “performance” is entirely one-on-one, author and reader. That intimacy allows for an emersion on the reader’s part that the author, if he or she is worth their salt, takes full advantage of. I like to creep out my reader, present them with a dark and grim scenario and then pull them along with me through that scenario, showing them a little more, page by page, as the tension builds. Doing so is both my responsibility and my privilege in this covenant with my reader.

eSB: Other than horror, what other genres do you write in? Tell us something about your other works and what makes those genres different from writing horror.

TD: Horror isn’t all I write by any means. A science fiction novel of mine, Dragons, was released by the good folks at eSpec Books in 2021. There’s also Torq (2018) and Phobos, way back in 2004. I’m currently finishing up a new novel that’s set in the very near future. More on that later. And I’ve authored two historical novels. One, called The Franklin Affair (2001), was my first published novel. The other, The New Americans, should be coming out in 2022, I think.

eSB: What is your least favorite aspect of being an author, and why?

TD: LOL! Okay, here’s the truth of that. My “First Read” is my wife, Helene. It’s been this way for decades. I write a novel, make it as perfect and clean as I can, and then give to her to edit. She usually gets the third or fourth revision. Then she proceeds to pick it apart, challenging anything from word choices, to characters, to entire themes. She’s ruthless and thorough. Yet, after she’s done, the final book is always stronger for her efforts—”forged in fire,” you might say.

Still, every time I hand her a story, a part of me shrivels up inside…

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?

TD: I used to guest speak at a lot of middle schools while promoting the Undertakers. Overall, I visited nearly a hundred of them in six states from Maine to Kentucky, and gave talks on writing, ran workshops, and did Q&As in front of a total of about 60,000 kids between the ages of 9 and 13. Some of the questions and comments I got were nothing short of hilarious. One girl at a school library booksigning made the loud comment that “You’re so relatable!” Another boy told me he wanted me to add a water cannon to an Undertakers story and give him full credit for the idea, with photo. Yet another penned a truly disturbing piece of flash fiction for a workshop: “Three starving men boarded a boat to cross a lake. When they reached the other side, there were only two of them, but they were full!”

eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?

TD: My younger fanbase is frequently stunned when they find out how old I am. I’ll be sixty-two in 2022, which makes me even older than their parents! It came up dozens of times at those aforementioned school visits and, whenever I revealed my age, a shocked murmur would travel through my audience that always tickled me.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

TD: There’s a plan in the works to release my historical novel, The New Americans, sometime in late 2022. This is a “family saga” that’s based on a series of cassette tapes that my father made right before his death in 1992. The story is loosely based on my grandfather’s life as a Sicilian immigrant struggling to assimilate in 1915 America.

AND I’m excited to report that my newest novel, Checkmate, is just about ready for prime time (I’m dating myself with that metaphor). This is a near-future retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. It tells the story of a gender-fluid vigilante who uses disguise, guile, and plain old chutzpah to expose corrupt politicians, all told from the perspective of the young journalist assigned to investigate this person’s crusade.

eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?

TD: I recently joined the Horror Writers Association and have been slowly immersing myself in that organization and its community. It’s one of the most supportive and passionate writers groups I’ve ever come across.

On a broader note, however, most of my support as a writer comes from my wife, Helene. She’s believed in my efforts from the beginning, and has devoted her time, her emotional energy, and her considerable intellect to help get me to where I am. I’ve dedicated more than one book to her and named one of my heroines after her. These are all worthy gestures, but insufficient to truly express the depth of my love and gratitude. It’s no exaggeration to say that you would not be reading these words if not for her.

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?

TD: Follow the Five Rules of Writing! What are they, you ask? Well, they are this: 1) Write; 2) Finish what you write; 3) Edit what you write; 4) Submit what you write for publication; and 5) Go write something else.

Do that, over and over, without giving up—and you’ll get there, regardless of the genre.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

TD: Well, I’ve started working on an audiobook of Dragons, read by Yours Truly. And Helene and I are planning a new season to our podcast “Legacy.” This one will focus on the efforts to publish and publicize The New Americans.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

TD: I’m all over social media. You can also email me at I love it when people reach out!

