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

Sunday, 23 April 2017

I Found Your Dog Today

As you know animal rescue, adoption and protection has been at the heart of my entire life.   I have a large rescued furry family: because people still breed and buy, because too many will not neuter and spay, because too many are abandoned, because people who do not care for animals nonetheless have them.  For a nation of animal lovers cruelty and neglect and abandonment are still common in the UK, and many are blind to that knowledge.  We have laws to prosecute those who do all these things, but sometimes neglect and abandonment are done out of ignorance.   And animals die.  There are millions and millions of homeless and abandoned street animals who suffer profoundly by our hand. Just one story....and I defy you not to weep.  

I found your dog today. No, he has not been adopted by anyone. Most of us who live out here own as many dogs as we want, those who do not own dogs do so because they choose not to. I know you hoped he would find a good home when you left him out here, but he did not. When I first saw him he was miles from the nearest house and he was alone, thirsty, thin and limping from a burr in his paw.

How I wish I could have been you as I stood before him. To see his tail wag and his eyes brighten as he bounded into your arms, knowing you would find him, knowing you had not forgotten him. To see the forgiveness in his eyes for the suffering and pain he had known in his never-ending quest to find you... but I was not you. And despite all my persuasion, his eyes see a stranger. He did not trust. He would not come. He turned and continued his journey; one he was sure would bring him to you.

He does not understand you are not looking for him. He only knows you are not there, he only knows he must find you. This is more important than food or water or the stranger who can give him these things. Persuasion and pursuit seemed futile;

I did not even know his name. I drove home, filled a bucket with water and a bowl with food and returned to where we had met. I could see no sign of him, but I left my offering under the tree where he had sought shelter from the sun and a chance to rest.

You see, he is not of the desert. When you domesticated him, you took away any instinct of survival out here. His purpose demands that he travel during the day. He doesn't know that the sun and heat will claim his life. He only knows that he has to find you.

I waited hoping he would return to the tree; hoping my gift would build an element of trust so I might bring him home, remove the burr from his paw, give him a cool place to lie and help him understand that the part of his life with you is now over. He did not return that morning and at dusk the water and food were still there untouched. And I worried. You must understand that many people would not attempt to help your dog. Some would run him off, others would call the county and the fate you thought you saved him from would be preempted by his suffering for days without food or water. I returned again before dark. I did not see him. I went again early the next morning only to find the food and water still untouched. If only you were here to call his name. Your voice is so familiar to him.

I began pursuit in the direction he had taken yesterday, doubt overshadowing my hope of finding him. His search for you was desperate, it could take him many miles in 24 hours. It is hours later and a good distance from where we first met, but I have found your dog.

His thirst has stopped, it is no longer a torment to him. His hunger has disappeared, he no longer aches. The burrs in his paws bother him no more. Your dog has been set free from his burdens, you see, your dog has died. I kneel next to him and I curse you for not being here yesterday so I could see the glow, if just for a moment, in those now vacant eyes. I pray that his journey has taken him to that place I think you hoped he would find.

If only you knew what he went through to reach it... and I agonize, for I know, that were he to awaken at this moment, and (if) I were to be you, his eyes would sparkle with recognition and his tail would wag with forgiveness.

What can you do?


Don't breed or buy while others die.
Spay & neuter
Adopt one by one
until there are none
never abandon an animal
take it to a none kill shelter or rescue


Friday, 21 April 2017

Childhood Artwork ~ Lord of the Rings

I have drawn for as long as I can remember.  Birthday and Christmas presents were invariably pads of paper, pens or paints.   At age 11 years I discovered Lord of the Rings, a book that changed my life; it is still my favourite book in the world  (George RR Martin has become a similar adult passion).   I left behind George Armstrong Custer, Chief Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, Erwin Rommel and the Desert Corps, Rome and the warriors of Greece, for Lord of the Rings. It combined everything I was passionate about; history...the Anglo Saxons and their Middle Earth (the horse lords of Rohan), the Nordic Sagas with Gandalf and Gimli and their runes (the dwarves).   This is a Boromir defending the Hobbits; an original childhood drawing but tidied up...  Sagas, legends and fairy tales...all brought together for the first time by Tolkien....I wish I had met him.  I have worn out three copies till they fell apart....he created a world I still live in and love...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

If you talk to the animals...

