Sunday, 23 July 2017

Introducing Root ~ The Dragon Whisperer

Root learning to fly on the wooden dragon....from The Dragon Whisperer

'Pa was gone. He was all alone in the world. What would he do now? Root wondered. Where would he go? He couldn't think straight. He couldn't even move. The hobgoblins had once more killed his closest kin. He had been barely six years old when a banner had wiped out his village - he had been picking nuts and berries in the forest when the attack came, and was the sole survivor out of a hundred and fifty peaceful gnomes. Hearing the screams, he had hidden in the undergrowth and stayed there long after night and silence fell, too afraid to move. Finally, as dawn turned darkness into shades of grey, he had crept home to find his family lying like broken dolls in the ruins of their home. The SDS had found him three days later, filthy, starving, and frozen, and had reunited him with his grieving father, stationed at Dragonsdome. But now the evil creatures had taken his father away too; what would become of him?'

Chasing the Stars being wicked:  Root faints at her feet!  from The Dragon Whisperer

Root is a young gnome, the only remaining son of Bark Oakley, Scout to the Commander of the Stealth Dragon Services.  In memory of his father's bravery, Root is promoted from apprentice to esquire, an unheard of promotion because Root is a commoner.  Worse he is to be Quenelda's esquire.  To some that means advancement, fame and fortune, if they can keep up with her, but Root is almost as scared of her as he is of a battledragon that is trained to disembowel, behead or toast you.  He would much rather be a rat catcher's apprentice. 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Will He Won't He?

Two Gulps Too Many: juvenile sabretooth battledragon with a serious weight problem  Cannot stop himself snacking..on a inattentive seagull, brimstone *and* the metal cauldron, someones cloak or boots, and best of all...those honey tablets...yum.
But in Dark Dragon Dreams he has some competition...

Will he ever grow into a battledragon? Will he ever manage to fly?
Every dragon is needed in the battle to come for the fate of the Seven Kingdoms...

Monday, 17 July 2017

She found it so exciting, albeit a bit scary, and identified totally with the heroine Quenelda.

My eight-year-old daughter was given The Dragon Whisperer and couldn't put it down, although it was a much the longest [and heaviest] book that she had ever read. She found it so exciting, albeit a bit scary, and identified totally with the heroine Quenelda. I flipped through a few pages, read a bit to see what it was like, and went back to the beginning to read it all through properly and thoroughly enjoyed it [although, apart from the Lord of the Rings, I'm not normally a great fan of this genre]. It is a story of loners confronting fear and prejudice and developing as characters in a believable fantasy world with fast-paced action sequences. We lent it to a neighbour's twelve-year-old son [a connoisseur of fantasy fiction] who devoured it and asked where the sequel was.

5***** star rating - Amazon / 28th Dec 2010


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Falling for Autumn pastel colouring conservation book

When my brain was cooked by chemo I couldn't write but I could draw so I did something totally new and different...a colouring book where the artwork is true to life.   And the best medium is pastels...

 to buy

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

What's in a name? How I chose Quenelda

I've often been asked where I got the very unusual name of Quenelda from. I had virtually written a draft of The Dragon Whisperer and was still searching for that elusive name for my feisty female protagonist. I wanted a name that would suit the daughter of an old aristocratic family, but was sufficiently rare that it would help me to 'world build'. What happened? Well, it is an intriguing story in itself.

I am a newsaholic: BBC News 24 is permanently on in the background. I was passing by when I heard the mention of a polar explorer Tom Avery who led a pioneering British expedition to a previously unexplored 20-mile mountain range close to China's western border. I love watching Arctic and Antarctic exploration, but for once this was not a polar challenge; his team had scaled nine uncharted summits up to 6,000 meters high in the Eastern Zaalay Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. If you are the first to scale a mountain peak the honour of naming it falls to you.  Tom had named one of the mountains (the 5439m Pik Quenelda) after his mother, whose birthday fell on the day the team reached the summit. It was his mother who was being interviewed about the 2005 Barclays Capital Ultimate North Expedition that aimed to solve the greatest polar mystery of all time: did Commander Robert Peary discover the North Pole in 1909 in a record 37 days.   I stopped to listen, and the moment I heard her voice and saw the name Quenelda Avery, I knew I had my heroine.

A year or so later I got an email out of the blue from a London lawyer asking me where I had come across this most unusual name. He had been shopping for a Christmas present for his mother and had come upon The Dragon Whisperer.   I told him, and he replied that was his mother and brother!