Ty Drago

Ty Drago is a full-time writer and the author of ten published novels, including his five-book Undertakers series, the first of which has been optioned for a feature film. Torq, a dystopian YA superhero adventure, was released by Swallow’s End Publishing in 2018. Add to these one novelette, myriad short stories and articles, and appearances in two anthologies. He’s also the founder, publisher, and managing editor of ALLEGORY (, a highly successful online magazine that, for more than twenty years, has features speculative fiction by new and established authors worldwide.

Ty’s currently just completed The New Americans, a work of historical fiction and a collaborative effort with his father, who passed away in 1992. If that last sentence leaves you with questions, check out his podcast, “Legacy: The Novel Writing Experience,” to get the whole story.

He lives in New Jersey with his wife Helene, plus one cat and one dog.

Learn more about Ty Drago:

Website  *  GoodReads  *  Amazon  *  BookBub

Follow Ty Drago on social media:

Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Instagram  *  TikTok  *  YouTube


As you may have noticed, we have launched a new campaign, GHOSTS AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS, this time for three horror books: Even in the Grave edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander (ghost anthology), Eyes of the Dead by James Chambers (zombie serial), and Rags by Ty Drago (supernatural/black magic novel). All three books are a part of our new(ish) NeoParadoxa imprint and all of them are phenomenal. We already shared an excerpt from Eyes of the Dead a few weeks ago (click the above link to check it out). And here is a sneak peek at Rags.

BannersChapter 1

The First One to Go Down

—is the pimply-faced gangbanger in the leather jacket. One second, he’s laughing with his crew, getting off on how scared I look, and how Corinne’s just gone and passed out at my feet. The next, he gets grabbed from behind and yanked into the shadow of one of the big steel pilings, the move so sudden and swift that it almost seems like a magic trick.

A moment later, Pimples screams.

A moment after that, his body gets tossed out from behind the piling as if he were a rag doll instead of 160 pounds of wiry muscle. He flips end over end and lands with a loud thump in the sand. There he writhes, groaning and clutching his face with both hands. Despite the patchwork of shadows beneath the pier, there’s no mistaking the blood.

His face has been slashed.

Wait. Did I say “slashed?” Well, that’s wrong.

His face has been all but peeled away, like an apple skin.

And the whole thing took maybe five seconds.

For several more seconds, nobody moves. Not me. Certainly not poor out-of-it Corinne. And not the three other bangers encircling us, either.

They’re all in their late teens or early twenties, stoned out and itching to hurt somebody. A teenage girl like me coming out here was foolish, plenty foolish. But bringing my nine-year-old foster sister along cranked “plenty foolish” up to “outright stupid.” While being under Steel Pier at midnight wasn’t exactly safe at the best of times, running into these dudes was the kind of boatload full of bad luck that could rachet “outright stupid” all the way up to “stone dead.”

Except, suddenly, that boatload of bad luck had turned on the tide.

“What happened to you, man?” one of the bangers yells. He stares at his homeboy, who’s still wailing piteously. Then, realizing that Pimples has got nothing to say just now, he looks fearfully around. He’s still clutching an open butterfly knife, the one he planned to use to cut away my coat and clothes to “get a peek at the candy.”

Another of the gang yells out a stream of cusses that would have had Aunt Kell grounding me for sure. Then this third dude draws a gun—a snub-nosed .38 revolver—from inside his coat. He starts waving it around, scanning the gloom for a target.

A figure emerges from behind the pillar.

He’s still bathed in shadow, but I get the impression of old clothes, mismatched and well-worn—a mixed bag of dumpster pickings from behind a thrift store. Most of it looks tattered, little more than rags. He’s not a particularly big dude, and his shoulders are pretty slim. But, for all that, there’s something about him—a “presence”—that’s hard to overlook. It seems to run through the air like electricity.

Oh, and he’s holding an enormous bloody knife.

“Who the hell are you?” Butterfly demands.