Once again child hood inspiration came from Native American beliefs...many like myself know we can talk to animals.  It harks back to a time when mankind's survival depended upon rhythms of nature and all its myriad creatures.  Each and every species has a language of its own, and learning to talk to animals can change your life.  All of us have that ability. Sadly, mankind has a long way to go to return to that realisation that all things are inextricably interconnected.  We ignore and exploit the natural world and its gifts to our peril.  'Just animals' is used as justification for the most appalling exploitation and cruelty towards sentient creatures.   I talk to animals, and so not surprisingly, Quenelda talks to dragons...they are not 'just animals'.  This underlying theme plays a growing role in The Dragonsdome Chronicles.

If you talk to the animals...


If you talk to the animals
they will talk with you
and you will know each other.
If you do not talk to them
you will not know them,
and what you do not know you will fear.
What one fears one destroys.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Characteristics of Sabretooth Battledragons

Can you tell a Sabretooth from a Spitting Adder? Would you know a battledragon when you see one, or would it be too late by the time you did? All that would be left would be a greasy pyramid of ash on the floor! Ooops!

If he is going to be one of Dragondome's esquires, Root has a lot to learn about Sabretooths and Two Gulps & You're Gone in particular. Tangnost is going to test him and some other young esquires next week. Quester has given his friend a list of the battledragon's characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, and has explained how the SDS deploy them. How many of the list below do you already know? And no looking at The Dragon Whisperer!
  • Sabretooths are cave dragons
  • They are coloured from gorse-yellow through to flaming red tail
  • They are of stocky build and have small but powerful wings
  • They have huge incisors - all the better to eat you with...
  • They can flame up to fifty strides
  • Their hide is scaled like a snake rather than armoured
  • They have huge hind feet with six sharp talons to mash and crush hobgoblins. You can hear the thunder of their feet as they approach

Sabretooths are used to hunt hobgoblins in their caves, driving them up and out into the waiting maws of the SDS Dragon Lords on their Imperial Blacks. They can carry two up, a pilot/rider and a bowman. With their stocky powerful build and small powerful wings, Sabretooths are ideal for manoeuvring in confined spaces. But, on the downside, because of their stubby wings they cannot fly very far or very fast, and are often transported on battlegalleons or on the backs of Imperial Blacks. Their scales can stop an arrow but not a cleaver or spear thrust so they have to wear additional heavy dragon armour. And as everyone knows, Sabretooths are *very* temperamental and difficult to handle. Only experienced esquires and above are allowed to handle and groom them.

So...would you like to become one of Tangnost's apprentices at Dragonsdome?

Monday, 10 April 2017

A Magical Name....

Have you thought about where your surname came from?   When you write fantasy you think a lot about names; making them up is far harder than you can imagine!   But your own name may be just as interesting. For a passionate animal lover and activist I am blessed with the magical name Hare; hares have a long history in nature, poetry, history, folklore, art, gods and magic.  I will come back to the role of the hare in Celtic culture, and the affinity of early peoples with nature and all its creatures. 
Here is just one example, a poem about the witch-hare by Walter De La Mare which has meaning for me, because when I walked the fields and woods as a child, I sometimes saw leverets lying still in the furrowed fields at autumn......magical....

In the black furrow of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked her lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled o' the green;
And I whispered 'Whsst! witch-hare,'
Away like a ghostie o'er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.

Walter de la Mare

Hare Preservation Trust 

some more beautiful fan artwork...

Keep the artwork coming....

Friday, 7 April 2017

Harrier dragons inspired by Harrier Jump Jets

Ok, you know from the Dragonsdome Chronicles that the SDS is inspired by the British SAS and the dragons by RAF and American fighter jets and bombers, The high end military technology and jagon the SDS deploy is meshed with a medieval world, bringing something totally new to the fantasy genre.   Not everyone is into the SDS and their battles, so I keep the battles short, but which aircraft inspired which dragon?  Where did the inspiration come from for my personal favourite: Harrier dragons, good at hovering, deployed by the SDS in S&R?  From the world's first vertical take off fighter, originally developed by UK manufacturer Hawker Siddely in the 1960s.