Since then Quenelda and I have corresponded.  She can track her ancestry all the way back to 1066 and beyond to Scandinavia, the true origin of the name.  Three of her grandchildren have Quenelda as a middle name.  But that is not the end of this tale!  Quenelda's father's coat of arms bears a dragon!  It makes you think!

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Voice of the Voiceless

I am the Voice of the Voiceless
Through me the dumb shall speak
Till the world's deaf ear be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
Oh shame on the mothers of mortals
Who do not stoop to teach
The sorrow that lies in dear dumb eyes
The sorrow that has no speech.
From street, from cage, from kennel
From stable and from zoo
The wall of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.
But I am my brother's keeper
And I shall fight their fight
And speak the word for beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right. 

A lady ahead of her time and a great inspiration to myself and other animal rescuers ~

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

American author

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion. Her most enduring work was "Solitude", which contains the lines "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.

Born Nov. 5, 1850, Johnstown Center, Rock county, Wis., U.S.—died Oct. 30, 1919, Short Beach, Conn.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Battle of the Westering Isles

The Earl Rufus, Commander of the SDS, standing in his stirrups on Stormcracker, taken from The Battle of the Westering Isles. Finally, the SDS come head to head with the hobgoblins in the depths of winter at the Killing Caves of the Westering Isles. Cave dragons and Bonecrackers have entered the coombs and spawning pools driving the hobgoblins out onto the beaches where the heavily armed troll Marines are deployed, supported by the heavy cavalry of the Magma dragons. The cloaked Imperial's of the Dragon Lords have just engaged the hobgoblin warriors, and battle spells arc overhead...But the SDS have been betrayed...What happens next?

To find out more order your copy of The Flight to Dragon Isle, book two of The Dragonsdome Chronicles!!

Friday, 16 June 2017

I just got the book two days ago. I finished reading it last night, and it was FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just got the book two days ago. I finished reading it last night, and it was FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How's the next book coming along? Will it be the last in the series? What's it called? When will it be out? Will you do more books after the series is finished, set in the same place, or will you start something else. PLEASE TELL ME ALL ABOUT THE NEW BOOK!

Sorry if I've used too many capital letters and exclamation marks. I just can't help it!

India, aged 12 years, Australia

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Kelpies ~ Scottish folklore water horses in The Sorcerers Glen

Come to us, come to us under the sea,
Cool rolling waves will welcome thee
Come to us, come to us under the sea,
Swim in the oceans, cool, deep and free

Come to our world deep under the sea,
Where whales sing their song, their sweet melodies
Come to our world deep under the sea
Drift on the currents in our harmony.

What are kelpies?  How many of you know Scottish folklore?   Kelpies are water sprites that appear as horses at rivers and fords. Luring travelers with songs to ride them, they then dissolve back into water and drown the unfortunate victim.   Drawing as I do on Scotland for inspiration, kelpies feature in The Sorcerers Glen when Lucy has to obtain kelpies hair as one of the ingredients needed to conjure a spell to save her grandfather...My kelpies are sea horses, dissolving back from horses with foaming manes and tails to vile water creatures above.... Does Quenelda succeed? You had better buy a copy and read for yourself!

Claw of dragon swimming deep
Both awake and yet asleep
Goblin’s gob and troll toenail
Hedgewitch’s broom and kelpie’s tail    
Laughter of sun shining bright
Tears of moon in cold moonlight
In stony crown at dawn of day
Banish dark and spells away
Conjure magic old as Earth
And summon light to bring rebirth.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Beautiful Fan Artwork....

Beautiful detail in the scales....

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Before and After....writing through illustration

This is an example of a rough working illustration drafted when I was writing Flight to Dragon Isle. The pictures always come first. It's only once I have imagined a scene in my head that I then can find the words to describe it. (More about the link between writing and illustration to come soon) What magical mythical creature are Quenelda and Root flying? Remember Tangnost testing Root about the differences between hippogriffs and griffins in Chapter Ten: A Long Day's Work from The Dragon Whisperer? Answers below please and no peeking at the book unless you haven't read it, in which case its available on Amazon across Eastern Europe not just Romania, although its available in Romanian in that country!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Magic of Imagination

Many authors write about magic. In the Dragonsdome Chronicles, magic peoples the world of the Seven Sea Kingdoms with gnomes and goblins, dwarves, trolls, hobgoblins and dragons, creatures and figures from our sagas, myth and legend. The Sorcerer Lords conjure magic to rule and to protect the Kingdoms. Battledragons eat brimstone so that they can breathe fire. We love magic because we all desire to escape from the mundane world of day-to-day living, whether it is schoolwork and exams or holding down two jobs to pay the mortgage. We wish we could fly away from it all on our own dragon, wave a wand and make that irritating problem just disappear.

