Let's take a quick look at the book, because I can not wait to interview a dragon...!
Dirt is not just a high fantasy; it is a saga that stretches over one thousand years. It tells the tales of people fighting for freedom in a society plagued by corruption, greed and feudalism. It is not the tale of beautiful princesses and noble kings, but of cheesemakers, cart pushers, sergeants; ordinary people who are thrown together to achieve extraordinary things.
And it is a tale of dragons; beautiful creatures who live in villages, have friends, enjoy poetry and singing and will lay down their lives to help bring peace to the world of Dirt.
Most of all, it is the story of Dirt.
Dirt is a true saga. The characters’ lives are intricate, detailed and profound. The world is finely described, old and full of history. But it is also a place of laughter, of simple pleasures, of friendship, good times and the endless search for somewhere to call home.
Now for the bit I have been really looking forward to. I have never interviewed a dragon before, so this is a first! I must admit, I am a little bit nervous, but fingers-crossed, I will live to tell the tale!
1. Introduce yourself? (I am usually not so abrupt - but, people...I am talking to a dragon)!
I don’t suppose you have a beer, do you? Yeah, I know, odd thing to ask, but dragons like beer; brew it too, or at least, the Draig Mynyth Coh do. Those are Red Mountain Dragons. Idiots, most of them. It is something we share with friends and if are chatting, well, that makes us friends and is big deal to us Draig.
Anyway, Be-Elin is me. I am, well, how old would you like me to be? In the book I am sort of around seventy when you first meet me, but you have to understand that Draig yr Anialr, desert dragons, live to eight or nine hundred years or so. Young pup, me!
I was born in Ponack in the Sand Hills. That is in the far north of the Eastern Plains in Bind on the world of Dirt. Very arid are the plains, but it is cold where we are.
I was just thinking that you probably have no idea whether I am male or female. The clue is in the name, girl. Can I call you girl? You are rather younger than me. But then, I even call Fren-Eirol girl and she is four hundred years older than me!
Anyway, back to the gender problem. The clue is in the name. Females are normally called Be- something, pronounced BAY. Boys are Mab- something. If we pair up, like your marriage, but far less formal, it becomes Fren and Bren instead. Not Mr and Mrs; these are said part of our names.
Quick thought, I probably should tell you how to pronounce what I am. Draig yr Anialr is pronounced Draig eer-AN-yah. Happy?
2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Dragons fly; rather good at it. Not incredibly fast, but on our own and flying higher than you can breathe, we can cross a continent in just a few days. As we fly and look down, we see no borders, no nations and the only divides are the mountains and rivers, not fences built by you territorial humans.
Dragons do not have nations and are not territorial. Guess what? We never have wars between us, but we do have to suffer yours.
So when I name a place to live, it is on your terms, not mine.
I am very fond of the Sand Hills. The community that grew up in Ponack was made up of both dragons and humans and we lived, played and worked together, despite size differences.
I very much like the Isle of Hope, too. But then, who doesn’t? The sea is warm, it is summer all year round and it is off the trade routes, so is left in peace. Great swimming, and I love swimming.
But in the end, I will be happiest wherever my rider is happiest and vice versa. Easy to please, me.
3. What would you consider to be your greatest strength?
Probably not my short temper, or my humour. I am sorry, but I get bored so quickly and I can be irreverent and short, when I am not flirting and running off with all those gorgeous young…
Confirmed Be, I suspect!
But I am not stupid and behind the silliness and bad jokes, I do watch and I do listen. My friends are my family and I will use my huge strength and experience and intelligence to protect them and defend them, whatever the cost.
Loyalty, duty and love are all the same to me. They are bound up together and inextricable from each other.
I hope it is a strength because I can’t stop feeling as I do. I love my friends, both human and dragon.
4. What is your biggest regret?
Oh, dear. Can I be elusive? My story is complicated, like so many others in my world, and I do not want to spoil the play for those who have yet to read the books!
I mentioned loyalty. When a Draig yr Anialr and a human pair as dragon and rider, it is a bond that transcends just friendship or even love. Riding a dragon is terribly difficult. You are not robust like me and you cannot survive the twisting and turning that I can do when flying; you would pass out and fall off! For it to work, the trust between us has to be absolute. We must know each other intimately, completely, passionately.