Believe it or not the RAF have controversially mothballed this fabulous jump jet following a defense review in 2010, but the US Marines are still operating the AV 8B.  This above is a US Navy photo of an AV Harrier assigned to a Marine Attack Squadron 542 preparing to take off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan.  This photo of RAF fighters en route to the USA.

When I was very young the Royal Navy conducted a major war exercise out on the River Forth.  Our house was up on a cliff with an unimpeded view.  Harrier jump jets passed overhead every day.  We used to wave at the pilots.  There is no other fighter jet to match the Harrier.  Vectored thrust means they can take off vertically, they can go backwards, they can just stop in mid-air. A Harrier came over the sea towards the cliffs out of sight and then rose up into view right in front of us.  It was just awesome. I've been passionate about this aircraft ever since, watching it in action over the Falklands, seeing a formation display with helicopters where the harrier was going backwards.  For years we went to RAF Leuchars open day, where I watched their displays and stood in a queue mostly made up of boys, so I could sit in the cockpit.  I also knew someone working on the Harrier's Blue Fox radar, and met some Indian pilots who would fly the Harrier. I have Harrier decals on my motorcycle helmet.  But where did the name Harrier come from?  And apart from the attributes of a jump jet, what would a Harrier dragon looks like?  Where did Hawker Siddely get their inspiration from?  From our harrier hawk birds of prey of course ~ they are magnificent...hovering above their in the end my harrier dragons are inspired by harrier birds of prey...I'll come back to them in another blog..

There are two generations and four variants of the Harrier ~ the Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR1 and GR3 followed by the British Aerospace FRS1 Sea Harrier which fought in the Falklands, the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier and the British Aerospace Harrier II

    Monday, 3 April 2017

    Thistledown crossed the rainbow bridge in my arms today killed by FIP

    She is only four and a half years young
    we fought it but lost
    She crossed the rainbow bridge to join Ptarmigan (on left)
    who also was killed by fip 3 years ago aged two years young
    She was under the care of the Royal Dick Vet 
    fip one of the most hateful and insidious killers of young cats globally 
    it attacks young cats with compromised immune systems
    all my street cats have had to battle just to survive and
    that makes them high risk
    there is no cure for this virus

    my first photo of Thistledown when she was first rescued from the streets of Bucharest.  The damage to her eyes is obvious

    Thursday, 30 March 2017

    Ок, время для некоторых русских драконов ...

    ОК, пришло время нам было несколько русских драконов, не так ли? Я скоро начну соревнование для иллюстраций для Волшебников Глен, так что будем надеяться, что у нас есть русские записи

    Wednesday, 29 March 2017

    USA Finding Wonderland YA Blog ~ reviews ~ Recommended for Fans Of...: The Lord of the Rings. No, seriously. Also, fans of the Eragon series, the Harry Potter book, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, Cornelia Funke's Igraine the Brave, Sherwood Smith's Wren to the Rescue series, Patricia Wrede's Dealing With Dragons series, and etc., ad infinitum. will find something here to love.

    WCOB Wednesday: The Dragonsdome Chronicles

    It's time for another Wicked Cool Wednesday!

    The book I'll chat about today comes by its "overlooked" status by virtue of the fact that it came out in 2009 - not sure if there was a time difference to when the novel came out in the US vs. the UK, but it's out, and it's been out, and I haven't heard a word about it. I know very well that some of the fantasy fans in the room would really love this one, so here goes:

    Y'know, it's not every day that I turn the pages of a book of high fantasy for the middle grade audiences.

    For some reason, books of high fantasy in general seem to be a dying breed. Add in the age factor, and you've got tumbleweeds rolling across the plains -- high fantasy seems to be written with gamers and guys in mind, not middle grade kids, or girls.

    Reader Gut Reaction: Our title is The Dragon Whisperer, by Lucinda Hare.

    This book is classic high fantasy. It's got language -- it doesn't stint on those rich descriptive details, full of vivid colors, sounds, and smells. It's got unspeakable evil, and a just war. It's got heroes and heroines, queens and quislings, traitors and tacticians and ... it's like reading a middle grade version of Lord of the Rings, but with hobgoblins, gnomes, dwarves, and ...prejudice.