But magic does exist in our world: the magic of imagination. Imagination inspires our songs, poems, art, movies and music. Imagination took us to the moon and beyond. Imagination is what takes us beyond what we know, beyond what we see, hear and learn to something new, something unique that exists only in our mind. It creates new worlds for us, gives us insights into the past, and plants the seeds of our future.

When we are young we all have imagination by the bucket load. Every child has the magic of imagination at their fingertips, is willing to travel an unfamiliar road, explore an unfamiliar world unencumbered by the harsh realities of life. As we grow towards adulthood most of us have less and less time to daydream. We have to let go of childish behaviour, but sadly we all too often also let go of our childhood enthusiasms, passions and imagination at the same time. Because we don't have the time. So for the lucky few like me, being given a second chance to dip into those childhood imaginings, and to create a world from them using my life's experience to shape them into a story, is an opportunity to let my imagination take flight in order to capture yours. That's magic.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Neither Wolf Nor Dog ~ Kent Nerburn

One of the books I am currently reading is Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn;  a journey, both literally and figuratively, along forgotten roads in the Northern Dakotas, revealed by a Native American elder named Dan. Set within the stark reality of reservation life, Nerburn's thought provoking, bitter sweet narrative pulls you relentlessly into the contemporary world of the Sioux tribes, but echos the historic and cultural legacy of their treatment by white settlers, the army, and the Washington Government.   Rather than say any more I will leave it to Dan...

"When your white people first came among us, you didn't know what to think of us. <> You didn't even know if we were a people.  We welcomed you to our land.  We gave you food and smoked with you.  We taught you our ways.
We trusted the goodness in your hearts.  We tried to share with you.  But our trust was not returned.  No matter what we gave you there was always something else.  For the Spanish, it was gold. For the French, it was furs.  For the English, it was land.  But always there was something.  Always you were looking past us at something else.
We could see in your eyes you were not hearing us.  Soon we learned to be silent."

Here is a second excerpt ~ I leave you to read the rest for yourself.

We Indians can't lose what is sacred to us. WE don't have much left. What we have is in our hearts and in our ceremonies. The land is gone. It was sold by false Indians who were made into Chiefs by white people. Our sacred objects are gone. They were collected by anthropologists who put them in museums. Now there are Indians selling ceremonies in order to make money.

When they are gone, all we will have is our hearts. And without our ceremonies, our hearts will not speak.  We will be like the white man who is afraid to say the word 'God' out loud and goes around trying to buy sacred ceremonies from other people.  We will have the same hunger in our hearts and the same silence on our lips.

I don't want us to be this way.  I want us to have something that does not have a price.  If we don't, my grandchildren who are not yet born are already dead.

  But always there was something..

More recently the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline, controversially approved by Donald Trump, despite months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe...

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Tangnost Bearhugger

Tangnost Bearhugger, legendary Bonecracker Commando of the III First Born Regiment of the Stealth Dragon Services, now Dragonmaster to the Earl Rufus DeWinter. One of the central characters in The Dragonsdome Chronicles, he was invalided out of the SDS after sixty years on Imperial Blacks, and is now mentor and protector of the Earl's headstrong daughter Quenelda. He is entrusted with the safekeeping of Dragonsdome in the Earl's absence, including the breeding of Imperials and Sabretooth battledragons, and the training of esquires.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Black Hawk Down, We Have a Black Hawk Down...Vampire Down, We have a Vampire Down...

One of the great war movies, (Battle of Mogadishu in 1993) directed by Ridley Scott, and the greatest sound track composer in the world: the amazing Hans Zimmer... Black Hawks are the inspiration for Vampire Battledragons.....substitute helicopters for living battledragons in your mind's eye....imagine a wounded dragon spiraling down earthwards out of control...a wing broken, smoke from its nostrils showing its rapid descent....until it ploughs into the ground...Vampire down, we have a vampire down...the tragedy of war with the WarLock King that Quenelda will not accept..dragon should not fight dragon...what will happen?  Dark Dragon Dreams to be published for Christmas five of The Dragonsdome Chronicles.

The inspiration for Vampire Battledragons.....