You don’t live as long as I do, so barring accidents, I will outlive you, and that is hard for a dragon. We do not get over the deaths of our riders easily.
At one time I was ordered to abandon my rider, as I saw it; I can’t tell you why, but it was important. It was a hard thing and almost unheard of.
So I wasn’t there when they needed me most, and I will regret that till the day I pass.
5. Describe your perfect day.
Oh, you poor, cuddly humans don’t get this, or not completely. If you fly on my back, girl, for you it is a thrill. It is fun, exciting and probably a little liberating. But you are not doing the flying; I am.
When I fly, when I feel the air under me like a cushion, when I catch the wind and soar to the highest heights, far above the tallest mountain, I am in my world. Only the Scimrafugol, the beautiful sunbirds, fly higher than me and sometimes we fly together.
I can stay in this open, endless, dreamlike land for hour after hour and nothing can or will ever compare. Ask any dragon and they will tell you the same.
On the other hand, a roast goat will get my attention pretty quickly!
6. Have you ever swum naked?
Just as point of reference, dragons have no modesty! As you can imagine, therefore, we don’t wear clothes.
Oh, I know some wear decorative items and I wear hides for protection (draig can be cut as easily as can you), but never for modesty. My “dragon bits,” as Silvi calls them, are there for the world!
So yes, I love to swim naked. To frolic and dive in the waves, spinning and turning and then to catch a big wave and use it to soar into the air, turn and dive again is a lot of fun!
I may have nearly drowned a few humans in the process, possibly. I am sure they loved it really.
7. What is your most embarrassing memory?
Want a list?
Dragons don’t lie. No, quite honestly, we don’t. We can keep confidences, sort of, and some dragons can be terribly evasive, but if you ask me what colour the sky is, I will tell you the truth.
Lying is not in our heads and is not part of how we think. So true is this that we can be easily deceived by humans; since we cannot lie, we cannot spot a lie. This has made us distrustful sometimes and is why some dragons will not mix with humans.
However, in my case, I am so bad at it that I put my big, clawed foot in it constantly. I have embarrassed my rider so many times by revealing things they were trying to keep quiet about; like their age or something they were planning, or a surprise for their mate.
Oh, there I go again. I keep forgetting that you don’t like your partners being referred to as your “mate.”
Don’t understand why; is sure sounds like you are mating like mad half the time.
Did I mention that dragons have better hearing than humans?
8. Fine dining or a picnic?
Fine dining? Is that little portions or something?
I am beginning to suspect that perhaps you have not quite understood the realities of scale, girl. Draig yr Anialr are not quite as big as Draig Morglas, sea dragons, and nowhere near as big as the Reds, but I am still a large girl. My head is nearly as big as all of you and when I stand, you probably don’t quite reach my hip.
Having said all that, we do like good food. If I am desperate I will kill and eat raw, but I would rather my goat or deer was wrapped in herbs and roasted. I love lamb, a whole one, tied up in leaves and herbs and slow-roasted in hot ashes buried in a pit. Succulent and tender.
Fren-Eirol likes pickled fish, but me, I am not so keen and they give me wind.
9. What makes you angry?
Sorry, girl, I love you like mad. You are small, you look like my friend Silvi who was cute, blonde and funny (as well as being one hell of rider and leader), but you humans! Why do you want to tear the world apart?
I sort of get being territorial when it takes you forever to go anywhere and you want to protect your hunting grounds, but you don’t leave it there. You love putting up fences, inventing gods, creating differences. Not just between tribes, but between male and female. So many of my human female friends have been put down by the males of their kind.
Dragons don’t do any of that. When we pair, that Bren and Fren thing, that is male and female because otherwise we cannot produce young. But other than that? Male and female dragons are often similar sizes (except for the biggest of the Reds), and we love each other whoever we are. We don’t see differences and I am damned certain we won’t invent them.
But you humans? I remember a dragon friend called Maeb-Trien (Maeb is an old form of Mab). Human soldiers killed his mate, his love. I remember him flying over the enemy army, screaming at them, crying. “Tell me why!” he shouted. “Why would you do that? Tell me, for I do not understand!”
