Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Blogs to come...

Black Holes &  Dark Matter & their inspiration for Maelstrom Magic & the Abyss

Stealth bombers, fighter jets and attack helicopters that inspired SDS battledragon breeds and their characteristics..

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Rhymes and Riddles in Fantasy

Once very popular games (before the days of TV, computers and mobiles phones), riddles and rhymes are still an essential part of fantasy.  Whom amongst us did not delight in cracking the code of Tolkien's dwarf runes?   I still remember doing that with a pencil and a dog eared copy of the Hobbit.  Riddles challenge both the story's characters, and their readers.  Who cracks them first?  Who can foresee where the story is taking them?

Rhymes are difficult for me as I never know where the story is taking me until I finish the book.  But I love them, and the challenge of creating rhyming riddles is as rewarding as finding the answers.  So here is a teaser from The Sorcerers Glen for which I hope to find a traditional publisher soon.


For those who wish to come and go
Through hidden door you must bow low
Beneath both tree and mountain high
To where the water meets the sky
The Dragon's breath will point the way
And wither then, well who can say?
But should you seek forbidden gold
Beware the guardian of old...
So mortal man you must beware
Of stepping in the dragon's lair.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Map of the Seven Sea Kingdoms


Original draft...a few details have changed since then!  Can you spot
some of the similarities?






Saturday, 11 March 2017

Life as a Scottish Author

I spent most of my childhood wandering woods and beaches in East Lothian in Scotland watching the wildlife and dreaming. There were deer and foxes, pheasant and hares. Being a passionate animal lover I knew there used to be wolves and bears and beavers, and if they no longer existed, then I imagined them. I used to gaze across from Johnny the Elf’s Wood towards Dirleton castle, imagining Edward I besieging it, and later Cromwell’s forces taking it by storm. The very name Archerfield evoked the past; I grew up where the archers from the castle used to practice! As a student on an elderly BSA motorbike, I went pretty much everywhere else from Orkney to the Scottish Borders, camping in Glen Coe in the snow, and exploring countless ruined castles, mostly in the rain. I never needed to look further than my own childhood for ideas as an author – there is a wealth of Scottish history to plunder for inspiration.So it’s no surprise that the Dragonsdome chronicles are set in the Seven Sea Kingdoms, inspired by the Celtic sea kingdoms of old. Observant readers will have noticed that the map at the beginning of The Dragon Whisperer is modelled on Scotland, and yes, not exactly, the geography is not always the same, but you can spot the similarities between the Western Isles and the Westering Isles, the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Midges, Glen More and the Never Ending Glen, the Cairngorms and the Brimstones. The first two books are set in The Sorcerers Glen at the heart of the kingdoms, on the Black Isle and Dragon Isle, dark volcanic islands that rise out of a deep sea loch: but the third in the series, Dragon Lords Rising, takes us out into the wider world beyond the Brimstones and the Old Wall (yes, you guessed, Hadrian’s Wall, the northern frontier of the Romans in Britain) to the Ice Isles in the north. Just like Scotland there is magic and mystery, there are thistle dragons and honey tablets…what more could an author want?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Review of The Dragon Whisperer ~ This is a beautifully turned tale that will appeal to young adults and old, alike

This is a beautifully turned tale that will appeal to young adults and old, alike. Dragons and vampires seem to be "the thing" at the moment, and it's all too easy for the idea to become stale, but Lucinda Hare keeps the story fresh and alive - replete then, with heroes, villains, dragons, hobgoblins, dwarves, sorcerers and a plot that defies you to put down the book (with only one copy in the house I had a daily fight on my hands to keep hold of it). I loved the way the dragons were named (indian style - "Two Gulps and You're Gone"!) and Root the Gnome injects some good humour into the plot. It's also beautifully illustrated by David "Peter Pan in Scarlet" Wyatt, who does an excellent job as usual. Lucinda Hare though, is an equally talented artist, and I do wonder why she did not do the illustrations herself, her work is beautiful. This book has everything you could ask for really, so if you're still reading this, I gotta ask - "What are you doing!!?? Place "The Dragon Whisperer" into your shopping cart, click "Purchase" and make yourself comfortable by the letterbox `til this tumbles into your lap - it's well worth the wait!"

***** 5 star review
Steve S, South Wales
Amazon

Friday, 3 March 2017

Romanian review of IMBLANZITORUL DRAGONILOR (The Dragon Whisperer)



Bono va recomanda o lectura irezistibila despre prietenia dintre noi, oamenii, si animalele care, ca si noi, au personalitate si sentimente. Dragonii, care sunt priviti ca unelte periculoase dar utile de catre majoritatea personajelor cartii, au diverse trairi si dorinte. Eroina principala, domnita Quenelda, vrea sa ii convinga pe cei din jurul sau ca aceste creaturi sunt minunate si merita tot respectul si dragostea noastra. Dragonii sunt, de fapt, un simbol al tuturor arina si Bono ♥ nimalelor pamantului si copiii, dar si adultii, invata de aici ca poate exista o lume unde respectul pentru animalelor este o realitate. Lectura placuta!! 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Hobgoblins ~ fiction or history?



Sir Hugo Mandrake is the darkly charming Grand Master of the Sorcerers Guild.  In the Dragonsdome Chronicles this Warlock betrays his kindred and allies with the hobgoblins.  Fact or fiction?  History or fantasy?

