Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Plague of Dragons: Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

Hello, and welcome to the final interview with my fellow A Plague of Dragons (Kindle link) authors! Please welcome Jenna Elizabeth Johnson! Her story in the anthology is called Flame and Form.

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Tell me a bit about your story.

Flame and Form tells the story of Brienne, a Faelorehn woman from the Otherworld, and Dorran, a draghan shape-shifter from Firiehn, a neighboring realm.  Brienne is on the run, having recently escaped a life of slavery from the Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war.  While passing through a small town, she gets the opportunity to help a captured draghan.  Knowing the creature will probably end up in the Morrigan’s hands, she sets aside her own plans of escape in order to take the draghan out of the reach of its tormentors.  It isn’t too long, however, before Brie discovers this draghan is really cru-athru, a man of Firiehn who can take draghan form.  This story began as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (a favorite tale of mine), but soon started to develop its own personality.  There are still the common themes of a man taking beast form, and looking past the outer self and seeing the beauty within, but Flame and Form also introduces elements from my Otherworld universe as well. 

Dragons are inherently magical; they cannot exist in nature. That being said, did you give any consideration to natural or physical limitations when you were dreaming up your dragons? Why or why not?

The setting of my story is a land rich in magic, so it wasn’t a far leap for me to incorporate a magical creature.  The people of the Otherworld and Firiehn have glamour, fae magic, and can utilize it in different ways.  Dorran, my dragon character, uses his magic to take draghan form and breathe fire.  Despite the fact that my characters wield and use magic as part of their natural existence, there are limits to how much they can use and if they use too much, they need to rest and recharge before they are at their best once again.

How many average-sized adult sheep do you think the dragons in your story would have to consume per day?

Unfortunately, Dorran, my dragon character, isn’t a huge dragon.  When he is in his beast form, he’s about the size of a Clydesdale or Shire horse.  So I would say, if he were to stumble upon a hillside full of sheep on an empty stomach, he might be able to consume one of them.  Though, I bet he’d be too stuffed to take flight afterward for at least an hour.

The dragons in your story are shapeshifters. In many shapeshifter stories, people lose their humanity while in their animal forms; werewolf tales are a well-known example of this. Do your dragons retain all aspects of their humanity when in dragon form?

This is a good question, and the way I usually approach characters in my stories who have the ability to shapeshift is that they retain enough of their humanity not to go entirely feral.  I like the idea of the animal side of them lending their sharpened instincts to either form (because if they don’t go a bit wild, what’s the point of turning into an animal?).  In Flame and Form, my shifter characters take on all the aspects of being large, fire-breathing reptiles.  They are fierce, they are strong, they are naturally graceful.  They recognize the human (or in my case, Faelorehn) woman who is their friend, but they also have no trouble identifying the enemy and treating them as such.  I didn’t spend a lot of time on this subject in Flame and Form, but I do hope to explore it further in future books.

Tell me about some of the other dragon stories you’ve written.

I have one other series that directly features dragons as important characters, and that is my Legend of Oescienne series.  The Oescienne books are appropriate for younger readers (10 years old and up) and they tell the story of a human infant found and raised by dragons in a world where her kind no longer exist.  The dragons in this series are highly intelligent and capable of speech (in fact, Hroombra, the dragon mentor to my girl hero, Jahrra, was responsible for tutoring the human children of the royal family from long ago).  This series is an epic fantasy adventure along the lines of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Eragon.  There are currently four full-length novels and one short story collection in the Legend of Oescienne series, with the fifth and final book in the works.  The titles of the books are The Finding (Book 1), The Beginning (Book 2), The Awakening (Book 3), The Ascending (Book 4), and Tales of Oescienne.  The Finding has recently been made available in audio format.

Will there be a sequel to Flame and Form?

Yes!  I have this terrible habit where, if I start a shiny new story, it usually decides to grow into something larger than a single book.  I do have plans to write at least two follow-up novellas to take place after Flame and Form.  No set publication dates yet, but hopefully one or both of them will be out before the end of the year.  It all depends on how busy my other writing projects keep me.