So, yes. I love my human friends, but, oh, sometimes you make me so angry and so sad.
10. If you could choose a magic power, what would it be?
Dragons don’t need magic, but a few of us have a little, or what some people see as magic. Draig Bach-Iachawr, healer dragons, can use their talents to push back infections and help heal bones and wounds. But despite their cleverness, they will often resort to herbal remedies to finish the job.
Mab-Tok, a small, darling friend, was the best of them, but he was notorious for his purges. These vial mixtures would be forced down the throat of some poor, vulnerable draig, or even a human a couple of times. They would fill your throat and stomach and lungs and would make you sick and … oh, you might have young readers! Well, it could be messy. Very. For hours.
Put it this way, I remember Fren-Eirol after a terrible accident asking if anyone had anything for a headache. Mab-Tok said he had something, at which point she glared at him and asked if anyone else had anything.
So, a magic power? Yes. Have you any magic to replace those damned purges?
How lucky are we? This is a special sneak preview from the first book of series two, which will be released this year.
It took the mayor ten minutes to quieten the people in the square enough so that he could introduce the king who then ignored the box and stood up on one of the trader’s tables, with apologies to the surprised woman.
“Our kingdom, our lands are in terrible danger,” he shouted out. “This morning, our archers and our friends, the Draig yr Anialr, destroyed a force of one thousand cavalry and five hundred infantry crossing the Fevin Hills to attack Sonaton.” Although dangerously close to the town, the battle had been far enough away that none at the market knew that the Calons had attacked. The murmur that went through the square was of surprise as much as it was of relief.
“But there is now another force, a bigger force of four thousand soldiers heading from the east. They aim to crush our armies and then crush you. We cannot stop them; not on our own.” Now he had their full attention. “I am not going to plead; I am just going to tell you straight. If we are going to have a hope of beating this force, then we need as many archers, longbow and short bow, of any ability to head to Kam today. Not tomorrow, today. The armies of Calon may think they can beat our army, but I am damned sure they cannot beat the people of Hertenesse too. So please, spread the word. Anyone with a bow and arrows, please head to Kam now. Thank you.” As the king stepped down, most of the people stood around in silence, just waiting for someone else to do something first.
“Oh sod this!” Silvi snapped and jumped up onto the table. She took her longbow off her back and notched an arrow. “Before you could take a step I could kill three of you,” she shouted out. The crowd moved back a pace. “You would think I was completely mad. You would believe I am a murderer. Three of the people you love, three friends or family would be dead.” Silvi turned slowly, moving her aim across the crowd. “Today, one of my closest friends, a man who I trusted with my life, was cut to pieces by Calon swords. I do not know how many he killed himself, but when we found him, he was kneeling in his own blood and gore.” She lowered her bow. “I love my friends. They are my family and I will not stand by while the soldiers from Calon hack them to pieces. So why are you still standing here waiting for the Calons to come and kill your friends and your family?” Silvi was angry and her young voice was harsh and tired. “I will be waiting at Kam for all those with the guts to come and stand next to me and next to their king.”
As she finished, Be-Elin landed in the square scattering the crowd. Silvi marched over to the dragon with the king and they climbed onto her back. She stood up on the hides and looked around the silent square, her eyes falling on the busy tavern where at least thirty young men had come out to listen, still carrying their pots of beer. With a growl, Silvi notched two arrows and sent them flying into the tavern door, knocking it shut.
“The tavern stays shut till the bloody Calons are beaten,” she shouted. “Go, Be-Elin.”
As the dragon headed into the sky and back to Fevin Hills to help Sir Nolenn, several young men and women left the square to head to their homes and get their bows. Within an hour the square was empty. The landlord of the tavern opened his door, removed the arrows and then used them to nail a sign to his own door.
“Tavern closed till we beat the bloody Calons.”
Where can I get my hands on a FREE copy of this fabulous book?
About the author
He is also working on a new science fiction title for young teenagers and several musical projects.
His best friend desperately wants to ride a dragon; he would love to make it possible.