“Who cares?” Thirty-Eight adds. Then with another imaginative cuss, he fires. The muzzle flash is blinding and the noise deafening, bouncing off the concrete underside of the pier and momentarily drowning out the surf’s constant rumble.

But when the noise and flash subside, the figure’s gone. Not dead. Not shot. Just gone.

Only now, something sticks out the front of Thirty-Eight’s chest, jutting through his coat. It takes me a moment to get what it is—the point of a knife. His knife. Rag’s knife. It’s got a long blade of black metal that gives back none of the lamplight leaking under the pier from the nearby Boardwalk. The blade’s darkness is so complete—so perfectly empty—that it almost looks like a triangular bit of Thirty-Eight’s chest has been somehow erased.

But the truth is way simpler.

The banger’s been impaled from behind.

I try to scream, but I can’t seem to make a sound.

Thirty-eight’s eyes roll up inside his head. He topples over, revealing Rags, who leans down and smoothly pulls his knife out of the banger’s back.

My mind reeling, I take in the raggedy man’s moth-riddled wool coat and the heavy hood he’s wearing that completely conceals his face. I can’t tell anything about him. I can’t even say for sure it’s a “him.”

Two gangbangers remain. One is Butterfly, who’s taken to bobbing and weaving in a way that I guess is supposed to look badass. The knife he’s waving is hilariously small compared to the one Rags wields. Nevertheless, the dude does his best to compensate.

“Back off, man!” he screams. “I’ll cut you! I’ll cut you wide open!”

Rags doesn’t reply.

The last banger, the youngest of them, who hasn’t said a thing so far—and who didn’t seem all that psyched about joining in his homeboys’ rape/murder party in the first place—just stares.

Then he turns and runs face-first into a steel piling.

Sounds dumb, I know, but it’s easier to do in the dark than you’d think. He staggers back from it, moaning and cupping his palms over what’s got to be a broken nose. Then he drops to his knees in the sand.

Butterfly apparently sees this as an opening and charges forward, yelling like an Apache in one of those old John Wayne movies Uncle Nick likes to watch. His knife is raised, his eyes wild from dope, desperation, and a double-sized portion of fear.

Rags kicks him—hard.

He does it like it’s nothing, just lifts his foot, wrapped in an army boot that looks about fifty years old, and drives it straight into Butterfly’s sternum. The gangbanger’s Apache cries downshift into an agonized wheeze as he doubles over and then goes flying. Three feet. Six feet. Nine.

Jesus, how strong is this dude?

Butterfly’s body slams into a piling—the same one that Pimples’ was pulled behind—with terrific force. Despite the surf and the sound of Broken Nose’s nasal sobs, I hear the dude’s ribs crack. He manages a kind of broken wheeze before he drops to the sand, either out cold or close enough for it not to matter.

I try to scream again. Nothing. I try to move. Can’t. I want to throw myself over Corinne’s body. She’s still unconscious, though how the girl—this sweet, precious little girl—can stay fainted through all this noisy carnage is beyond me. I’m not even sure what good I’d be doing, shielding her like that. I mean, this dude’s knife is more like a machete, easily long enough to pin us both to the dunes.

But she’s my foster sister, and I have to do something!

Except I can’t freakin’ move!

Fortunately, the raggedy man isn’t interested in us. Instead, his attention turns toward the only remaining banger.

Despite his whimpers and obvious pain, Broken Nose is doing his best to crawl away.


It’s Corinne. When I glance down at her, her eyes have opened. She sounds groggy, disoriented.

“Shhh!” I hiss.

“Abby? Where are you?”

I start to reply. But before I can get the words out, I hear footsteps in the sand behind me—light, almost silent—and my heart freezes up. I glance over my shoulder. I don’t want to. It’s more reflex than conscious thought. After all, if Rags has decided it’s my turn, there’s probably not much I can do about it, and something tells me I’d rather not see it coming.

But it’s not coming, at least not yet.

Instead, the raggedy man walks past us, slow and with an eerie grace, almost close enough to touch. He doesn’t even glance at Corinne or me but instead approaches Broken Nose. The last banger is still crawling, but when he sees what’s coming after him, he manages to scramble to his feet and stumble desperately forward, making for the open beach beyond the pier.

