Why I won’t be writing about dragons any more

Me with The New Age 1 tweaked

Last week saw the UK publication of THE NEW AGE, the conclusion of my Erth Dragons trilogy. I’ve been telling anyone who’s interested that after nearly twenty years of writing about dragons, this is my last book on the subject. I thought it only right to give the reasons why. Don’t worry, I still plan to leave the blog open until THE NEW AGE is published in North America next year.  Any updates or news will happen here first!

It was never my intention to write about dragons. Genuinely, it wasn’t. Even when a moment of pure serendipity encouraged me to create a character who made clay dragons to sell on a market stall, I didn’t see the potential of them. Thankfully, my editor did. She encouraged me to bring the sculptures to life on the basis that ‘dragons are wired into the human consciousness’.   I have never forgotten that statement, probably because from that day forward dragons were firmly wired into mine.

The book that emerged from these early discussions was a charming little parable called The Fire Within. It wasn’t, in truth, a book about dragons; it was a book about writing, and where ideas come from. All the same, it did rather well. It got me into North America, launched me onto the New York Times bestseller lists, spawned a seven book series called The Last Dragon Chronicles and bought me a house by the sea. I have a lot to thank dragons for.

So why stop writing about them? Well, from a very early stage of my fantasy career, children were asking me one particular question: Mr d’Lacey, do you believe that dragons are real? No. Don’t be daft, I would say. Where’s the scientific evidence for them? Where are the bones? The scales? The DNA? Ask me another.

But they didn’t. They kept asking the same one, over and over again. In time, the question was like a yapping dog. It just wouldn’t give me any peace. Why, I wondered, were people the world over so fascinated by creatures that had nothing but faith to support their existence? I needed an answer. So I went in search of it. Like my fictional X-Files hero, Fox Mulder, I wanted to believe there was a truth out there, waiting to be unravelled.

I thought about dragons an awful lot. In my universe, they had always had a bad press – hoarding treasure, capturing maidens, generally causing havoc and destruction. I thought they deserved a break. I imagined them as highly-intelligent creatures, who believed, among other things, that the world was created by their own dragon deity. It followed that dragons would be an enlightened species with a need to explore the limits of their universe. Hence they were never native to Earth, but simply happened across our little blue planet as part of their mission to boldly go where no dragon had gone before.  Gadzooks! Problem solved. By making the scaly beings extra-terrestrial, I had overcome the indigenous issue just like that.

So I let them settle on Earth for a while (or Erth as I called it in my final series) just to see what they would do. They liked the geography of our world, especially the mountains and the composition of the air (it allowed their fire sacs to ignite with sudden intensity). In many ways, Erth was the perfect environment for them. But, unsurprisingly, they clashed with the planet’s principal predator: man. From a writing point of view, this was excellent; it introduced an essential element of conflict into the books. The men in question, a prehistoric tribe of no fixed origin, were no match for the visitors. The dragons were stronger, cleverer and more culturally advanced (way more advanced). But therein lay another problem. For to arrive at the present day status quo of men dominating Earth and dragons being a remote memory, it had to be the dragons who suffered. They could not simply come, see and conquer. Instead, they must be forced to leave.

Okay. Pause at this point. If I were to continue this post, in this manner, I would be required to introduce a dozen spoiler alerts just to stop my publisher’s marketing team blowing a collective gasket. People, if you wish to know how and why my dragons left ‘Erth’, then by all means go and read THE NEW AGE. Let it simply be said that I arrived at a conclusion that seemed entirely plausible within the context of the near impossible. Having solved my X-File, I have no need to go any further. My dragons are real. They left this world, leaving behind no bones or other palaeontological remains. Now they are just a tantalising memory, rough images scratched on dark cave walls. There is still the question of their DNA, of course. But it’s pretty obvious where that can be found. For if a dragon bites into human tissue, then… Well, go and read The UNICORNE Files. It’s all there.

So, that’s me done with dragons. Well, almost. In 2021, that little parable I mentioned at the start of the post will have been alight for twenty years. I think that’s worth celebrating. So when the time comes, if the universe is still allowing the fire within me to burn as brightly as it has in the past, I might – might – tap on the door of 42 Wayward Crescent and see who answers. Until then, just … believe. Why not? You’ve done so up till now. Hrrr!