I was brought up in East Lothian to the east of Edinburgh in Scotland.    East Lothian is steeped in history; Roman, Saxon, Norman and medieval mingled with ballads, myth and legends.   There are many castles: Dunbar, Tantallon, Hailes, and Dirleton, and one not so well known because little of it remains ~ Yester Castle.  The original stone keep , a thick walled tower like that of the Tower of London, the heart of all Norman castles, was built around 1267.  It's now a ruin in the woods close to the village of Gifford, south of Haddington.  My Sir Hugo DeMandrake (yes, name inspired by the Normans) might well be Sir Hugo de Giffard, known as the Wizard of Yester...a powerful warlock and necromancer.  Sir Hugo was a grandson of the first Laird of Yester, and served as guardian to the young Alexander III of Scotland. Sound familiar?  And whereas Sir Hugo DeMandrake twisted dragons using baleful maelstrom magic in the dungeons to summon his army of hobgoblins, so Sir Hugo was said to exercise sorcery in the under croft, commanding an army of hobgoblins who built the castle for him. Named the Goblin Ha' or Goblin Hall as a result, the subterranean hall is about 37 feet long with a high vaulted roof and is dug into the original motte, or mound that surrounded the bailey, the defensive wall.   Early maps call it the Hobgoblin Ha'.   The local pub in Gifford where I had lunch today, is called the Goblin Ha'.  Fantasy or fact?  You decide!


Hugo de Giffard was immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in Marmion as a wizard and the founder of Goblin Ha ~ 

'A clerk could tell what years have flown since Alexander filled our throne third monarch of that warlike name, and eke the time when here he came to seek Sir Hugo, then our lord: A braver never drew a sword, a wiser never, at the hour of midnight, spoke the word of power; the same, that ancient records call the founder of Goblin hall"----"Lord Gifford deep beneath the ground heard Alexander's bugle sound, and tarried not his garb to change, but, in his wizard habit strange, came forth, —, a quaint and fearful sight: His mantle lined with fox-skins white; His high and wrinkled forehead bore a pointed cap, such as of yore Pharaoh's Magi wore; His shoes were marked with cross and spell, upon his breast a pentacle"----"and in his hand a naked sword without a guard'.  1808.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Colourful Fan Artwork....all the colours of the rainbow...


Drawing dragons is magical...because the only limit is your imagination!  Unlike other animals dragons can be any shape or size or colour you want it to be!  There is not a person on the planet who could not create a dragon of their own and it doesn't matter one whit if you think you cannot draw...yes you can!  Have some fun and give it a go.

Dragons from the Dragonsdome Chronicles you might like to draw ~

Dancing with Dragons ~ our protagonist...you have to read a few of the books before you first see her morphing into dragon form

Two Gulps & You're Gone

Two Gulps Too Many

Chasing the Stars

Stormcracker Thundercloud




Sunday, 19 February 2017

FIP

Prayers and love please for my girl Thistledown on the right who has been diagnosed with fip.  She is four and a half, four of those years with me.  I am learning to fear this insidious fatal disease appearing from nowhere to steal my family from me.  I thought at four she would be safe.   She is a rescued Romanian street cat.   Ptarmigan on the left died from the same three years ago.  He was two. FIP occurs when Feline Enteric Coronavirus which all cats have, mutates.  Triggers are stress, and most of my rescues simply by dint of being rescued street cats, have all had a difficult start to life, and so are vulnerable.  Those of us who rescue and adopt street cats dread this diagnosis.  You feel so helpless.  You search for something, anything, that everyone else has overlooked.  How can you accept you can do nothing for your beloved feline?   How can you accept they die young?  They already had to fight to survive.  Thistledown is under the care of the Royal Dick Vet School of Veterinary Studies who are treating her with experimental polyprenyl immunostimulant; but its success has been with cats with dry fip, and hers is evolving.  It's not fair. I love my beautiful girl, she is too young to cross the bridge.



Thursday, 16 February 2017

In This Last Dance of Dragons...

Two Gulps & You're Gone's death from poison 
Quenelda (Dancing with Dragons is what the dragons call her) holds his head as he dies, then tries to follow the sabretooth into death.


In this last dance of dragons
Our three hearts beat as one
For I must dance without you
for my time is nearly done

In this last dance with dragons
I will fly with you no more
I will never feel the wind 
beneath us as we soar

In this last dance of dragons
I grieve to say goodbye
For I will not be with you
as you spread your wings and fly

In this last dance of dragons
you know I'll wait for you 
For surely as the sun sets
You must dance with dragons too...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Road Not Taken review of The Dragon Whisperer

Lucinda Hare’s debut novel, The Dragon Whisperer, follows Quenelda, daughter of the Earl Rufus DeWinter, commander of the SDS (Stealth Dragon Services). Her greatest wish is to follow her father’s footsteps as a battledragon commander, instead of a court life of unwieldy skirts and gossip. She has an odd affinity for dragon husbandry, and can coax even the most crotchety battledragon to allow her near enough to care for its injuries. The roostmaster, Tagnarost, sees her skill and allows her to aid in caring for the dragons, and it soon becomes a way of life for her.
However, as winter approaches, the battle against the hobgoblins grows dire. More and more dragons are lost in battle, and esquires cannot be trained fast enough to take to the skies.
Quenelda’s father, the Earl DeWinter finally realizes how adept, but snobbish Quenelda is about flying. Since she has flown as a child, she scoffs at those esquires who do not have a natural talent for flying. The Earl makes a deal with Quenelda: she may have her very own battledragon, as long as she can teach Root, a gnome esquire, to fly. It just so happens that Root not only has a fear of dragons, but he is completely inept. Slowly an unlikely friendship blooms and together Quenelda and Root must unravel a conspiracy designed to strike at the very heart of the SDS itself.
The Dragon Whisperer is a completely entrancing children’s tale. Every spare moment I had I searched out this book so that I could continue reading. I love that our young protagonist is a girl, and the prejudices she encounters reflect many a young girl’s dream to break into a male dominated industry. Quenelda’s character is refreshing since she too is flawed, and over the course of the book begins to overcome her personal biases. Ms. Hare does an excellent job balancing her world of fierce dragons and rabid hobgoblins with a more whimsical side, such as naming Quenelda’s battledragon Two Gulps and You’re Gone.
The sequel, Dragon Isle will be published in 2010. Quenelda’s special talents hint at a much larger destiny for her, and I’m guessing we will see our slowly maturing heroine overcome ever more drastic situations with Root’s help. The Dragon Whisperer is an excellent debut novel, and can be enjoyed by all ages!
Review by The Road Not Taken
originally posted 2010

