My Five Favorite Dragons in Fantasy
5. Falkor – The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, 1979
Like every kid from the ‘80s who read the English translation of the Neverending Story, I saw the movie first. Falkor was a friendly and fluffy creature with far more in common with puppy dog than a dragon. He was ever so nice, plucking Atreyu out of the Swamps of Sadness and flying almost ten thousand miles to boy’s next challenge while Atreyu forgot about his horse losing the will to live.
4. Toothless – How to Train Your Dragon, 2010
Oh em gee, how cute is Toothless! Dreamworks did such a good job with him. He has courage, loyalty, and spunk. There’s more personality in that little ball of pixels than in half of the major cast of the Star Wars prequels combined. Writing-wise, I actually feel there’s more character growth illustrated in Toothless than in his human companion, Hiccup…and Hiccup was well rounded, too.
3. Maleficent – Sleeping Beauty, Disney, 1959
She’s not just one of my favorite dragons ever. She is, hands down, my favorite Disney character of all time. She’s dark, intelligent, and beautiful. I grew up believing that the witch cursed Aurora out of spite for not being invited to celebration. As an adult, I’ve come to see Maleficent differently. Her quips about being slighted were just for sake of conversation. She cursed Aurora because she felt like it. Maleficent wasn’t misunderstood. She was evil. Plain and simple.
2 & 1. Garrett Terago and Aoni’a – The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles, by Sean Poindexter. (2012)
Sean Poindexter’s dragons are massive, yet graceful creatures who spend much of their time in human form and amass beautiful treasures in out of the way fortresses. They don’t care about having the wealth as much as they are compelled to collect it, and defend it. They also live a very long time, form families of sorts, and have wildly varied degrees of interaction with humans.
Garrett Terago and his friend, Aoni’a, could not be more different. He’s asexual and hiding out in the Ozarks when we meet him. Aonia lives in Los Angeles and parties with celebrities. They are close friends. The type who’ve known each other for so long, they have few secrets. She delights in pushing his buttons. Garrett is the self-controlling type and rarely gets upset, which gives Aoni’a all the more incentive to misbehave.
The two are not coupled in the book—Garrett’s love interest is an utterly human woman—but the fact that Aoni’a wants him, and he has no sexual interest in her at all provides for a lot of delicious tension over the two books so far.
Guest Author Interview: Wendy S. Russo:
CJB: What authors or books have been most influential in your writing? Why?
WSR: Neal Stephenson, Umberto Eco, and Stephen King.
Eco opened my eyes to the use of logical fallacy as a frame for storytelling. Logic tells us that if A is true and B is true…if all of the premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true. His book, Foucault’s Pendulum, the main character takes hundreds of years of historical facts and builds a massive conspiracy based on a document he believe to be a Templar plan to avenge the death of their last grandmaster, Jacque De Molay. Years later, the main character’s wife takes one look at the document and says, “It’s a grocery list.” She’s right. And people die because of what he has done. I was so impressed by Foucault’s Pendulum book, and his next novel, The Island of the Day Before, that while I found other books interesting, it took more than ten years for me to find a book that touched me the same way.
That book was Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson. The depth and complexity of storytelling by both Stephenson and Eco is amazing. However, I will admit that it’s one of Stephenson’s shorter books, “The Diamond Age,” that wears the crown my favorite book ever.
Finally, there’s Stephen King. I avoided King for a long time because I thought he’d scare the crap out of me. A lifeguard I worked with one summer suggested that I read Robert McCammon’s “Swan Song.” After that, I was brave enough to read King’s “The Dark Half,” which I loved, and in its last few pages, it taught me something very important about mainstream published authors. As celebrated as they are, as much money they make, they have faults. They make mistakes. Stephen King has a problem ending his stories. He knows it. Everyone knows it. He takes a lot of guff for it, but he keeps on doing what he does. That has stayed with me as I’ve worked toward my first publication.
My favorite King novel is “The Eyes of the Dragon,” which taught me something very valuable, too. You can please every reader in the world, but maybe only one at a time. King wrote “The Eyes of the Dragon” for his daughter, Tabitha, who was 13 at the time. She loved to read, but dad’s creepy-crawlies were not her thing. She told King at the end of this book that her only problem with it was that it ended. I’ve always thought that was sweet.
CJB: Tell us a little about your newest/upcoming book.
WSR: January Black is a YA Science Fiction/Fantasy coming of age story. It follows 16-year-old Matty Ducayn, an unruly genius recently expelled from school, and his gardener girlfriend, Iris Locke, on a two-year hunt for an answer to a deceptively simple question. What was January Black? The only answer is “a ship.” Everyone in the kingdom knows that. It would be exactly like asking an American third grader, “What is the Mayflower?” But the king’s question is actually a riddle of sorts, involves semantics, and on his quest, Matty uncovers a state secret buried for centuries. Along the way, he falls in love, gets his heart broken, and is eventually forced to choose between satisfying his curiosity and his life, because answering the king’s question will mean going toe-to-toe with against his kingdom’s oppressive central government.
Several readers have mentioned “dystopian” in their reviews.
CJB: How are you going to celebrate the release? Do you have any traditions?
WSR: This is my very first published book and I celebrated by going to the house of a friend and signing her copy. Seriously, Candace–she’s mentioned in the acknowledgements–she saw the print copy before I did!
CJB: What future projects are you looking forward to?
WSR: I am working on two series right now–one YA paranormal fantasy, one NA sci-fi–that reside in the same alternate timeline. The big joining factor right now is an emo rock band called “Parvana.” (Shout out to Jean Murray. The band gets their name from her book, “Soul Awakened.”) Anyhow, the band has scenes in both books. Most of my attention recently has been on a series I’m calling “The Choir Boys.” It has an Angels vs. Fallen storyline. In the first book, we meet a cute couple of high school juniors who get caught up in the angels’ on-going war when an ambush of a fallen angel goes horribly wrong. I’m toying with ways to turn prom into a night no one will ever forget, even if no one remembers it correctly. *Cheshire cat grin*
CJB: Where can we find you online?
About Guest Author Wendy S. Russo:
Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.