    Eh, what's that, you ask? Yes, prejudice. Actually, there's a bit of that in the most classic of high fantasy novels, the LOTR series. You'll recall - elves wafting around being superior to dwarves, dwarves believing themselves to be superior to hobbits. The Dragon Whisperer adds human beings, which means there's hardcore issues between people. It's all dealt with - subtly. Which is A Good Thing.

    There are Evil Beings in this book - there are questionable people, of course, and there are hobgoblins, which are a bit inhuman, which is helpful in differentiating Good Guys from Bad Guys. They're also kept away from the reader, so though we see their movements, we're only given to understand what's going on, a little at the time. The periodic visits to their settlement definitely up the dread factor, as the reader realizes there's Trouble Afoot before the heroine.

    Overall, the story arc is good - the characters grow and change, and there's plenty of room for a sequel, yet the story episode is tied together sufficiently.

    Concerning Character: Our heroine, Quenelda DeWinter is eleven, and human. She loves her father, her dashing half-brother, Darcy, and the battledragons which protect the kingdom. She has always wanted to fly with her father, who is the commander of the Stealth Dragon Services (SDS), and the Queen's champion, though her brother has shown a complete disinterest in the greater dragons, and prefers the pomp and ceremony of the unicorn guard.

    The kingdom is at war with the hobgoblins, and it has been brutal. There has been much death, and many dragons have been sacrificed to the cause. Quenelda is unlike other girls her age, and wants to do something about it. The trouble is, with her flights of fancy and dreams of glory, no one takes her seriously. There has never been a girl in the SDS. Ever.

    The war has left gnome Root Oakley without a family or a place. Because of his father's valor on behalf of the Queen, he has gone from being an apprentice dragonmaster for the dwarf, Tangnost, to being the esquire of Earl DeWinter's daughter. It was bad enough working around hippogriffs (squee!), griffins, unicorns, and lesser dragons, cleaning their tack, scooping up their poo, and caring for their fodder, but now he's expected to go near a battledragon -- and fly after the Earl's daughter?! She hates him! And, there have never been gnomes who ride dragons. Ever.

    You see the problem...

    Recommended for Fans Of...: The Lord of the Rings. No, seriously. Also, fans of the Eragon series, the Harry Potter book, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, Cornelia Funke's Igraine the Brave, Sherwood Smith's Wren to the Rescue series, Patricia Wrede's Dealing With Dragons series, and etc., ad infinitum. will find something here to love.
    Themes & Things:I've already mentioned the theme of prejudice - who we like and why is subtly put forth as an idea, and embroidered upon. Are there right "people" to like, and wrong ones? Does it matter who someone's mother was, or if they don't know? Readers will find themselves indignant at some of Quenelda's unthinking assumptions, and learn along with her how much it hurts to be on the receiving end of an assumption. The other clear theme in this book is friendship, trust, and Doing The Thing You Think You Cannot Do. Too young, too small, too weak, too scared, too hurt, too shy -- none of that matters when Right needs to be done. Real heroines and heroes have to suck it up, and step up to the plate.

    Despite the myriad details going on in the books dealing with Treachery and Dark Forces, that friendship comes through as a clean and bright thing... much like in books about a boy wizard, which means this series will be doubly endearing to many.

    Authorial Asides: As previously mentioned, this is Lucinda Hare's first book. A creative writer and illustrator, this Scotswoman was introduced to Tolkien at the age of eleven, and her love for that history, legend, and fantasy seriously informs this book, in a tribute kind of way that is a touch derivative, but respectful, and provides an entry into the genre for younger readers. Hare slips readers deftly into her world, and confidently pilots them through a bewildering array of names and cultures and makes it all seem easy. Through her skill, I was able to read the book in one sitting, and discover the glossary after I finished reading it.

    Amusingly, the one word which wasn't defined that I had to have a moment's thought over was haar -- which I then realized I knew. It's a word that means a yellowy thick sea fog, in Scots English. I've heard that one before!

    As previously stated, this book came out in 2009. A sequel, Flight to Dragon's Isle followed just last year, and is already highly sought after (there's a bit of a line) at the library (which is where I got this copy, FCC, thanks).

    You can find THE DRAGON WHISPERER, and its sequel, at an independent bookstore near you!
    Originally posted Aug 3rd 2011