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Seeds of Inspiration

I've often said that animals in general and our rescued animals in particular provide much of the inspiration behind The Dragonsdome Chronicles. Well, who knows, but there may be a point in the story where Quenelda and Root have to raise some orphaned baby dragons because I have weaned four tiny little orphaned wood mice. One of my cats brought in a mouse which got away into a large bedroom. I confidently set my humane trap with all sorts of tasty tid-bits only to find it empty day after day. Then finally I found out why. My little mouse had given birth to four little babies under a dresser, chewing an impressive piece of expensive rug into pieces to make a nice warm nest. The mother sadly died, leaving me with the task of raising four baby mice who have not been weaned and were yet to even open their eyes. This is a very difficult task as previous experience has taught me, And it's also a very emotional task because you form an incredible bond with a baby whose first sight is you. Losing them is heartbreaking. Each time you learn more, gain more experience, get more advice. They were fed Esbilac (a milk substitute) on the end of a fine paint brush every two hours. After around three weeks I progressed to apple, budgie seeds and brown bread soaked in water, They just cuddled up in their nest of wool rug in a towel over a warm hot water bottle and didn't move until their next feed. These babies grew strong enough and big enough to be released out into the hay shed in the rabbit garden - where the cats don't go because the rabbits are a bit scary! Feeding them every few hours 24/7 meant my contact lens were so dried out I could hardly see the keyboard when I first posted this story!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Hours of the day...well it could be so boring couldn't it?

Well, hours of the day are so boring aren't they?   The mere ticking of time...  Our months and days are named after gods and emperors....

Monday ~ moon's day
Tuesday ~ Tiu's day ~ Middle English tiwesday or tewesday Old English tiwesdag Tiu's day
Wednesday ~ Woden's day  (Nordic)
Thursday ~ Thor's day (Nordic)
Friday ~ Freya's day (Nordic)
Saturday ~ Saturn's day (Roman)
Sunday ~ Sun's day

But how about the hours of the day?  Well, once again I return to Native American culture for inspiration, and decided to give the hours proper names and characteristics ~ so here we go ~ some are creatures of our world, and others creatures of the Fifth Dimension the world of The Dragonsdome Chronicles.  If you created your own names what would they be?

Howling Wolf ~ 1
Stealthy Lynx ~ 2
Dozy Hedgehog ~ 3
Tawny Owl ~ 4
Yawning Dormouse ~ 5
Strutting Cockerel ~ 6
Blackbird ~ 7
Stroppy Capercaillie ~ 8
Cross~eyed Squirrel ~ 9
Eager Beaver ~ 10
Irritated Bumblebee ~ 11
Soaring Osprey ~ noon

Inquisitive Stoat ~ 1
Stalking WildCat ~ 2
Blue Spotted Earwig ~ 3
Grumpy Badger ~ 4
Wild Boar ~ 5
Very Plump Ptarmigan ~ 6
Sabre-toothed Rabbit ~ 7
Giant Slug ~ 8
Hunting Fox ~ 9
Black Bear ~ 10
Creeping Lynx ~ 11
The Witching Hour ~ midnight

for the inquisitive ~

January ~ Named after the Roman god of beginnings and endings Janus (the month Januarius)
February ~ The name comes either from the old-Italian god Februus or else from februa, signifying the festivals of purification celebrated in Rome during this month.
March ~ ~ This is the first month of the Roman year. It is named after the Roman god of war, Mars
April ~ Called Aprilis, from aperire, "to open". Possible because it is the month in which the buds begin to open
May ~ The third month of the Roman calendar. The name probably comes from Maiesta, the Roman goddess of honor and reverence
June ~ The fourth month was named in honor of Juno. However, the name might also come from iuniores (young men; juniors) as opposed to maiores (grown men; majors) for May, the two months being dedicated to young and old men
July ~ It was the month in which Julius Caesar was born, and named Julius in his honor in 44 BCE, the year of his assassination. Also called Quintilis (fifth month)
August ~ Originally this month was called Sextilis (from sextus, "six"), but the name was later changed in honor of the first of the Roman emperors, Augustus (because several fortunate events of his life occurred during this month
September ~ The name comes from septem, "seven"
October ~ The name comes from octo, "eight"
November ~ The name comes from novem, "nine"
December ~ The name comes from decem, "ten"



Monday, 30 January 2017

Native American inspiration for the months/moons of the year


Again some readers asking....so for those of you who haven't read this...

