Q&A: Author of dragon series talks about next book and its renegade lovers March 15, 2009Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
When I first read Shana Abe, I had only read her historical romances — THE SECRET SWAN and THE PROMISE OF RAIN — and immediately was drawn to her lyrical style of writing and her ability to tell a story like a fairy tale — but with so much more wit, humor and adventure. But then I found out she wrote about mystical beings, dragons, legends AND romance. And promptly read everything else she’d written, including her Drákon series — THE SMOKE THIEF, THE DREAM THIEF, THE QUEEN OF DRAGONS. I asked Shana about her dragons, how she came up with the idea and if she had a thing for Scottish heroes like the one in THE TRUELOVE BRIDE. (CONTEST! Want her next book? Enter a comment and I’ll draw a name. The winner gets an autographed book of THE TREASURE KEEPER, due out March 24.)
(Look for part 2 of the interview, Shana’s advice for aspiring writers, later in the week. UPDATE: I am traveling and having trouble with my Internet connection. I will post part 2 of this in a few days. )
Q. THE TEASURE KEEPER will be the 4th book in your Drákon series. Can you give us a little hint about it beyond what is already out there on the Web?
A. Well, just to briefly explain it, the Drákon Series covers the lives of a secretive, cloistered group of shapeshifters known as the drákon, creatures with the ability to Turn from human into smoke into dragon. Most of the stories are set in the 18th century, which I’ve found is a perfect foil for the drákon. They are primal, feral beings that, for the sake of their survival, are forced to pretend to be what they’re not: human aristocracy. They wear silks and satins, powdered wigs, corsets and rapiers. And for the most part, they pass seamlessly as people. The fun begins, of course, when those seams begin to fray. So THE TREASURE KEEPER is the story of Rhys Langford, son of the Alpha of the drákon tribe, and Zoe Lane, a drákon seamstress considered by most of the tribe to be a remote, ice-cold beauty. But Zoe hides secrets — a lot them. She can’t Turn into a dragon, but she can Turn invisible. And see ghosts in glass. And hear the voices of the dead. One of the ghosts who haunts her most clearly is Rhys — and no one even knew he was dead. It was a cool story to write. It takes place almost entirely in Paris, just a few years before the revolution. It was a gritty, glittering time … a perfect setting for a pair of renegade drákon lovers.
Q. We’ve heard you are writing a 5th Drákon book. Can you tell us anything about that? And will there be more in there series?
A. I actually can’t tell you anything about this fifth book in the series without revealing a crucial spoiler for THE TREASURE KEEPER. No one likes spoilers! 😉 I can tell you that it does continue the saga of the drákon, and it covers new times and new locations as well. As for what may come after *that*… I honestly don’t know, LOL. I do have another idea for the drákon, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.
Q. Do you have a favorite Drákon character? If so – who and why?
A. All of them are dear to my heart. Not what you wanted to hear, is it? LOL. Seriously. Each one is unique, and each revealed characteristics as I was writing them that ranged from glorious to admirable to irritating. I like my characters to be as fully dimensional as I can make them, which means they aren’t perfect. They have flaws, but they work to overcome them. It’s one of the aspects of them that makes them so fascinating. Okay, and all that being said, I think one of my most favorite characters from the series isn’t actually drákon, but human: Zane, the hero of THE DREAM THIEF. He was a street urchin rescued by a drákon as a child, and who grew up to be a powerful London crime lord. He’s sly and funny and extraordinarily clever … he had to be, to compete with all those hot drákon males, LOL. Plus, he ends up falling in love with a dragon-woman who’s strong enough and good enough to straighten him out … some. 😉
Q. When you wrote THE SMOKE THIEF did you know it would turn into a series?
A. I didn’t! I thought I had a good idea for a good book, and I wrote it. When it was done, my editor came back and basically said, “It’s fantastic. Can you make it bigger?” And I said, “Sure!” That’s when I came up with the back-story for the series, which is told in the first chapter, in first person, in each book. Each time a little bit more about the history — and the future — of the drákon is revealed. It’s a bit like wrapping a fairy tale around the main story, each time. And it’s a nice way to tie all the books together, because they’re all pretty much stand-alone titles.
Q. How did you come up with this great Drákon world? Did it come together over years of world-building in your head or did you have an “aha!” moment? (Where you out walking or doing dishes or something when it all clicked?)
A. Actually, I was studying hawks when I had that moment. I have pet house rabbits, and whenever I let them outside to play, I stand watch because there are so many predators that would love a rabbit snack. You’ve got to keep a sharp eye out on the ground *and* the skies. So I watch the hawks, and they watch me, and we have a kind of mutual standoff, LOL. One day I was watching a courting couple, admiring their grace in flight, when I just thought: “Dragons!” I had wanted to write about shapeshifters, but I wasn’t sure what kind until right then. Dragons made perfect sense to me. No one else was doing it at the time, and since they were mythological creatures, I could define their reality however I wanted. It was perfect.
Q. You have some novels that are not paranormal romance but touching historical romances. Is it hard to switch back and forth? Will you be writing another historical romance soon?
A. When I’m writing, I tend to focus exclusively on that particular story, no matter its parameters. The story that comes to me is the story that comes to me. That said, I admit I really enjoy the fantasy element of writing paranormals. It adds a dimension of creative freedom not possible in straight historicals. Still, if the notion for a purely historical romance should come to me, I would write it. I’m totally at the mercy of my imagination, LOL.
Q. I know you’ve been to Scotland, so is that why you’re so big on those sexy Scottish heroes, like the one in THE TRUELOVE BRIDE, for example? Did your trips inspire you to write any particular stories? (You really seem to have a thing for islands, too!!!)
A. Mmmm … Scottish men. Yum. I actually came up with the idea for THE TRUELOVE BRIDE while in the Highlands. I was still writing the book that came before it, THE PROMISE OF RAIN, at the time, so I frantically scribbled down my idea and then tried to put it out of my mind. But it didn’t work; I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I sort of began writing it while finishing up the other book. I suppose there was something about being in that environment, surrounded by all that history, that truly sparked my imagination. And yes, you’re right, I do have a thing for islands! I don’t know what that’s about, LOL. There are quite a few loch islands in Scotland, plus, of course, the Hebrides. Islands strike me as being very similar to fairy tales: familiar yet foreign, because there is an actual distance involved, and it’s a chore to cross that distance. It’s easy to imagine magic on an island, or in a dense woods, or high atop a bleak mountain peak. These are places we know intellectually but don’t usually dwell in long physically. It opens a door in the imagination that might not exist in a more mundane place.
Q. Any plans to switch to another genre? Or do another book of short stories?
A. Not at this time. But never say never. I honestly have no idea what the future holds. I mostly feel very, very fortunate to still have this job.
Also, check back here at the end of the week for Shana’s tips for writers!!!!
LIKE THIS FEATURE? I have more authors coming. Go to ASK AN AUTHOR at the top of the page for the list and let me know who you’d like me to interview next or what questions you have for them. Also — suggestions for the Web site? You can simply leave requests and suggestions as a comment. Thanks! — Diana
CONGRATS: To Quilt Lady. She was the winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of BLOOD MAGIC by Jennifer Lyon. (Read that interview “BLOOD MAGIC AUTHOR TALKS ABOUT HER HERO AND HUGH JACKMAN” HERE. Also check out her tips for authors HERE.)