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Inspiration from the Wars of the Roses, the White Rose of York and the Dragon of Henry Tudor

the Welsh Flag 

Well, like so many fantasy authors I draw on history for inspiration for the worlds I create. In this case inspiration for The Dragonsdome Chronicles goes all the way back to early childhood, a story waiting to be told. As a child and throughout my teens I was and still am fascinated by the War of the Roses: the white rose of York v the red rose of Lancaster. A rivalry that went back to John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III who became the first Duke of Lancaster, younger brother of the Prince of Wales, also known as the Black Prince, the name Darcy comes to be known by in The Stealth Dragon Services.

I remember when I was very, very young, maybe seven or eight years young, reading a Ladybird book about Richard Neville, known as Warwick the King Maker, and I was hooked. Amazingly when I googled this today, up it came on several sites with a book cover that I could still see in my mind's eye from all those years ago! 

I have been to his castle at Middleham in Yorkshire around five times, and it was here that Richard III was raised as a ward.   The dragon sigil was first used by Henry VII (grandson of a Welsh commoner Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur who married Henry V's French widow Catherine of Valois) at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, where Richard III was betrayed, and the Plantagenet dynasty ended; after which it was carried in state to St Paul's Cathedral. The red dragon was then included as a supporter of the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959.

Coat of arms of Henry VII, showing a Welsh Dragon as a supporter on the Royal arms of England

Coat of arms of Henry VIII, his son, infamous for his six wives!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Impact of War on Children

On a sad but serious note, war is a reality for countless children across the world who are raised in a war zone, or who have family or friends deployed in a war. I wanted the Dragonsdome Chronicles to reflect this, and so the story is set against the seemingly endless Third Hobgoblin War. All the central characters, both dragons and people, have and will be affected to a lesser or greater degree; and so at its heart, The Dragon Whisperer is a tale of loss and loneliness, injury and death, and love and friendship. It is about broken families, betrayal, and the need to be wanted and accepted for who you are rather than than conform to what others and society expect you to be.

The Dragon Whisperer

The story begins with Quenelda using her unique gift to help Tangnost Bearhugger treat and heal a badly injured Sabretooth battledragon, an unheard of achievement. Injured battledragons are, as a rule, put down, and rightly so since dragons that are trained to flame, decapitate and disembowel are doubly dangerous when wounded. With her much loved father (Commander of the elite Stealth Dragon Services) continually absent at war, Quenelda has grown up around the dragonpads and roosts of Dragonsdome. So no surprise then that Quenelda, with her unique bond with dragons, wants to fight at his side and become a Dragon Lord, one of those elite few who fly the great Imperial Black stealth battledragons.

Shunned and mocked by the young ladies at Court for this very peculiar ambition, for dressing in boy's clothes and flying dragons, this aristocratic and wealthy girl only has her dragons as companions. And there is one dragon in particular: as a reward for helping Tangnost and to keep her out of trouble, Quenelda is given a battledragon of her own: Two Gulps & You're Gone. Two Gulps himself is a proud, stubborn cave battledragon trained to hunt out and kill hobgoblins in the combs and tunnels that riddle the highlands. Without his injury and Quenelda's skill, he would have died. Now they have a bond without which they would not go on to save her father's life. 

From Quenelda's life the story swiftly moves to that of Bark Oakly, the Earl's chief scout who tracks hobgoblins in underground combs and tunnels. With the gnome's brave death, his young son Root finds himself elevated from apprentice to esquire, something unheard of for a commoner. This is not the first time tradgedy has struck Root. When he was just six his entire family and community, his warren, were wiped out by a maurauding hobgoblin warband. Now with his father also gone, Root is left on his own, isolated and unwanted and bullied by the other esquires, all of whom are sorcerers.

It is Root's loss caused by the war and Quenelda's ambition to fight with her father in the war that brings these two lonely youngsters together, as a result of which they, along with their dragons, are able to face and overcome a deadly threat to the Earl and the Seven Sea Kingdoms.

Guiding and guarding them all is the legendary Dragon Master, Tangnost Bearhugger, veteran Bonecracker commando, invalided out of the SDS after sixty years service on Imperial Blacks. It falls to him to raise and train esquires for war and to oversea the welfare of Dragonsdome's battledragons. With his own sons all dead in the war Tangnost looks on Quenelda as his own daughter and raises her as if she were the Earl's heir, imparting his great dragon lore and knowledge so that she will be fit one day to take her rightful place.