Where did I get inspiration for the months/moons of the year? Well, there was a time not so long ago when mankind’s very survival was tied to the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons, and thus time was measured by the cycle of the full moon. Full moons dominate the sky and have attracted unique names of their own that reflect those seasons. In this modern day and age of high rise cities, the Internet, cars and planes, it is all too easy to lose touch with nature, and to forget that we are intrinsically connected to the Earth, and it to us. But blizzards, floods and famine, bush fires, tsunamis and earthquakes have shown how nature can overwhelm us and render much of our defenses, planning and technology redundant. What then must it have been like for our ancestors? No heating save the wood you have cut over summer. No food save that which you have harvested or hunted. No running water. No transport, no computers, no mobile phones. All the things we take for granted did not exist not so long ago. This too is the world of The Seven Sea Kingdoms, a medieval world of soaring mountains and deep sea lochs. Yes there is magic, but like technology, it has its limits. How can a even a mighty Imperial Black battledragon fly in a howling blizzard? So, how do you measure time in such a primordial world?

Ever since I was a child I have been inspired by Native American cultures and their affinity with nature, so I have borrowed their names for full moons below, with some alternative names in brackets; but this personal choice reflects only a fraction of the many tribal variants such as Abenaki, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Comanche, Kiowa, Lakota, Mohawk, Potawatomi and Shoshoni that exist. Those in bold print represent those adopted by the American Indian Association.
The Dragonsdome Chronicles: Moons

January Wolf Moon (Snow Moon)
February Snow Moon (Hunger Moon)
March Sap Moon (Maple Sugar Moon / Crow Moon)
April Sprouting Grass Moon ( Frog Moon / Wild Goose Moon)
May Corn Planting Moon (Flower Moon)
June Hot Moon (Strawberry Moon / Rose Moon)
July Thunder Moon (Blood Moon / Buck Moon)
August Grain Moon (Moon of the Green Corn)
September Harvest Moon
October Hunters Moon (Moon of the Falling Leaves)
November Frost Moon (Beaver Moon)
December Long Nights Moon (Cold Moon)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Story Continues...

Quenelda's brother Darcy does not want to fight in the SDS.  He wants to remain in the Household Cavalry Light Unicorn Brigade.  He has no natural talent flying dragons. So when out of bravado he chooses to fly one of his father's battlegriffs, he soon gets into difficulties.  Spurred by cruelty his hippogriff takes the hand off one of his friends before bolting.   
Without thinking, Quenelda calls on the sabretooth battledragon Two Gulps & You're Gone, and running up a wing as he sweeps past her, with no bridle or saddle, she rescues her brother.   The scene is set for future tragedy....

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Story Begins.....


Root, son of the SDS Commander's scout, killed by hobgoblins in the tunnels of the Howling Glen, is appointed esquire to his wayward daughter Quenelda, who can out fly any boy of her age.  But poor Root is petrified of dragons.  All he can see is an assortment of tails, talons and teeth. So here he is in the sabretooth battledragon roosts. Its hot.  The air stinks of sulfurous brimstone.   Sabretooths are notoriously highly strung and temperamental.  So why does Quenelda think she can treat Two Gulps & Your're Gone's broken tail?  Reluctant Root has to put on roost armour so that he won't be reduced to a pile of ash! But why is Quenelda not wearing any?



Saturday, 21 January 2017

Dragonsdome Chronicles Limited Edition Prints

Three limited edition Giclée Doodled BooksThree limited edition Giclée Fine Art prints from The Dragonsdome Chronicles are now available from my web site


Bubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble from book two: Flight to Dragon Isle. It is limited to 300 prints.

Food? Quenelda with a baby Sabretooth Two Gulps Too Many is also taken from Flight to Dragon Isle. It is limited to 350 prints.

Root on the Wooden Dragon depicts the hapless Root being trained to be Quenelda's esquire from The Dragon Whisperer. It is limited to 300 prints.

All three images are printed on Somerset Velvet Enhanced archival paper accredited by the Fine Art Trade Guild. Each print is numbered and signed by the artist. Prints are A3 in size.
Bubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble is a foretaste of things to come in book two: Flight to Dragon Isle. It is limited to 300 prints.




Thursday, 19 January 2017

Internet down ~ BT not at their best at all....

Hello everyone,

My internet has been down now for 11 days!!!  and BT are not going to get a second engineer out until Monday ~ a total of 15 days so please forgive the lack of posts, normal service will be resumed the minute I get my broadband back.  I have been on and off over a few days at a friends for an hour or two but I have so much to catch up with!

Check back next week and with luck I'll be back!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Learn to fly a Dragon ~ the wooden dragon ~



Training to be an esquire.  It is essential for all newly appointed esquires learn to fly so that in theory, they can keep up with Quenelda, the Earl's wild wayward daughter. A long list of boys who thought they could out fly her, have ended up in the loch, tangled in a tree, or the infirmary.  But Root's father has died saving the fortress in the Howling Glen, and the SDS Commander promised that he would take care of his only remaining son.  Root knows nothing about dragons save that they are an assortment of tails, teeth and talons so is this a wise move?  The Earl gives his daughter a challenge ~ teach Root to fly before the famous Winter Jousts or she would be left at home.  If he fails to learn like all his predecessors, Quenelda would only have herself to blame.  Is Quenelda up to the challenge?  Is Root able to overcome his fear of dragons?

The wooden dragon is really tough. About the size of a sabretooth, it is suspended in the center of the training amphitheater by chains. Ropes are threaded through eyelets and the wooden dragon can be spun on its post, the wings and tail can be raised up and down, the head and tail back and forwards.   Up Down Up Down Up Down goes the dragon. Root is the first gnome to be raised to esquire, but not only that, he is appointed to be Quenelda's esquire, a stepping stone for all those with ambitions to fame and fortune.  They are determined to make this upstart commoner fail.  Ooooooh... round spins the dragon...  oops, there goes breakfast!

Would be dragon riders have to wear a heavy padded jacket, helmet and gloves because they get knocked black and blue trying to keep in the saddle while all the esquires do their very best to throw you. As for those splinters - well a trip to the infirmary is inevitable and embarassing!