If you could take one of your characters to a book event to help you sell books, who would it be and why?

I’ll go ahead and pick someone from Flame and Form since this book is the one featured in the new anthology, A Plague of Dragons.  Let’s see… I would bring all my characters if I could, and although I think Mynne (Brienne’s blind, spirit guide wolf) would be a fun addition to any event, I’m going to have to go with Dorran.  In his Firiehn form, he’s a ruggedly handsome, tall, dark-haired, flame-eyed man; a warrior from a realm of magic.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to wander over and get a picture with him?  And if he wasn’t impressive enough in his more human form, he could shift into draghan form.  A soot black draghan the size of a large horse who happens to breathe turquoise fire?  Yeah, if I was attending a book event, that would DEFINITELY get my attention.

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To check out A Cold Fire plus five more dragon tales, get your copy of A Plague of Dragons! It's just 99 cents for a limited time!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Plague of Dragons: Jason LaVelle

Today I continue my interviews with my fellow A Plague of Dragons (Kindle link) authors! Next up is Jason LaVelle, here to talk about his story, A Cold Fire

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Dragons are inherently magical; they cannot exist in nature. That being said, did you give any consideration to natural or physical limitations when you were dreaming up your dragons? Why or why not?

I think the idea has always been that because dragons are magical, they cannot exist in nature, that they can’t be real. That seems like a reasonable, adult idea, but I challenge you with this question: Is there anything that exists in nature, that lives either among us or in some faraway place that isn’t powered by some kind of ‘magic’?

Are there any plants or creatures on this earth that were not created by ‘magic’? You yourself, humanity, are we not the product of some kind of ‘divine magic’ or science that cannot be explained Everything on our planet, and in fact, life itself is magical, and I’m not talking about some hippy-dippy bologna, I’m talking about the very mechanics of how life works – we know a heart pumps blood, we know a lung draws air, we know a brain sends and interprets electrical impulses that control everything from motor functions to our thoughts and memories, but what actually breathes ‘life’ into life? It’s magic! Something we will never understand but that exists nonetheless.

So, do dragons exist? I have no idea! Could they exist? Of course! Just because something is ‘magical,’ and we haven’t seen it yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t still out there, waiting to be discovered… or perhaps, avoiding discovery.

The dragons in my story are not so different from us, they have hopes and fears, they experience pain and they feel joy. In their human forms they have the same physical limitations as we do, and while in dragon form, they have a completely different set of physiological traits. Even when writing in a fantasy world, I try to give my characters the dignity and respect they deserve by not only endowing them with gifts, but with limitations as well. No animal is perfect, not even a dragon, and they must live within their limitations to survive. What happens when two different, intelligent creatures, such as humans and dragons are thrust together? You’ll have to read A Cold Fire to find out.

How many average-sized adult sheep do you think the dragons in your story would have to consume per day?

Everything has to eat to survive. Humans are omnivores, we eat a bit of everything. Some creatures eat only plants, and plants consume nutrients and sunlight. There are bacteria on this planet that consume things that we wouldn’t normally even think of as food, such as atmospheric gases, and even electricity. So it would follow that dragons have to eat too. My dragons eat like a human would, consuming meats, fruits and vegetables – on a little bit larger scale. While the average human needs about 1,800 calories a day to survive, one of my dragons needs closer to 130,000, or roughly two adult sheep.

The dragons in your story are shapeshifters. In many shapeshifter stories, people lose their humanity while in their animal forms; werewolf tales are a well-known example of this. Do your dragons retain all aspects of their humanity when in dragon form?

Regardless of their physical form, whether it is the cold-blooded reptilian dragon, or the warm-blooded human, my shapeshifters remain intelligent and reasonable, capable of complex thought and careful decision making. Whether or not they will use those skills, well, that’s a different story.

Are you fond of films like Dragonslayer that depict dragons as mindless, violent animals, or do you prefer your dragons with a bit more intelligence and, perhaps, kindness?

