GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Dragons As Characters, Not Props - Guest Post: Alexandra Christian | I Smell Sheep

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dragons As Characters, Not Props - Guest Post: Alexandra Christian

Picture it: Facebook Launch Party for Huntress. I’m wracking my brain trying to keep the conversation flowing with new and interesting questions to ask of my peeps. So I decided to ask: Who is your favorite literary dragon, movies or books acceptable? Folks began answering the question and I noticed a pattern. See if you can too: the dragons from the Pern books, the dragons from Game of Thrones, the dragon from Dragonslayer….
The list went on and eventually included Smaug from the Hobbit and Falcor from The Neverending Story. I began to realize that most of the answers included “the dragon from…”. No one could remember their names except for Smaug and Falcor (unless you’re a huge nerd who remembers that the dragon in Dragonslayer is called Vermithrax Pejorative). It seems absurd. I mean, dragons are some of the most loved mythical creatures in all of literature. How can we NOT remember their names. Well the answer is simple, really. Dragons are not usually characters in the story. They’re often dealt with the same way as any other insurmountable foe in the book. They’re the tornado in Sharknado. The snake in Anaconda. Moby Dick. Dragons are usually just props in the story with no personality or character arc whatsoever except they blow fire in the face of the heroes and occasionally eat people.
That is not the sort of book I wanted to write when I began outlining Huntress. If you’re a lover of Dungeons and Dragons, you’ll notice in the Monstrous Manual that dragons always have super intelligence. They’re a symbol of power and wisdom but yet as writers, we always seem to relegate them to the mindless evil villain that doesn’t speak. I have a theory as to why that is. People, myself included, find it very hard to write dialogue between a human and a reptilian creature and have it be relatable. I admit it, when I got to the first scene between Malik, my dragon hero and Thalia, the heroine, I faltered a bit. I wanted him to be “not quite human” but not so serpentine that it was unbelievable. I had the same problem when coming up with a name for him. My writing companions, S.H. Roddey and Crymsyn Hart laughed at me all the way through the process because I kept changing his name. I didn’t want his name to be “too human” but I also knew that he was going to spend the second half of the book in a human form. And what crown prince wants to walk around saying “Hi, my name is Vermithrax Pejorative!”?

I also didn’t want to write a cheesy shapeshifter romance either. You know the ones: Drake is a troubled firefighter with a mysterious tattoo who learns he can turn into a dragon when united with his one true mate. GagSpitHiss! I was insistent that Huntress be a story that would stand up as a high-fantasy adventure as well as a romance. Malik’s dragon form is a curse and it propels the story forward. And over the course of the story we realize that while Malik may have gotten the brunt of the physical curse, the villain’s heart is where the true distortion lies.

So there’s a very delicate balance that the author has to achieve when using a dragon as a character rather than a prop. I hope I’ve done that. And I hope that one day if someone asks you, “Who is your favorite dragon?” You can say, with confidence, “Malik from Huntress.”

Or at least remember his name.

by Alexandra Christian
December 1, 2015
Print Length: 225 pages
Publisher: Little Red Hen Romance
Every girl dreams of a fairy tale prince.

Thalia is the Huntress, a dragonslayer from a barbarian tribe. But her dreams are haunted by her prince, a dark shadow who whispers delectable taunts in her ears and smells of crushed roses and ash. When she is captured and sacrificed as a symbolic “bride” to the most fearsome dragon she has ever seen, she wants only to escape into the endless dream of death where she and her dark prince can be together forever.

But princes aren’t always what they seem. And neither are dragons.
She could smell it before they could see it. The stench of ash and sulfur like the pits of Hell overwhelmed them. “God, how do they sneak up on anyone? They smell like a pile of burning shit,” Markus complained, pulling his tunic over his nose. Thalia wasn’t listening.  She was too busy watching the sky. She wanted to see it when it burst through the trees.

Dragons both frightened and fascinated her. Everything about them was built for the hunt.  Their massive bodies were covered in impenetrable scales, but they could move with an almost feline precision. Their talons were razor sharp and grooved so that once the prey was caught, escape would be impossible. They could lock around even the smallest wriggling creature and hold on. The beating of their wings could create a gale that would level whole villages. Then there was the fire. Dragons were made of it. It flowed through their veins like blood, making their flesh steam. Just touching the hide would scald one’s hand, peeling the blackened skin from the bones. A deep breath was all it took, and the flames would spew forth from the beast, burning everything it its path.

“We must draw it away from the villagers, Markus. Hurry and get everyone inside! Out of sight and quiet.” He ran off into the streams of screaming villagers, running to and fro. The stench of brimstone and sweat was so overwhelming, it burned Thalia’s eyes. The thick odor of terror was nothing new. It was everywhere she went and fueled her fury. She ran toward the western gate. Her arms ached with the weight of the heavy crossbow. Many were surprised that she could wield the rustic weapon with any accuracy, but it was the weapon of her father and his father before him. The only real problem was that to deliver a kill shot, one had to be standing in the furnace. A dragon was only vulnerable when he breathed fire. For a fragment of a second, he would expose his chest, and if one were clever and cunning, one might be able to deliver an arrow between the soft spaces in the scales and pierce its heart. Otherwise, there was nothing for it but a lucky blow that distracted the wyrm long enough to let you get away. Despite the rumors of her might, Thalia had never taken the head of a dragon. It would take one much stronger than herself to slice through the iron ropes of sinew and tissue, much less penetrate the scales.

About the Author:
Alexandra Christian is an author of paranormal romance, dark fantasy and horror. A self-proclaimed “Southern Belle from Hell,” Lexxx is a native South Carolinian who lives with a ghost hunter and an epileptic wiener dog. She has published several novels, novellas and short stories various publishers including Mocha Memoirs Press, Purple Sword Publications, Seventh Star Press, and Ellora’s Cave. She also wears an editor’s hat as A.C. Thompson. Recently, she’s been conquering the self-publishing world as one half of Little Red Hen Romance. Lexxx’s long-term aspirations are to one day be a best-selling authoress and part-time pinup girl. Questions, comments and complaints are most welcome at her website:

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great book. I love dragon shifters. I agree that there aren't enough of them out there. I'll be looking this book up.