Not for the fainthearted, and certainly not for those who get airsick. Poor Root! Do you want to fly? Would you be tough enough to brave the wooden dragon, or would you keep your feet firmly on the ground? Get buckled into the safety harness and give it a go...don't forget your sick bag.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Two Gulps Too Many now has his own twitter account

just to remind all my fans all over the world that I now have my own twitter page ~

Monday, 26 December 2016

Happy Christmas to all our fans from Quenelda, Two Gulps Too Many, Root, Tangnost, Armelia and Chasing the Stars

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

How Much is that Dragon in the Window? Don't ask for a dragon this Christmas unless you are certain you can care for one for life!

What do you think of when someone mentions dragons to you? Glamour? Magic? Bright scales? Flying? Billowing blue smoke? All of these and more? How cool would it be to fly to school on a dragon? Way cool! Flying above all those folk plodding through the puddles far below...

Well yes, a dragon is all of these things. But...like other pets there is a less glamourous side to pet ownership. Root will tell you it's a lot of hard work too, and the larger the animal the harder the work. There is feeding, handling, grooming, exercise and visits to the vet. Those scale mites don't just make your dragon's life miserable, they can bite you too! Owning an animal like a dragon is going to be expensive. Have you been saving your pocket money?

So imagine. You've arrived home this evening from a hard day at school. Exams are coming up. Your favourite TV series is on tonight but you have a ton of homework for tomorrow, including that history project that you've been avoiding. Winter is coming in and it's cold, dark and very wet outside. But your windglen widdershanks mare is only a yearling and she needs lots of exercise, and the roost will need mucked out tonight, you avoided it yesterday. So it's out with the shovel and cart. Mucking out dragon dung is no joke. There is a lot of it so you need big muscles! The bigger the dragon the bigger...well you get the picture, and you never thought of that when you bought her did you? She looked so small and cute in that window but she is going to get bigger yet. That done you get saddle and bridle out and tack up. On with the waterproofs and out into the winter sky.

It's miserable out there and you narrowly avoid collision with another dragon. The freezing rain is seeping down your neck and your fingers have gone numb, but your dragon is having a great time and doesn't want to go home yet, so resists your efforts to turn homeward. She can be quite stubborn when she wants to be. It's a whole hour before you get back to the roost, but before you get dry clothes on and some hot food you have to look after your dragon. A quick rub down followed by a brush, and check for any sores. Her hide is a little dry so you dig out the pot of birch balm - an unguent made of honey, birch sap and and stag-toad spittle that Root recommended. She's hungry. You go to the food bins to make up a hot oat mash sprinkled with thistles...argh! You've forgotten that the dried thistles have run out, and there's not enough oats either. So you have to run down the road to the nearest fodder station before it closes. And if you are one of the few like Quenelda who have a battledragon, well there's brimstone to consider. Volatile, heavy and very expensive... You finally tuck your dragon into her roost for the night and get changed. Grabbing a bite to eat you plump down on the sofa and...your favourite programme has just ended.

Well...that's the reality of pet ownership. It may be glamorous, fun and exciting most of the time. But, a lot of responsibility and hard work goes with pet ownership, so when you are out shopping this Christmas and you see that cute baby dragon in the window...Don't just ask Santa for one - have a good long think about it and go and talk to someone first - like Root who knows what it's all about.

And instead get the next best thing for the person you love: The Dragonsdome Chronicles

Monday, 19 December 2016

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 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.

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Further Adventures of Two Gulps Too Many on twitter...

its official ~ the coolest hottest fledgling dragon on the planet has his own twitter page 



Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Naming Dragons

What was I going to name my dragons? I did not want to name them the way we name our pets as this did not do justice to these magnificent magical creatures. Bob or Sooty the dragon does not work and Fluffy is out of the question! Nor did I want the romanticised names so common in fantasy. I wanted something gritty and evocative; something that reflected the reality of a scaled, fire-breathing, six-taloned nightmare the size of a football pitch bearing down on you. So I turned to my lifelong interest in and admiration for native American Indian cultures with their affinity for the natural world. A wonderful example of what I mean is Kuwanyamtiwa, a Hopi name meaning 'beautiful badger going over the hill'. Work that one out if you can!

I also wanted names to reflect each dragon's breed and individual character. Thus Imperial Blacks, the greatest of all dragons, were given names like Stormcracker Thundercloud III, Dangerous & Deadly, and Leave in Smoking Ruins. All names that would strike fear into their enemies. Another key battledragon is the boastful and proud Sabretooth Tangnost and Quenelda are trying to treat without getting frazzled to a crisp. Sabretooths are cave dragons with huge incisors and an appetite to match, so Two Gulps & You're Gone struck me as ideal. He would have at least a dozen hobgoblins for dinner!  Whereas his wayward chubby offspring who can't stop snacking is Two Gulps Too Many!  And as you grow and change, your name can change too to reflect that so maybe he will earn himself a new one?

Of course there are also domestic dragons in the Dragon Whisperer. You meet them in the paddocks of Dragonsdome and at the Winter Jousts. But just because they are placid herbivores does not mean they don't have character. The Windyglen Widdershanks gifted to Root has a wicked sense of humour and proves to be feisty and very brave - just like her master! I think Chasing the Stars is my favourite dragon so far.