My favorite dragon movie is Reign Of Fire, a post-apocalyptic story where the dragons are the tormentors and human-kind has been hunted to near extinction. The movie stars some very kick-ass fire-breathing dragons, Christian Bale (before he lost it) and a buff, tattooed Matthew McConaughey.

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To check out A Cold Fire plus five more dragon tales, get your copy of A Plague of Dragons! It's just 99 cents for a limited time!

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Plague of Dragons: David Jones

Hello! Today's A Plague of Dragons (Kindle linkinterview is with David Jones. His story in the anthology, The Sky Hunter, is a sci-fi take on dragons!

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Tell us a bit about your story.

The Sky Hunter is a sci-fi military story that introduces us to Ilana, a human warrior who was raised by the Ociel, a race of dragon people, on their islands in the sky. Her past is a mystery, even to her, and that’s partly because of the Ociel, so she resents them. Ilana is relatively new to being a Sky Hunter, and wears a special suit of armor called the Aether Suit that allows her to keep up with her fellow warriors. She descends to the surface world, which is absolutely foreign to her, with the intent to fulfill this final mission for the Ociel elders, and then go off on her own. This story essentially blends Metroid, Mega Man X, Jurassic Park, dragons, and Little Shop of Horrors together in really fun ways, and Ilana is by far the strongest, most badass character I’ve written to date.

Have you written any other dragon stories?

The first book I ever wrote is called Onyx The Half Hero Dragon. It’s still unreleased, but it’s a story that I’ve always loved. I’ve grown a lot as a writer since I started work on Onyx, which has had a ridiculously long development history, but I have every intention to release Onyx by the end of the year. Onyx The Half Hero Dragon is a coming of age story about a young bionic dragon who grew up on a mythic island, and was raised by a mechanical engineer named Sheila. They set out to explore the island they live on to hunt down components for a powerful new weapon, and quickly find themselves caught up in war. There's much more to the story, obviously, but I'm not about to spoil everything here.

Will there be a sequel to The Sky Hunter?

I would love to write a sequel to The Sky Hunter. Ilana's world is full of possibilities, and even I don't know where she's headed.

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To check out The Sky Hunter plus five more dragon tales, get your copy of A Plague of Dragons! It's just 99 cents for a limited time!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Plague of Dragons: Katie Salidas

We continue to celebrate the release of A Plague of Dragons (Kindle link) with Katie Salidas! Her story in our anthology is called Molten Heart. Take it away, Katie!

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Let’s talk dragons, shall we?

Why don’t we see many dragons flying around or burning down cities? Probably because they, just like us, have had to grow and adapt with time. Rise beyond the firebreathing image to something a bit more…

Maybe dragons exist and we just don’t know it. And that is the kind of thinking that led me to dragons as shifters in the story, Molten Heart.

Dragons belong just as much to the human world as we do. And really, calling it the human world might piss them off, because they think we’re a bit irresponsible with the world we’ve taken over. So let’s maybe just stick to calling it earth. It will make life easier on us all. Trust me. Most dragons are good, but piss off the wrong one….

Anyway. Back on point. Dragons could possibly be the very first breed of shifters. Over time as they grew and adapted with time, maybe they learned how to change forms. All creatures on earth have had to grow and adapt over the years or risk extinction. And though dragons might seem like the king of beasts, there is a greater beast on this earth that strikes fear into the hearts and minds of all creatures who share this planet… man!

Was that too preachy? Sorry. Moving on.

That leads us to the question of their (the dragons) nature. Are they beasts? Are they thinking and feeling beings. And if the answer to both of those questions is, yes. What is dominant in them and how does it work when they shift between forms?

I’d have to answer that with turning it back around on humanity. We’re thinking and feeling beings who act absolutely beastly without shifting into a twenty-foot tall firebreathing creature, so why would a dragon who has the ability to swap forms be any different? In both their impressive drake form and in their tiny (by comparison) human form, the character is the same. Their minds stay intact as well as their ability to reason and understand their surroundings. It is merely their appearance, and fire-proofing, that alters.