He doesn’t get there.

Rags explodes into motion, a patchwork blur that tears up the sand, dodging one piling after another. Then, leaping up and vaulting smoothly sideways off a third, he pivots in mid-air and lands less than a foot in front of Broken Nose.

Dude’s a freakin’ acrobat!

Broken Nose shrieks and tries to backpedal, but he’s nowhere near fast enough. A grimy fist snaps out, cobra-quick, catching the banger’s coat and pulling him up and off his feet like he weighs nothing.

Broken Nose starts wailing.

“Please…” he stammers. “Please don’t …I didn’t hurt nobody! I don’t even know those guys!” He covers his bloodied face with trembling hands and sobs.

I don’t blame him a bit.

For several long seconds, Rags just studies the dude. Then, as I watch, he slowly raises his knife.

And before I even realize I’m going to, I yell, “No!”

To my surprise—scratch that, astonishment—Rags stops. He tilts his head past the banger he’s so easily holding up and looks at me from under his cowl.

My mouth goes dry.

Even so, I steel myself and say, “Please. Enough.”

He seems to consider a little longer. Then he drops Broken Nose, who lands hard in the sand, blood spraying across his already messed-up face. But, for all his terror, he’s no fool, and he’s up and running a moment later. Okay, maybe “staggering” is a better word, but at least he’s getting away—abandoning his homies, sure. But getting away.

And Rags is letting him.

The whole fight, start to finish, lasted maybe forty-five seconds. Now, around us, one dude’s dead, one’s broken and unconscious, and one’s sobbing and trying to keep his face attached.

My breath catches as Rags comes toward us. My first instinct is to run. But it’s like my legs are rooted in the sand. The best I can do is try to twist my body and put myself between him and Corinne. I’m only partway successful.

“Abby?” Corinne asks again.

“Shut up,” I murmur. Shouting doesn’t seem like the smart move right now.

Rags stops about four feet away, looking at me with eyes I can’t see. Under his hood, his features are a complete void, the shadows so deep that there might as well be nothing there at all.

I swallow, looking at the blade. Rags clutches it tightly in his right fist, which is mostly buried inside the long, wide sleeve of his ratty wool coat. I can’t even tell the color of his skin.

For the first time, the smell of him hits me. Coffee grounds, urine, mildew, and rotting food. It’s almost like he’s made of trash!

Then he speaks.

It’s the first time he does, and his voice sends the mother-of-all-chills down my spine. It’s raspy, like fingernails on a blackboard, and hard to listen to. It seems wrong, not quite human, and just the sound of it sets my teeth on edge. It doesn’t help that his words are bullshit.

Vanyan sòlda.”

I almost reply, “What?” But then I catch myself. The last thing I want to do is strike up a conversation with this head-case.

He raises his hand, not the knife hand, but the other one, his left hand. When he points, I get a quick glimpse of his skin. Except I don’t. What I see is totally caked with grime, oil, and sand. I still can’t tell what color he is. But it’s not a big hand. That much I’m sure about.

With one finger, he points up the beach, the way we came, toward the same set of stairs that Corinne and I used to get here.

He’s letting us go.

With a ton of effort, I gulp down what little spit I’ve still got. Then, glancing around one last time at the carnage, I whisper, “Thanks.”

For a long moment, Rags doesn’t respond. Then his head nods ever so slightly.

And he’s gone.

I don’t mean he leaves. I don’t mean he runs off, cat-quick like I’ve seen him do. I mean, he just kind of vanishes. Like a ghost.

Seeing it turns me cold in a way the December midnight air can’t explain.

My heart’s going wild, and I’m sweating.

Can you be freezing and sweating at the same time?

Seems you can.

“Abby?” Corinne says. She pulls herself weakly up to a sitting position. “Where’d you go?”

“I’m right here,” I tell her, a little irritably. Is she blind? I think, immediately feeling bad about it. Corinne’s not brave. She never has been. Fainting was like her go-to response when the bangers surprised us—not much of a defense mechanism, but the only one she’s got. Besides, maybe she hit her head when she dropped. There are all kinds of things in the sand beneath the pier: rocks, discarded chunks of concrete, broken beer bottles, and worse stuff.