With a great battle looming between the SDS and the hobgoblin banners, and treason and betrayal brewing at the heart of the Sorcerer's Guild, the cost of war to the peoples and dragons of the Seven Sea Kingdoms can only grow ever greater, following their Flight to Dragon Isle.  I will return to the theme of war and how it impacts on Quenelda, Root and their dragons in later blogs.

Royal Air Force 

Quenelda's struggle to become a Dragon Lord, to pilot a stealth battledragon has mirrored real life. In 1994 Flight Lieutenant Jo Salter became the first operational fast jet pilot, flying Tornados with 617 Squadron. Since then, female pilots have flown operationally in various theaters, including Afghanistan and Iraq.  On 7 March 2008 Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman became the first woman to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  In March 2009, Flt Lt Kirsty Moore of 13 Squadron was appointed the first female pilot in the Red Arrows.

Join the RAF 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Artwork from my youngest fan ~ aged 6 years!!!

Amazing illustrations by Iris who was given The Dragon Whisperer on her 6th birthday! These drawings were packaged in a lovely illustrated envelope forwarded by her grandparents.  Given that the intended audience are strong readers aged 9 years young + it is wonderful to have captured the imagination of a younger reader.
any other young readers out there?  Russia?  Romania?  Australia?  UK? South Korea? Germany?  France? 
with artwork of your own you would like to share?

Monday, 8 May 2017

A Bit of Fun ~ moving house

Every now and then I find time for a little bit of fun!  This is a watercolour of my family moving out to Lasswade some twenty odd years ago, with all our animals. That is me driving!!  Once I get my digital printer working this will be available as a print.  Meantime, how many birds and animals can you spot?   And how many of you draw or paint?  Lots of pupils and teachers have said they cannot, but everyone has an imagination, just dip into it and the paint pot!!  

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The story skilfully weaves a fantasy world that is utterly convincing.....

Quenelda is passionate about dragons. She also has a special ability to communicate with them, an innate gift the importance of which only her father and the elderly dragon master know. Her father, commander of the most feared battle-dragon regiment in Dragonsdome, allows her to spend her days in the company of dragons, honing her riding skills and learning to care for them. Dreading the day when she must swap her boots and breeches for lace and silk and join the other young girls at court, she begs her father to allow her to continue her dragon education a while longer. Her ambition is to accompany him into battle, swooping through the skies on her scaly mount. He agrees to postpone her court debut, provided she trains seriously by taking on young Root as apprentice. Root is her opposite: newly orphaned, he’s fearful, timid and inept, with no enthusiasm for dragons. But gradually, from their relationship grow friendship and loyalty – and also self-awareness – traits essential to combating the gathering storm of treachery, sorcery and evil that is encircling the realm.

The story skilfully weaves a fantasy world that is utterly convincing, peopled with humans, gnomes, hobgoblins and many-hued dragons. The writing is energetic, poetic at times, with vivid descriptions of landscape adding atmosphere and mood. By the end of the book, many of the story threads remain unresolved so whetting the reader’s appetite and leaving room for a sequel, which is due to be published shortly. David Wyatt’s finely hatched drawings echo the richness of the story.

Reviewer: Anne Faundez

Books for Keeps is the UK’s leading, independent children’s book magazine. It was launched in 1980 and ever since has been reviewing hundreds of new children’s books each year and publishing articles on every aspect of writing for children. There are over 12,500 reviews on our new website and more than 2,000 articles including interviews with the top children’s authors and illustrators.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Artwork from The Sorcerers Glen

Artwork from The Sorcerers Glen
status ~ have a submission in to a leading independent Scottish publisher 
so cross tails & talons

The Fifth Dimension needs a do I!
Book One

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Dragon Whispering with Parkhead Primary......West Calder Midlothian

Telling the story with illustrations...

The Winter Joust re-enactment
Getting the knights into armour and on their dragons
half the class supporting a knight

Dragon drawing...