Why do they change then, you might ask?

Well, who doesn’t want to be able to take to the sky? Admit it, if you could sprout wings, you would.
As far as my dragons are concerned, their drake form is their natural form. They take on the human guise to keep their truth secret from the savage humans who rape and pillage the earth they live on.
Humans are a pretty damn scary race!

But, that might be giving too much away. Let’s chat about more fun dragon facts, like what they eat.
My Dragons are actually omnivores (because of their dual forms) but because of their massive size need more protein than their human counterparts. That of course leads to quite a bit of meat consumption. They’ll eat pretty much anything that moves. Sheep, cow, pig, etc… Fish too, for the water variety (the hydras). And when you have a colony of dragons around, there had better be quite a bit of available food.

How much do they eat? Well, that’s a great question. On the island they live on herd of wild sheep and ponies are pretty prevalent so that is the natural meal of choice for a dragon on the hunt. Bunny en flambĂ© though is a favorite snack. Food is energy for the dragons, not an indulgence. Participating in the circle of life (cue the Lion King music), means that the dragons only take what they need when they need it. Could a dragon glutton himself on six or seven fully grown mountain goats with a side of squirrel every day? Of course they could. But eventually overhunting leads to extinction, and they know that. They are thinking and feeling creatures, remember.

On average, a male drake will sustain themselves on one meal a day consisting of two to three large prey animals.

I know what you’re saying. Dragons are fantasy creatures. They cannot exist in nature. Why are you spending so much time pretending that they’re real?

That’s my job. As the author I have think of all the little details and physical attributes necessary to validate my dragons. Even if all of these details do not end up in the final story, the world and character building has to be there first. Laying the foundations so that I can tell you a believable story. Do I think dragons exist? Doesn’t matter. But if for one second, just one, I can make you suspend your belief, then I have done my job!

Hope you enjoy reading Molten Heart!

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To check out Molten Heart plus five more dragon tales, get your copy of A Plague of Dragons! It's just 99 cents for a limited time!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Plague of Dragons: Alexia Purdy

Hello, everyone! A Plague of Dragons (Kindle link), an anthology I'm involved with, has just been released. For the next few days I'll be posting interviews and guest posts from my fellow authors!

To get things started, here's an interview with Alexia Purdy. Her story is called Lucidium: Rise of the Dragons, and I'll let her tell you a bit about it.

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Do you have a favorite dragon from legend, literature or film?

There are two. One is the dragon from The Neverending Story. I always loved the concept of a “luck” dragon and I think I based Catori around this. Though her life has been kind of rough up until this point, she is a catalyst of sorts for those around her, and I think that as time goes on, this will stand out more. The second dragon I admired was the one from the movie Reign of Fire. It scared me and became truly a post-apocalyptic scenario that could frighten anyone about dragons. I loved the way people dealt with the mythical creature and how they survived its wrath. It made more “real world” to me.

Will there be a sequel to Lucidium?

Yes. Lucidium is part one of the story, and I have plans to continue the series in the near future. I don’t have a title for part 2, but I plan to extend part 1 into a novel-length adventure if possible and then put out book 2 of the series. We’ll see how it goes.

Dragons are inherently magical; they cannot exist in nature. That being said, did you give any consideration to natural or physical limitations when you were dreaming up your dragons? Why or why not?

I did make my dragons smaller than the usual sized dragons you see in the movies. Mine was more the size of Falkor in The Neverending Story for the one reason that I don’t believe that a person can truly shift their body into a much larger mass than their body. I didn’t want them the exact same size, but not gigantic like one would think of when thinking of dragons. Though several times larger than a person, they aren’t that much bigger than an elephant. I think keeping them smaller makes sense and works in my story better than making them huge.

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To check out Lucidium plus five more dragon tales, get your copy of A Plague of Dragons! It's just 99 cents for a limited time!