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!