Me next - a knight has been defeated.  Time for someone else to take to the lists...
originally posted 2011

Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Brilliant Book

The Dragon Whisper is a book all fantasy lovers should read, set in a land where there is a raging war between the hobgoblins and the dragon masters. All fabulous creatures known appear in this book from dwarves to dragons to hobgoblins. Lucinda Hare made Quenelda a very unique life like character with her temper and love for dragons, it made her seem so real and I doubt there has ever been a character like her.
Quenelda has a magical bond with dragons she can talk to them in her thoughts and her dream is to fight in the war against the hobgoblins but Root on the other hand his greatest wish is to stay as far away from dragons as possible, but when Root becomes Quenelda's esquire, sparks begin to fly...
I thoroughly recommend that you read this book but although it was a brilliant book I do think Lucinda Hare did try to put too many things into it meaning it could become a bit confusing.
Alice, aged 11

Waterstone's Richmond Junior Review Club

Friday, 28 April 2017

Monday, 24 April 2017

Finding my inner Dragon Whisperer by Helena Gibney of OneKind

A whirlwind. That is the only way I can think to describe adequately the presence of the fascinating, energetic, gifted Lucinda Hare, author of children's fantasy novel The Dragon Whisperer - a book which has recently been taking the already saturated and hard-to-break fantasy novel genre by storm.

Having heard that The Dragon Whisperer was something of an allegory about human relationships with animals, I decided recently to have a read of it. Then I found out that the author is a fan of ours, and, much to my surprise and delight, I had even had conversations with her on Facebook without realising it. It turns out she's passionate about the idea of OneKind, and feels that OneKind world is the kind of world her stories stand for. So, next thing I know, we're emailing, and she's coming in to meet us.

And what a force this woman is. Having grown up among the hunting set in rural Scotland, she, like myself in fact, has been battling the contradictions of the wildlife-loving and wildlife-decimating rural cliques since childhood. She rejected the values she was expected to grow up with, and embraced the animal kingdom with an unconditional compassion I don't think I've ever quite seen before. This lady takes in the rejects and strays that no-one else wants, and her house is overrun with numerous beautifully cared for and deeply loved dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ex-battery hens... You name it, one probably lives in Lucinda's house. Her every last penny goes on vet’s bills.

She recounts story after story to me of each of her companions, and I get a true sense not only of these animals' hilarious individual quirks and personalities, but also of her deep love and respect for them all. And it is these creatures, these personalities and friends, who inspired her to write the book, as a tribute to the incredible relationship between human and animal, and as a plea to us all to respect the animals with whom we share this world. So, what of the book?

Well, don't get me wrong, I loved Harry Potter, but fantasy novels aren't usually my thing. My preference is to recline with a glass of red and some Virginia Woolf and unwittingly lull myself into a mild depression of an evening. However, this book really caught my attention. Just like the author (I should have known) the story is a whirlwind; it swept me into an entrancing world which was, yes, fantastical, but also strangely recognisable. I recognised myself in the leading character, a young girl who is the eponymous 'Dragon Whisperer', and I recognised our world, the real world, in the fantasy land I found on those pages.

The fact that the leading character is a girl appealed to the aforementioned Virginia Woolf in me. Not in a clichéd, 'gutsy girl goes out and kicks ass against all expectations' way, but in a genuine way: this girl, Quenelda is her name, is living the day-to-day challenges of being a little bit different, challenging the norms, and having to exceed all expectations to prove her worth.

But not only must she prove herself, she must also convince the doubting others around her of the worth of the beloved creatures all around them: the dragons. The dragons represent all the Earth's animals in so many ways; Lucinda herself even told me that each dragon is based on one of her own numerous animal companions. These dragons, seen merely as dangerous yet useful tools by many of the book's characters, are individuals, each with their quirks, feelings, desires.

The story, in much the same way that it doesn't over-romanticise the everyday trials of the female protagonist, doesn't over-romanticise the realities of sharing the world with dragons either. Like all animals, these dragons have distinct personalities and would prefer to live their own way. They can be grumpy, dangerous, unpredictable – just like humans, in fact. But all that is needed to overcome the volatile dragons is simple respect, patience and compassion. All that we need to do to live and work and share this world with animals is to build a relationship with them, like we would with any human.

Quenelda has the gift of being able to talk to the dragons, and I spent much of my time reading this book fantasising about what the world would be like if animals could only speak to us. But Lucinda believes very strongly that they do. Anyone who's ever had a relationship with any kind of animal knows that they communicate. Maybe we're just not listening hard enough.

Lucinda has already finished her next book, and I'm genuinely excited. What I'm also excited about is the multitude of ideas that Lucinda has for ways in which we can work together to spread the message to kids that animals have feelings and personalities. Lets show these kids a world where respect for animals is no fantasy.

Helena Gibney was a fundraiser for OneKind which exists to end cruelty to Scotland's wildlife, pets, and other animals through campaigns, research & education.

First posted 2011