If you would like to learn more ~

http://native-americans-online.com/native-american-names.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/whats-in-name/201107/names-and-identity-the-native-american-naming-tradition


Friday, 9 December 2016

Extinction is Forever ~ taking action

Researching dwarf clan names for Dragon Lords Rising from species which have become extinct in Scotland. Sadly a very long list to choose from, including these below, with links to further information about them:

Arctic fox - c. 10,000 BC
Steppe lemming - c. 8000 BC
Arctic lemming - c. 8000 BC...
Aurochs - c. 1000 BC
Beech Marten - 19th Century
Brown Bear - c. 1000 (may be as early as 500 BC)
Cave Lion - c. 10,000 BC
Coypu - 1987 (non-native)
Gray whale - c. 500 BC
Irish Elk - c. 6000 BC
Eurasian Lynx - c. 400
Greater mouse-eared bat - 1990 (as resident)
Narrow-headed vole - c. 8000 BC
Root Vole - c. 1500 BC
Pika - c. 8000 BC
Saiga Antelope - c. 10,000 BC
Tarpan - c. 7000 BC
Walrus - c. 1000 BC
Wisent - c. 3000 BC
Wolverine - c. 6000 BC
Woolly Mammoth - c. 10,000 BC
Woolly Rhinoceros - c. 10,000 BC

Great White Pelican - c. 1000 BC
Great Auk - 1844


Some links for you to read more for yourself about past extinction and endangered species today ~

Past extinction ~ http://iberianature.com/britainnature/miscellaneous/extinct-mammals-in-britian/

How to take action ~ https://www.actforwildlife.org.uk/what-we-fight-for/the-places-we-work/uk-and-europe/?gclid=CKm63_bp5tACFaS77Qod7NsPfg

Lost beasts that roamed Britain in the last Ice Age ~http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20150722-lost-beasts-of-the-ice-age



Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Origins of the SDS ~ On Wings of Vengeance

So where does the inspiration for the Stealth Dragon Services, the SDS come from? I'm sure some of you have guessed that in large part the SDS are modelled on our own elite armed forces; the Special Air Services known as the SAS. The Dragon Lords are the elite of the Seven Kingdoms, battle mages who pilot magnificent Imperial Black stealth dragons. They wear magical spiked black armour that matches their dragons' characteristics. Apart from being able to cloak, these huge dragons can carry a payload of three hundred fully armoured Bonecracker Commandos and ten fully armoured Sabretooths, plus weaponry. They use floating dragon pads to take off and land on. Instead of high technology, the SDS use high magic, but their military organisation, imagery and terminology are modern. Like the SAS, the SDS are organised into regiments; but inspiration for their names is diverse. There is the SDS Commander's own regiment named after Julius Caesar's PRIMIGENIA "Firstborn" Legion. The Nightstalkers are named after the US special forces 160th Special Ops Regiment, and the others are invented. Uniquely, in the world of the SDS, magic and medieval meet modern. The imagery and language are modern day. Their battle dragons, in effect, take the place of modern day fighters and helicopters. An Imperial Black stealth dragon, the greatest dragon  of all, is in part an F-22 Raptor, Chinook and Apache Longbow helicopters all rolled into one.  The motto of the SAS is Who Dares Wins.  Casting about for an equivalent that also was appropriate for dragons I came up with On Wings of Vengeance, with a badge of the triple headed dragon which reflects the great Imperial houses of Europe which fell in World War 1.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Winter Joust from The Dragon Whisperer

Imagine...you are astride your highly trained jousting dragon. Your heart is thumping, the sound in your head magnified by your helmet. Both you and your dragon are wearing your lord's bright coat of arms over your padded jousting armour. The high sided saddle holds you firmly upright, so that you are free to hold a shield in one hand and to couch your heavy jousting lance in the other. You can barely see your opponent at the opposite list through the narrow slit of your visor. The roar of the crowd is growing. The marshal lowers his flag and you lightly spur your mount. Your dragon explodes out the lists with breathtaking speed, the sound of its four wings like thunder as you hurtle towards each other and then...well the rest is up to you! Do you manage to break your lance on your opponents shield, or even better did you unseat him? Do you win the tournament and claim fame and fortune?

The detail of the Winter Joust as described in The dragon Whisperer is based upon what took place in medieval jousts. Jousting was the greatest and most glamorous sport of the middle ages, the equivalent of the football world cup and modern day Superbowl wrapped into one, so you can understand why Quenelda was so determined to go whether Root was ready or not.

Jousts took place to keep the knight and his mounts trained for battle, and to show off their power and skill. The arms and armour were those of the battlefield: lances, swords, shields, and sometimes axes or maces. Jousting could lead to severe injury or death, so in The Dragon Whisperer to keep down casualties battledragons have been banned and the Queen has decreed that only blunted weaponry could be used, which has not pleased the bloodthirsty crowds! And of course powerful and deadly battlemagic has been banned because fallout could cause collateral damage - injuring or killing many in the crowds.

Real life jousts took place in open fields called the list or list-field with the two combatants separated by a low fence, and in that one respect I have had to adapt the story to take account of dragons. In The Dragon Whisperer, the winter jousts take place in a vast amphitheatre like a modern day stadium, called the Cauldron, where the dragons could fly, and list fields are replaced by list trees.

The dastardly Grand Master of course is cheating. His mount Midnight Madness is a carnivorous battledragon in disguise, and the Duke Grenville is carrying real weapons. And no one apart from you and Quenelda knows her father the Earl Rufus is in deadly danger. What happens next? Well you'll know if you've read the book!


Monday, 21 November 2016

Imagine...imagine you met a dragon....

Root meeting Chasing the Stars......how would you react?

Sunday, 20 November 2016

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 Risingseries, 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  (American book blog review)

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 hasnever 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 Risingseries, 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 glossaryafter 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!


