Next in our ongoing series of Morris finalist interviews, John Corey Whaley talks to Len Vlahos about his debut novel, The Scar Boys. Go forth, ye admirers of awesome, and check it out!
And here we are with Morris interview #2 already! Elizabeth C Bunce interviews nominee Leslye Walton about her debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Another one for your ever-growing to-read list. Congrats to Leslye!
So I’ve been thinking how best to appreciate dragons today. If I were any kind of baker, I’d have made a cake, but since I’m a writer, I fear you’re going to have to settle for words. They’re less fattening, certainly, but maybe not quite as tasty.
Over at Suvudu, they’re celebrating by excerpting the first chapter of Shadow Scale. I know some of you are being patient and won’t go for that, since it will just leave you hungry for more (hm! Maybe words are tastier than I give them credit for). Your patience will soon be rewarded: less than two months to go. Still, even if you don’t care to read the excerpt, go give Suvudu a hug for me. I’m so grateful for their support and enthusiasm.
You can find lots of excellent pictures of dragons on Twitter by following #AppreciateADragonDay. The medieval manuscript art is my favourite, but there are also Komodo dragons, Smaug, Toothless, something for everyone. The good folks at Random House have also compiled a “Seraphina Playlist” of recent tunes:
(NB: “Cold War” was my suggestion; the rest were suggested by people more knowledgeable of recent music than I am. There will also be a playlist of songs I actually listened to while working.)
Updated to add: Here’s my playlist! It’s a more eccentric mixture, I’ll grant you that.
For my own part, I’m going to answer the question posed by my husband last night: Why dragons?
It’s a good question, and one that’s actually kind of difficult for me to answer because I started loving dragons when I was quite young, before I was able to articulate any kind of reason beyond the fact that they were powerful and super cool. Other supernatural creatures couldn’t compare, in fact I don’t think there’s a one that holds my interest like a dragon.
My earliest exposure to dragons — besides Andrew Lang’s fairy books, which surely had dragons in them, but I don’t remember the specifics — must have been C. S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which I read at about age seven. Eustace Clarence Scrubb is turned into a dragon by his greed, and then in the book’s most vivid and memorable scene (to young me, anyway), Aslan peels off Eustace’s dragon skin and turns him human again. It’s a striking image and it underscores an important point about dragons: as much as we might wish to deny it, they’re a reflection of ourselves.
I think dragons combine two warring parts of our nature, the contradiction inherent in all of us, that we may be simultaneously monstrous and wise. Some depictions take both traits to extremes, while others lean more heavily toward the bestial or the godly. Smaug, I think, embodies both. The dragons of Pern, or of E. K. Johnston’s The Story of Owen veer toward the animalistic end of the spectrum (Owen, in particular, gives us dragons as a force of nature, as destructive – and brainy – as a hurricane). One of my favourite clever dragons is Vollys, from Two Princesses of Bamarre, who finds that vast intelligence can be unsatisfying without an audience.
That’s a lot of variation, right there, but that’s the beauty of the beast. There’s so much scope for interpretation and nuance. My own area of interest has been on the intersection of dragons and humanity — to what extent are we dragons and are dragons us? I do suspect (and honestly, this is NEW, the first time I’m thinking of this) that this interest might just be traceable to Eustace Clarence Scrubb.
Monster or Saint, creator or destroyer, bestial or transcendent, dragons — like the rest of us — are full of vibrant potential.
* Tomorrow is Appreciate a Dragon Day! No, really, I wouldn’t lie about something that important. I’m still figuring out my best course of action. I think I’m going to take mine out to dinner and then spend a relaxing evening watching Constantine. Maybe we’ll play Munchkin with the little dragon. How about you?
* Bay Area friends! This one’s really happening: I’m going to be speaking, reading, or maybe even singing at Not Your Mother’s Book Club in Palo Alto on February 2nd at 7pm! Full info here, at the NYMBC blog.
Did I say singing? I meant signing. Yessss… that’s what I meant. Don’t be frightened. I hardly ever sing in public. Almost never. Really.
And the first of our Morris nominee interviews is live! Today, Steph Kuehn (last year’s winner, who I interviewed here) talks to Isabel Quintero about her debut novel, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces.
The interview at Steph’s site
ALA Midwinter is coming up, friends, and bringing with it many fabulous book awards. The William C. Morris Award is for the year’s best YA debut. Seraphina won it a few years ago, you may recall. Every year, in a lovely tradition begun by the first Morris winner, Elizabeth C. Bunce, past winners interview this year’s crop of nominees. Here’s the schedule for this year’s interviews, and where they will be posted. If you haven’t read any of the nominees, I encourage you to check them out. These are some wonderful new voices, and I know we’ll be hearing more from each of them in years to come.
Thursday, Jan 15
Stephanie Kuehn interviews Isabel Quintero, author of Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
Monday, Jan 19
Elizabeth C. Bunce interviews Leslye Walton, author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Thursday, Jan 22
John Corey Whaley interviews Len Vlahos, author of The Scar Boys
Monday, Jan 26
Blythe Woolston interviews Jessie Ann Foley, author of The Carnival at Bray
Thursday, Jan 29
Rachel Hartman interviews E.K. Johnston, author of The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim
http://rachelhartmanbooks.com/ — why, that’s me!
So my Appearances page, which was apparently stuck in 2012, has now been updated to reflect the Near Future. There’s still some vagueness to it all, unfortunately, but I’ll be sharpening things up as soon as I can.
My soonest jaunt will be to Toronto for the Ontario Library Association’s Superconference. Whee! Librarians are awesome. I doubt that’s open to the public, however. Will there be a public event? Not sure yet. Like I said: we’re still a little vague around the edges.
The first week of February sees my Western Paperback Tour, in honour of the Seraphina paperback, and then the Shadow Scale tour will run mid-March. Again, it’s not set in stone yet, but the cities seem pretty certain, so I’ve listed those.