Me and Gretel

 

 

 

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Prologue

As promised, here is part one of the prologue of THE NEW AGE, the third and final book of the Erth Dragons series. I’ve been wanting to show this for ages, mainly because it’s another chance to get a glimpse of two of my favourite firebird characters from Fire World (book six of The Last Dragon Chronicles). Those of you who’ve read the Chronicles will know that the firebirds live in a strange building known as the ‘Librarium’, which is filled with an infinite array of books that detail the events of everything in the known universe. The firebirds not only guard the books, they also monitor time and space and are alert to any ‘ripples’ that might occur in the timelines, which they will usually attempt to fix. Dragons, of course, can manipulate time and space to some extent. They are often the biggest source of problems for the firebirds, as below…

 

THE NEW AGE   Prologue Part 1: What Aurielle Chased

Floor 47 of The Great Librarium

Time period: Undefined

Wind. It always worried Aurielle whenever there was wind around the Librarium. Sunshine, she loved. All firebirds did. It brought out the best of their brightly-coloured plumage. She didn’t mind the rain when it came, either. Rain made the daisies grow and brought a welcome freshness to the air. It also left pools on the great stone sills in which she could dip her fluffy cream feathers to wash out the dust from the books. There were a lot of books in a building as tall and lean as this, and an awful lot of dust.

But wind. Wind moved things around. It played with the dust motes and made the aged bookshelves creak. It also made the daisies bend, making it harder to spot irregular patterns evolving in the timelines. A junior firebird’s most important duty was to monitor glitches in the spacetime continuum. Wind could be a serious nuisance.

Raising her long hooked beak, Aurielle glanced at the sky for a moment. The clouds were puffy and mostly still, sitting happy in the blue infinity. Yet there was a definite ripple in her ear tufts. And ripples in ear tufts could not be ignored. She drummed her claws and hopped a little closer to the edge of the sill, so she could see the daisy fields better. Time was running smoothly all over the universe, except for a tiny wiggle in the sector belonging to the dragon world, Ki:mera. That made her heart pump a little bit faster. Dragons were the only creatures other than firebirds who were allowed to phase across the verges of space. Whenever dragons got involved in timeline disruptions, there was always. . .well, there was always trouble.

She sat back and pondered a little. Should she go and wake Azkiar from his nest of twigs on Floor 108? He wouldn’t be happy to be woken, but then he never was. Sometimes she wondered if the only true benefit of rising up the Librarium floors was that you simply got to sleep more often and were allowed to be grumpier when you woke. All the same, if an Event was forming, especially one that might involve dragons, a senior firebird ought to be told.

She stood up and spread her wings. At the very same moment, a gust struck. A proper blow of wind that whined as it wrapped itself around the Librarium. She heard a thud and looked back into the room. Zooks! A row of books had tipped to one side. The tiny spiracles in Aurielle’s neck nearly popped. As she turned for another look at the daisy fields, an object flapped past her. It was thin and papery and fluttery and free.

A single page had escaped from a book.

There was no time to gasp (though the Librarium kindly allowed her some); she had to catch that page and check its contents. Oh, it led her on a merry flight! Room after Room. Floor after Floor. This shelf. That shelf. So much dust! Up, up, up she went, paying no attention to how high she was flying. Until, of all the places the page might land, it skipped through a window on Floor 108 and draped itself over Azkiar’s nest.

Aurielle skidded to a halt. Oops.

Azkiar rose up very slowly, stretching his bright red wings. He dragged the page off his beak. He did not look happy.

‘What?’ he said, catching sight of Aurielle. Azkiar was a bird of very few words. There was an infinite supply of words all around him. Why add excessively to the count?

‘There was a gust!’ she panted, flapping her wings in a circular motion. ‘I need to see which book that page came from!’

Azkiar sighed and cast his eye over it.

As was his way with words, the senior firebird had very few changes of expression. Aurielle thought she had seen them all. She was wrong. She had never seen him pale before. And that wasn’t easy for a bird with deep red plumage.

‘Graven,’ he muttered.

Aurielle gulped. Her tail feathers began to quiver. Graven? The fallen son of the dragon deity, Godith? Long, long ago he’d been banished (in part) to a planet called Erth for accidentally killing his brother, G’restyn.

‘This can only mean his heart has been found,’ said Azkiar. ‘You’d better study this.’

He crunched the page between his claws and threw it into the air. It rolled out its header for Aurielle to read:

Chronicle #264986343: The Day of Moons

Underneath the header was a myriad of i:mages.

Azkiar blew on the first and a scene played out.

Aurielle watched it through twice. After the second play, she said, ‘We’re going to need a plan to deal with this, aren’t we?’ A very BIG plan, she thought.

She was wondering how Azkiar meant to go about it, when he settled back into his nest and said, ‘The page came from a book in your sector. For some reason, the Librarium wants you to repair this.’

‘Me?’ she squawked.

‘You,’ he repeated, when his ear tufts had recovered. He collapsed the web of i:mages into a sheet and handed the page back. ‘Get on to it. Immediately. And Aurielle.’

‘Yes?’

‘Try not to mess it up. . .’

 

If I’m allowed to, I’ll put up part two of the prologue nearer to publication time. In part two, you get to see the contents of the page that Aurielle reads… All the best for now.  Happy New Year everyone. Hrrr!

The cover

The New Age final coverA little treat for my blog followers.  Here, at last, is the cover of THE NEW AGE.  It comes out in April 2018.  Stay tuned, because one week from now, the first part of the prologue will be posted exclusively here.  Happy Christmas from dragon land.  Hrrr!