I’ll have to check her for cuts or bumps—once we find some light.

“It’s cool,” I tell her. Then, finally, I get moving. “Keep your eyes closed,” I say, reaching down and taking her hands. “Don’t look around. You hear me, pumpkin?”

Corinne doesn’t argue. She just lets me pull her up. Then she hugs me, hard and desperate. I hug back. Nearby, the Atlantic Ocean roars and crashes.

Moving in slow, halting steps, I lead my foster sister away from the bodies and toward the somewhat safer Boardwalk, our little midnight adventure cut short.

I could say that’s how the whole thing started.

I could, but I’d be lying.

That’s just where I’ve decided to start telling it.

Ty Drago

Ty Drago is a full-time writer and the author of ten published novels, including his five-book Undertakers series, the first of which has been optioned for a feature film, and Dragons (eSpec Books). Torq, a dystopian YA superhero adventure, was released by Swallow’s End Publishing in 2018. Add to these one novelette, myriad short stories and articles, and appearances in two anthologies. He’s also the founder, publisher, and managing editor of ALLEGORY (, a highly successful online magazine that, for more than twenty years, has features speculative fiction by new and established authors worldwide.

Ty’s currently just completed The New Americans, a work of historical fiction and a collaborative effort with his father, who passed away in 1992. If that last sentence leaves you with questions, check out his podcast, “Legacy: The Novel Writing Experience,” to get the whole story.

He lives in New Jersey with his wife Helene, plus one cat and one dog.



eSpec Books interviews Ty Drago, author of the YA science fiction novel  Dragons, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: Dragons has a very unique premise. Would you mind sharing a bit about it with us?

 TD: I’ve always felt an admittedly goofy affinity with dragons. After all, my last name is simply Italian for “dragon.” But the giant scaly lizard thing’s been thoroughly explored, and often brilliantly, by authors from Tolkien to McCaffrey. So, when I decided to set out to write my own “dragon” story, I started by looking for a wholly different approach. I settled on the idea that dragons aren’t giant monsters. Instead, they’re people, homo sapien draconus, whose existence has been embellished and twisted over the millennia due to humanity’s fear and awe. Dragons, you see, have power.

In Dragons, the titular characters don’t “breathe fire.” Instead, they’re able to generate incredible amounts of thermal energy, so much so that, if one of them is killed by violence, often this energy escapes in a cataclysmic eruption that can wipe out an entire city. It’s a terrible responsibility that these gentle people live with every day, and they deal with it by hiding themselves away amidst the mass of unknowing humanity, living quiet lives in quiet communities, never drawing attention, and never revealing what they are and what they can do.

Similarly, over the centuries, the governments of the world have (mostly) resolved to leave this tiny, scattered, subspecies in peace. They’re simply too dangerous to be used. That is, until they aren’t. Throughout human history, there have always been those who believe they can control that which would better be left alone. And its from this hubris Dragons and its hero, Andy Draco, were born.

eSB: Is this meant to be a stand-alone novel, or do you envision more books in this universe in the future (no pun intended)?

TD: It’s a stand-alone, but with the hooks for a sequel should that opportunity present itself. As a working writer, I don’t like to “close doors” from a storytelling standpoint. You can never know for certain what’s going to really resonate with your readers, and so I see no reason why Andy’s story can’t continue.

eSB: You are a veteran novelist of both science fiction and horror, how does this book differ from the others you have written?

Ty Drago - Undertakers-RotCTD: Dragons is an adventure tale, one filled with twists and turns. But, at its heart, it’s about the loss of innocence, and how one young Dragon must reinvent himself when everything he loves is ripped away. It’s also the first YA I’ve written in which – well – sex happens, just “fade-to-black” moments, of course. But still, you won’t find that in Torq or The Undertakers!

eSB: What challenges do you face as an author straddling not only genres, but demographics?