Finding Wonderland : Wonderland started in 2005 as a collaborative space for a writing group to share news, links, book recommendations, and thoughts on writing for young adults. August 2011

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Romanian review of IMBLANZITORUL DRAGONILOR (The Dragon Whisperer)

Bono va recomanda o lectura irezistibila despre prietenia dintre noi, oamenii, si animalele care, ca si noi, au personalitate si sentimente. Dragonii, care sunt priviti ca unelte periculoase dar utile de catre majoritatea personajelor cartii, au diverse trairi si dorinte. Eroina principala, domnita Quenelda, vrea sa ii convinga pe cei din jurul sau ca aceste creaturi sunt minunate si merita tot respectul si dragostea noastra. Dragonii sunt, de fapt, un simbol al tuturor animalelor pamantului si copiii, dar si adultii, invata de aici ca poate exista o lume unde respectul pentru animalelor este o realitate. Lectura placuta!! Sorina si Bono ♥ 

Gareth Wilson Amazon Top 50 reviewer. Falcata Times and Tatty's Treasue Chest

The Dragon Whisperer
Finding a new children’s author that presents something novel and catchy to occupy the young mind is a lot like trying to catch the wind. First of all the mind at times can rush from one area to another and at other times it barely even registers and you have to takes people word that such a thing exists.

So,when Lucinda’s book landed, I read the back, was intrigued and began devouring the book. Yep it takes a lot to get something to the top of my TBR pile and its virtually unheard of for a new author to do just that, but the way the blurb laid it out, this was a book I just couldn’t miss and what a ride it was.
The writing was expertly handled, the characters not only charming but a villain that you’re just going to love to hate. Its fresh, its new and above all its going to do for Dragon fantasy what Rowling did for Wizards. Lucinda is definitely a name to watch out for and to be honest this is going to be in my top five YA books for the year, give this another book, maybe two and it will be the hottest thing on the YA circuit so get in now before the hype hits. If you need any other persuasion try this, its McCaffrey and Novik Flaming hot fiction for the YA market. Need we say more?

Flight to Dragon Isle
Having loved the original novel by Lucinda I really couldn't wait to get reacquainted with Root and Quenelda as their adventures continue against the evil behind the scenes, the Grand Master, former friend of Quenelda's father Earl Rufus De Winter. 

Whilst the first book set the scene, this one gets down to the bare bones of the matter at hand and like the Empire Strikes Back, it's a lot darker than the first as there's a lot of death as well as devastation and it looks overall like the Grand Master who would be King is all set to become the Emperor of all he surveys. Add to this a good number of twists, some very bleak outcomes backed up with one ember of light that will need the best efforts of everyone to ensure that the fire of righteousness takes light. All in this title was a scary and thoroughly enjoyable read despite the darker aspect and one that I feel shows quite clearly that not every world is sweetness and light with the heroes not winning every battle. Its cleverly written, the cast addictive and when backed with the Hobgoblins and Quenelda's Brother it's one that really will keep the reader demanding the third instalment. A cracking read although you may want to read through it with your own hatchling due to some of the subject matter.

Gareth Wilson
Amazon Top 50 reviewer.
Falcata Times and Tatty's Treasue Chest

Sunday, 13 November 2016

OneKind Blog from Remembrance Sunday 11th November 2011

To mark Remembrance Sunday we are pleased to share this very special guest blog by author Lucinda Hare, which reminds us that not all of the sentient beings who suffer, endure and show courage during wartime are human beings.
war memorial
Remembering Animals in War
(by Lucinda Hare)
Throughout history, man has taken animals to war with him whether they willed it or not.  From Celtic tribal war hounds to Hannibal’s elephants, from trained medieval war horses to carrier pigeons, from mules in the Burmese jungle to IED bomb sniffer dogs in Afghanistan, they have been at our side; and in serving us faithfully and unflinchingly, they have died in their tens of millions from exhaustion, starvation, thirst, exposure, wounds and disease, unremarked upon save for a few.  Then there are those casualties hidden from public view: the hundreds of thousands of primates and domesticated animals used by the military for experiments; their isolation, indignity and agony, unseen and unheard.  Animals are the forgotten victims of war.
Those very characteristics that we cherish so much in animals are sadly the same that led to their being enlisted.  Dogs are intelligent, devoted and courageous.  Mules have great stamina, and are sure footed even in adverse terrain.  Horses are brave hearted, swift and strong, able to bear a knight in full armour, or drag a gun and ammunition.  Over a quarter of a million died of heatstroke, exhaustion, thirst and wounds in the Boer war alone; eight million horses, mules and donkeys were subjected to the same terrifying conditions as men in the trenches of the First World War.  Those that survived were then abandoned to fend for themselves or sold into hard labour; they never came home.  Dorothy Brooke, the wife of a British army general posted to Cairo in 1930, discovered thousands of ex-cavalry horses being used as beasts of burden.  Her compassion for these old abused animals led to the foundation of the Brooke Hospital for Animals. Around three hundred thousand pigeons served in the two World Wars, countless others over the centuries that preceded modern communications.  The list of animals drawn into our wars is endless, their sacrifice immense.
For those of us to whom all life is equally precious, each and every death in war, human or animal, is a source of grief, because to us, we are all of one kind.  As Ghandi said so succinctly, “There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together.”  So as we remember our armed forces and their families this coming Sunday, so too we should remember those animals that serve and protect them and us, in many theatres of war across the world today.
Animals like Theo.  Theo, a young springer spaniel is reported to have died of a broken heart shortly after seeing his master, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, a bomb-disposal expert, being shot and killed in March of this year.  Theo and Lance Cpl Tasker, an Arms and Explosives Search dog handler of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, were part of the Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit based at Camp Bastion.
theo
(Pic:Lance Cpl Tasker and Theo)
The Ministry of Defence praised the success of L-Cpl Tasker and Theo, who had made fourteen finds of bombs and weapons stores in five months in Afghanistan. The spaniel, on his first tour of duty, had uncovered so many improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that his time in the country was extended by a month. Theo was honoured at his master’s funeral. They would have returned home just four days after the attack.
The powerfully emotive Animals in War Memorial, unveiled in 2004, bears two inscriptions:  “This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time.”
A second, smaller inscription reads: “They had no choice.”