 

Dunnit

Anyone who’s been following this little blog and has read and enjoyed the first two Erth Dragons books will be delighted to know that I finished writing the final draft of book three, THE NEW AGE, today. It will be a little while before the book is released – probably early next year – because it has to go through the normal rigorous routine of editorial passes and error checking etc. But to all intents and purposes, it’s done.

I personally believe it’s the best of the three. It finally wraps up the story of Graven, the fallen son of Godith, and sees peace on Erth between dragons and men. But an awful lot happens before we get to that point, and even then there are still surprises to come. For those who like their battle scenes we have a couple of graphic fighting moments, this time between the dragons themselves. There’s a new enemy for the Wearle to deal with. And in this book you learn something of the history and structure of Ki:mera, the dragon homeworld. Best of all, fans of The Last Dragon Chronicles will be pleased to know that the firebirds are back! Firebirds monitor time and space throughout the universe. They open and close the book. When I’ve got permission to do so, I’ll put the prologue up on here. Trust me, if you don’t know the firebirds already, you’re in for a little treat. And it’s not just the firebirds that are making a comeback. Another major character from TLDC also puts in a guest appearance. Can’t say anything about that at the moment. (Sorry!)

I’ve seen a cover rough for the book as well. It’s still in design and production, but when it’s released to me I’ll post that up as well. I like the new cover very much. It’s not quite as striking as The Wearle, but it’s a lot easier on the eye than Dark Wyng.

So, lots to look forward to in the coming months. Bear with me! Bye for now. Hrrr!

 

Dark Wyng in paperback

reading Dark Wyng

Hey, dragons fans. It’s publication day for the UK paperback of DARK WYNG. So say a big hrrr! for Gabrial and his Wearle. He’s back again, facing more ongoing trouble from goyles and the dragon hierarchy etc. People who’ve read the book tell me there’s more action in this one than the first. That’s kind of interesting, because I had a really hard time writing Dark Wyng. I was afraid it was going to be just about the worst thing I’d ever committed to print. But Jay (wife) had a lot of faith in it and drove the book forward when I was in despair, and Sarah (editor) was right behind it too. And although it hasn’t had a lot of reviews or feedback yet, they’ve all been pretty positive. People seem to like it. So I must have done something right!

Quick update on Erth Dragons #3. We’re still developing the story at the moment, but I’m very close to a first draft now. It will go to Sarah at the end of April, and if she’s happy and we get the edits done on time it will go straight into paperback in October (UK). Note: no hardback for this one. Not enough of you are buying them. Come on, guys! Having said that, I didn’t really take to the hb edition of Dark Wyng; the pb looks and feels much classier, strangely.

I’ve also seen a draft cover for ED #3. It looks pretty good. Not as dramatic as The Wearle, but more appealing than Dark Wyng imho.

Anyway, if you’ve been waiting months for an affordable copy of Erth Dragons #2, here it is. Enjoy. And do let me know what you think. Hrrr!

Dark Wyng final cover

 

Dragons across the water

Happy New Year, dragon fans.  This is a particularly exciting opening to 2017 for me because THE WEARLE was finally published in North America just four days ago.  So at last it’s readily available to all my American and Canadian readers.  I hope you enjoy it.  Someone asked me earlier today on Twitter when DARK WYNG would be available on your shores.  Sadly, that will probably be another year.  That’s the sort of gap publishers usually leave between books in a series.  But if the reaction to The Wearle was very positive (and by that I mean it was selling well), then the likelihood is that the publication of Dark Wyng would be brought forward – maybe in the fall.  I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime I’m busy writing Erth Dragons #3, which has the working title THE NEW AGE.  That’s the first time I’ve ever revealed that title to anyone other than my editor.  So do feel free to feel honoured!  It might change.  Sometimes I start out with a very definite title and virtually build the book around it (‘Icefire’ was a good example).  But the lack of a title is no real detriment.  A book will usually tell you what it wants to be called somewhere during the writing process.  More often than not a phrase pops up that seems to summarise the whole narrative.  That’s a very satisfying moment when it happens.  Perhaps the most significant instance of this was ‘The Fire Within’, and we all know how popular that turned out to be.  Mind you, I had to fight for that title!  I’m glad I won.

So what’s THE NEW AGE about?  Well, in short, it’s exactly what the other two have been about: the dragons’ struggle to settle on Erth.  All those pesky humans getting in the way of colonisation.  Tsk!  Not to mention the internal divisions between the dragons themselves.  At this stage, I’m about…25,000 words in.  Not quite half way.  But it’s going well and for me it’s reading better than Dark Wyng at the moment.  Can’t tell you any more than that, sorry.  As soon as we have some cover artwork, you’ll see it.  Until then, come on America, get stuck into The Wearle.  It’s the most dragony thing I’ve EVER written and a BIG favourite with me and Jay.  Happy reading.  Hrrr!