TD: It’s all about voice. It took me years, literally, to find the correct voice when writing for middle grade versus young adult versus adult. All three offer their own unique challenges and nailing down your narrative style for each is really the key to connecting with your readership. That’s the most valuable advice I could offer to any novice writer. The voice is ALL!

eSB: If there is one thing you would do differently in your writing career, what would that be and why?

TD: If I had it over again, I’ve have started sending out simultaneous submissions far sooner than I did. For years, I submitted to one editor at a time and, with the response times running into months, you can grow old and die waiting to make your first sale. Yes, I know some editors/agents frown on simultaneous submissions – but folks, you’re trying to sell a book here, and you don’t have all day.  So, in this instance and this instance only (at least in the publishing business), I find it better to ask forgiveness than permission. If you have a finished story, polished to a mirror’s shine, then determine the right markets for it and then hit them all at once. Then, while you’re waiting, go write something else.  That’s the job.

eSB: You’re not just a novelist, but a publisher in your own right. Can you tell us something about Allegory Magazine?

TD: I started Allegory as “Peridot Books” back in 1998.  Since then, it’s grown to be one of the “grand old ladies of the internet.” Over the past two decades, we’ve published hundreds of short stories by new and established authors from around the world and I’m fiercely proud of the work we’ve done and continue to do. We accept no commercial advertising and are an entirely volunteer organization. Our donations-based business model covers our expenses (IP and domain fees, author payments, etc), but that’s it. With us, it isn’t about profit, it’s about the writing. So, if you write solid SF, fantasy, or horror, check us out at

eSB: If there was one dream project you could work on what would it be?

TD: I just finished it. It’s called The New Americans and it’s a collaboration with my father, who passed away from cancer in 1992. Before he died, he left behind a series of cassette tapes on which he’d outlined a novel based on my grandfather’s experiences as a Sicilian immigrant who came to America as a boy in 1915. It took me almost thirty years to work up the will and the courage to tackle this story and it’s been the most challenging project of my life. But it’s done now and being marketed around. Incredible, really. If anyone wants to know more, they can check out my podcast “Legacy: The Novel Writing Experience.” It’s kind of a novel-writing tutorial, told through the lens of my father’s tapes and my efforts to turn them into a book. It’s available wherever podcasts can be found.

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing or joyous experiences promoting your books?

TD: Back when The Undertakers series was in full swing, I used to visit a lot of middle schools. I mean, a lot. To date, I’ve been to more than seventy of them in six states from Maine to Kentucky, and I’ve spoken in front of something over 60,000 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. At one of these events, just before being invited to begin my talk, they sat me down in the front row of their auditorium and performed for me a play based on the first Undertakers book. I sat there watching these kids in humble astonishment and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t tears in my eyes. To this day, it’s the single most gratifying experience I’ve had as a writer.

eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?

TD: Three of the four main characters in Dragons are named for my children!

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?Ty Drago - TorqCover with Text - Blue - 1000

TD: Check out Torq. It’s a dystopian YA superhero novel that came out in 2018. Torq was published through Swallow’s End Press and you can find it on Amazon. I’m also in the process of turning it into an audiobook podcast! Then, of course, there’s the five-book Undertakers series, which has been optioned for the big screen!  

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

TD: I blog, though not as often as I should. But feel free to visit me at And please, if you do, leave a comment and say hello. It’s nice when people do that.

Ty Drago

Ty Drago is a full-time writer and the author of eight published novels, including his five-book Undertakers series, the first of which has been optioned for a feature film. Torq, a dystopian YA superhero adventure, was released by Swallow’s End Publishing in 2018. Add to these one novelette, myriad short stories and articles, and appearances in two anthologies. He’s also the founder, publisher, and managing editor of ALLEGORY, a highly successful online magazine that, for more than twenty years, has features speculative fiction by new and established authors worldwide.

Ty’s currently just completed The New Americans, a work of historical fiction and a collaborative effort with his father, who passed away in 1992. If that last sentence leaves you with questions, check out his podcast, “Legacy: The Novel Writing Experience,” to get the whole story.

He lives in New Jersey with his wife Helene, plus one cat and one dog.