Here at Spells & Spaceships, on the 3rd day of Monster Week, the focus is on dragons.
You can check out brand new interviews with Brian Naslund, one of my favourite authors and ML Spencer whose Dragon Mage novel is getting alot of attention! Aswell as these interviews there is an updated list of dragon reads and everything you wanted to know about dragons. Find the links at the bottom of the post. Right now, here are the interviews. I hope you enjoy them!
An Interview with Brian Naslund
Hi Brian and welcome to Fantasy Monster Week!
It’s a pleasure to have you here; as you know I really loved Blood of an Exile and Sorcery of a Queen and am mega excited (but kinda sad) to wrap up the Dragons of Terra trilogy later this year with Fury of a Demon. How do you feel, having wrapped up the trilogy; is it a relief or a little deflating?
I’d say that it’s a mixture of both. When I first wrote the ending of Fury of a Demon a little more than a year ago, I burst out crying in a public place because saying goodbye to these characters was quite emotional.
But, many an edit later, finally putting the “done” stamp on it was a pretty big relief. Part of working on a trilogy is becoming close bedfellows with your deadlines, and suddenly being free of them was liberating. I ate an enormous pizza to celebrate, then slept for eleven hours straight.
When it comes to dragons, there are two things that particularly stand out to me about your series. One is that your dragons are part of a considered ecosystem, as they would be if they actually existed, with different breeds and their adaptations to the environment around them. The second is the respect for that natural world that comes across in your writing – the Dainwood jaguars for example and the dragons themselves; sometimes the dragons are dangerous enough to need ‘slaying’ but it is never a cause for joy and celebration upon doing so. I like that the killing of a dragon is a sad and unfortunate occasion. Is a passion for the environment and the natural world something you hold in the ‘real world’ and if so, did you make a conscious effort to introduce this passion into your writing?
I didn’t consciously set out to write a book with an ecological slant. I actually just planned on writing a short scene about a hungover dragonslayer, and things evolved from there.
But, once the edges of the environmentalism angle emerged, I almost couldn’t help myself from running with it as far as it would go. I think that was because I do have a big personal passion for the natural world, especially animals. I’m by no means a rugged outdoorsmen or eco-warrior, but I’ve always felt more at peace with myself when I’m out in nature versus deep in a bustling city. Plus, I find the hidden and complex systems that connect animals to the larger world to be endlessly fascinating.
Obviously dragons aren’t the only monsters in your books, with perhaps the two biggest monsters so far being humans themselves. What does the word monster mean to you? When it comes to creatures, it feels that we just stick the label on anything dangerous that we don’t understand.
Humans are definitely the biggest monsters in my books! I tend to gravitate toward the behavioral definition of monster versus the physical, mostly because I think that’s a way more interesting kind of villain/Big Bad. The Red Skull dragons from my books may be able to level cities, but Osyrus Ward is reshaping the whole world from his basement, which is far more insidious and destructive.
On a lighter note and disregarding our perceptions of what a monster actually is, do you have a favourite fantasy monster?
This one is more my favorite monster right now versus all time, but I think the Gelatinous Cube from D&D is both awesome and hilarious because they were described to me as the “Evil Wizard’s Roomba,” patrolling the hallways of a dungeon and burning up an errant trash (or adventurers). As an Evil Wizard, it’s important to keep a clean workspace.
When it comes to scary monsters, is there anything that really gives you goosebumps? What is it that gets its claws into you?
I was allowed to watch the Exorcist when I was way too young, and it scared me to my very core. (I had to sleep in my older brother’s room for like a month.) Because of that experience, the idea of possession-by-demon has pretty much always terrified me. I’m not sure what it is, exactly. I guess the powerlessness? Also the head-turny-around-thing is just horrifying.
Are you working on anything new at the minute? What’s next for Brian Naslund?
I am! Although it’s in the very early stages, which makes it difficult to offer details because pretty much all aspects of it may change. I can say that it’s fantasy, and swords are involved.
Finally, without any spoilers, what can fans of your series expect from Fury of a Demon?
A big chunk of the story takes place in the Dainwood jungle during a war, so there’s lots of swordfights in the woods, lots of dragons, and lots of cursing.I can also say that it’s a proper ending, in the sense that all major characters get a resolution of sorts. (Can’t guarantee all are happy endings, but things are wrapped up, one way or another!)
About the Author
Brian grew up in Maryland, studied English at Skidmore College, and now lives in Boulder, Colorado. When he isn’t mainlining coffee and writing, he’s usually playing video games, hiking with his dog, Lola, or whitewater kayaking in the mountains, which makes his mother very nervous. Brian believes that spending too much time in the real world—where there are no dragons—is a grave mistake.
An Interview with ML Spencer
Hi ML and welcome to Monster Week!
Your latest book, Dragon Mage feels like it has had a lot of attention recently! What can potential readers expect if they decide to buy it?
Dragon Mage has a protagonist on the autism spectrum who is a magical savant. He’s had a rough time in life and has a rough future ahead of him. But he has a fantastic friend and is determined to make a difference, so he has some good things going for him!
What do you think it is about dragons specifically that continues to captivate fantasy readers?
They are epically noble creatures that are in many ways our equal—or downright better than us (and even snobby elves!)
Dragon Mage is a mighty beast at nearly 1,000 pages long. Was there a temptation to split the book into two novels, or was full caps EPIC the only way to go in your mind?
Ful caps EPIC was pretty much the driving force. I set out to write a ginormous book and kind of kept that in my sights.
I love the cover art, which feels like a classic fantasy cover whilst also being very eye catching. How much involvement did you have with the cover design?
I did a lot of market research and took screen caps of a lot of covers that I thought were along the lines of what I wanted. My cover artist took it from there.
Dragons are an obvious draw, but it takes a good storyteller to make theirs stand out in a post Game of Thrones market. Judging by the stellar reviews, you’ve achieved this and then some. Did you feel a pressure when deciding to write about dragons and if so, did you have a specific plan to make your book stand out?
I really didn’t mean to stand out. I just wanted things the way I wanted them and if that was the same as others that have gone before, great. If it was different, great. I did want my dragons to have their own spin, and I wanted my character to have his challenges. But I really wasn’t stressed about making anything “new” or “different”.
How many books can we expect in your Rivenworld series; is it all planned out?
It is NOT planned out at all. Dragon Mage was going to be a stand alone until enough people started telling me they wanted more and I caved lol. I am still trying to figure out where this story goes, but I’ll be pantsing it the whole way!
Finally, other than dragons, do you have a favourite fantasy monster?
Favorite fantasy monster? Hmm. I suppose I’ll have to pick the balrog from LoTR. That thing scared the heck out of me when I was a kid!
Thankyou for taking part in Monster Week!
About the Author
ML Spencer lives in Southern California with her three children and two cats. She has been obsessed with fantasy ever since the days of childhood bedtime stories. She grew up reading and writing fantasy fiction, playing MMORPG games, and living, as mom put it, “in her own worlds.” ML now spends each day working to bring those worlds into reality.
Click here for Here Be Dragons – a monster blog post which will tell you everything you need to know about dragons, created by yours truly!
If you’d rather skip this and go straight to the dragon read recommendations, I have asked 30 bloggers for their picks and shared them in one monstrous post! Check it out here!
Thanks for reading and I really hope you’ve enjoyed dragon Day.