Friday, 11 November 2016

How Much is that Dragon in the Window? Don't ask Santa for a dragon this Christmas unless you are sure you can look after one!

What do you think of when someone mentions dragons to you? Glamour? Magic? Bright scales? Flying? Billowing blue smoke? All of these and more? How cool would it be to fly to school on a dragon? Way cool! Flying above all those folk plodding through the puddles far below...

Well yes, a dragon is all of these things. But...like other pets there is a less glamourous side to pet ownership. Root will tell you it's a lot of hard work too, and the larger the animal the harder the work. There is feeding, handling, grooming, exercise and visits to the vet. Those scale mites don't just make your dragon's life miserable, they can bite you too! Owning an animal like a dragon is going to be expensive. Have you been saving your pocket money?

So imagine. You've arrived home this evening from a hard day at school. Exams are coming up. Your favourite TV series is on tonight but you have a ton of homework for tomorrow, including that history project that you've been avoiding. Winter is coming in and it's cold, dark and very wet outside. But your windglen widdershanks mare is only a yearling and she needs lots of exercise, and the roost will need mucked out tonight, you avoided it yesterday. So it's out with the shovel and cart. Mucking out dragon dung is no joke. There is a lot of it so you need big muscles! The bigger the dragon the bigger...well you get the picture, and you never thought of that when you bought her did you? She looked so small and cute in that window but she is going to get bigger yet. That done you get saddle and bridle out and tack up. On with the waterproofs and out into the winter sky.

It's miserable out there and you narrowly avoid collision with another dragon. The freezing rain is seeping down your neck and your fingers have gone numb, but your dragon is having a great time and doesn't want to go home yet, so resists your efforts to turn homeward. She can be quite stubborn when she wants to be. It's a whole hour before you get back to the roost, but before you get dry clothes on and some hot food you have to look after your dragon. A quick rub down followed by a brush, and check for any sores. Her hide is a little dry so you dig out the pot of birch balm - an unguent made of honey, birch sap and and stag-toad spittle that Root recommended. She's hungry. You go to the food bins to make up a hot oat mash sprinkled with thistles...argh! You've forgotten that the dried thistles have run out, and there's not enough oats either. So you have to run down the road to the nearest fodder station before it closes. And if you are one of the few like Quenelda who have a battledragon, well there's brimstone to consider. Volatile, heavy and very expensive... You finally tuck your dragon into her roost for the night and get changed. Grabbing a bite to eat you plump down on the sofa and...your favourite programme has just ended.

Well...that's the reality of pet ownership. It may be glamorous, fun and exciting most of the time. But, a lot of responsibility and hard work goes with pet ownership, so when you are out shopping this Christmas and you see that cute baby dragon in the window...Don't just ask Santa for one - have a good long think about it and go and talk to someone first - like Root who knows what it's all about.

And instead get the next best thing for the person you love: The Dragonsdome Chronicles  

Monday, 7 November 2016

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 book 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!





Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Inspirations for Moons & Months...


So where did I get inspiration for the months/moons of the year? Well, there was a time not so long ago when mankind’s very survival was tied to the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons, and thus time was measured by the cycle of the full moon. Full moons dominate the sky and have attracted unique names of their own that reflect those seasons. In this modern day and age of high rise cities, the Internet, cars and planes, it is all too easy to lose touch with nature, and to forget that we are intrinsically connected to the Earth, and it to us. But blizzards, floods and famine, bush fires, tsunamis and earthquakes have shown how nature can overwhelm us and render much of our defenses, planning and technology redundant. What then must it have been like for our ancestors? No heating save the wood you have cut over summer. No food save that which you have harvested or hunted. No running water. No transport, no computers, no mobile phones. All the things we take for granted did not exist not so long ago. This too is the world of The Seven Sea Kingdoms, a medieval world of soaring mountains and deep sea lochs. Yes there is magic, but like technology, it has its limits. How can a even a mighty Imperial Black battledragon fly in a howling blizzard? So, how do you measure time in such a primordial world?

Ever since I was a child I have been inspired by Native American cultures and their affinity with nature, so I have borrowed their names for full moons below, with some alternative names in brackets; but this personal choice reflects only a fraction of the many tribal variants such as Abenaki, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Comanche, Kiowa, Lakota, Mohawk, Potawatomi and Shoshoni that exist. Those in bold print represent those adopted by the American Indian Association.
The Dragonsdome Chronicles: Moons

January Wolf Moon (Snow Moon)
February Snow Moon (Hunger Moon)
March Sap Moon (Maple Sugar Moon / Crow Moon)
April Sprouting Grass Moon ( Frog Moon / Wild Goose Moon)
May Corn Planting Moon (Flower Moon)
June Hot Moon (Strawberry Moon / Rose Moon)
July Thunder Moon (Blood Moon / Buck Moon)
August Grain Moon (Moon of the Green Corn)
September Harvest Moon
October Hunters Moon (Moon of the Falling Leaves)
November Frost Moon (Beaver Moon)
December Long Nights Moon (Cold Moon)