I'm just back from a fabulous weekend away at my dear sister-friend Erin's house (where I got to play with my namesake niece, baby Annie . . . SQUEEEEE!)
But I'm scrambling to catch up a bit now, so I do apologize for posting this a little bit later than usual.
Be sure to leave comments! Everyone who leaves a comment for each day of the week will be entered in a name-drawing at the end of the week. You could win an autographed copy of Veiled Rose, Moonblood, or Starflower!
the original short-story version of Heartless,
the Dragon never took this other form. And when I began writing the novel, I
had no intention of him being anything other than the classic, fire-breathing
when I started writing this scene for the first time, it came to be
suddenly--in a bolt of inspiration--that the Dragon was not limited to this one
shape. Why would he be? He is a being of pure evil, and evil can take so many,
even as I wrote the scene, I watched with horror akin to Una's as he crossed
the bridge, folded his wings, and suddenly became a towering man with lifeless
skin stretched over the black skull of his head, his eyes blazing with deep,
was many drafts later that I added in the early scenes of Una's dream that
foreshadowed the Dragon taking this form. But when I first wrote it, this was
the first that I saw him this way. Shudder!
of you might notice some loose connections to vampire mythology surrounding the
Dragon. For instance, Una is told to "invite him in," etc. I actually
didn't realize that I had done this when I first wrote the story! It wasn't
until one of my beta readers, librarian Edward Blessing, pointed it out to me
that I realized that mythology had slipped in there. I believe I had been
reading Dracula for the first time
around then, so that might have had
something to do with it.
I realized it, however, I decided to leave it. Vampires are another classic
symbol of evil that have been, in recent history "tamed." Just like
dragons. So I thought it fitting to reclaim some of their malevolence and
wickedness in my own literary endeavor.
Oh, Una, you
know me. Some
people have been confused by this line over time. They've asked me, did this
refer to the dream? Or had she actually met him at some point in her life that
we didn't know about?
don't think this line refers to either of those possibilities. I think it
refers to Una's unconscious knowledge of her own wickedness. She knows, deep
down in a part of her spirit that remains unacknowledged, that she is as evil
as he. That his fire lives inside her. And it's only a matter of time until
that fire will respond to his voice and come raring to life. So in that
respect, she knows him without ever
having met him.
recognizes the Dragon. They all know who he is the moment they see him.
Perhaps they don't know him by name, or even know how they know him. But he is as familiar to them as their own faces
in a mirror. I think that is part of what makes him so dreadful! It would be
one thing if (as in Veiled Rose) he
appeared in his dragon-form, all fire and wings and scales. We would understand
the immediate terror that vision would create! But this form of a man is
somehow more horrible by far, and everyone knows him, and everyone obeys him.
Monster and the
brave Monster feels at the first whiff of the Dragon. I'll bet the Dragon
disguised himself somehow so that Monster did not sense his presence long, long
ago. We know this knightly cat has highly developed senses so that he can even
smell out Una's dreams. But he did not know the Dragon was coming until the
Dragon was in the house. So I'll be the Dragon knew he was there and hid
the Dragon's wicked comments to Una . .
. do you think maybe he knows Monster is a Knight? I think perhaps he does. But
he is much more focused on Una at the moment. (For those of you who have read Veiled Rose . . . interesting to note
that the Dragon doesn't seem even remotely bothered by Monster, while he is
obviously quite nervous of Beana!)
Fidel. The king
obviously knows exactly who the
Dragon is the moment he sees him. I can't help but wonder if Aethelbald's
warnings all flooded back through his mind in an instant upon that sight. How
he must have blamed himself! But he is a brave man, and protective of his
children and his kingdom. A futile courage, but courage nonetheless.
The man with the
I just remembered . . . for most of this scene, the Dragon is referred to as
"the man with the white face," almost as though it's his name. Want
to know where I got that from? Tuck
Everlasting. The villain of that story is called, throughout the novel, the
man with the yellow suit. I always thought that dehumanizing title was so
chilling, so I liked using that little technique, however briefly, in this
introductory chapter of the Dragon. Thought you might find that tidbit
Una, ferocious. I sometimes get
a little frustrated when reviewers talk about my Una as being totally helpless
and spineless. Because the fact is, she several times over tries to attack the
Dragon all by herself! Look at this moment when the Dragon is kicking Fidel
down. Una actually grabs the Dragon's hand and bites it! She literally bites
yeah. I don't think she's as spineless as all that. She's a princess, yes. She's
been sheltered, sure, and she's no warrior maiden. But she is fiercely
protective of her family!
simply no match for the Dragon.
He will come. The one thought
that gives Una peace, even as the inferno face of the Dragon leans in upon her.
"He will come."
who does she mean? Leonard seems an obvious choice. But Leonard wasn't the only
one who promised to return to her . . . And she doesn't say a name here.
it is, the thought itself is enough to make the Dragon pull back, saying,
"You'll be ready in time."
Alone in Oriana.
Una shuts the door, and she is alone in the enormous palace that was her safe
1. This is another
one of those scenes that changed very little from the original scene I
scribbled out by hand in the first draft. It came to me so clearly, so vividly,
so horribly, and I really could hardly improve upon it. I still think it's some
of the best writing in the whole book, outmatching even many of the later
scenes that I composed as a "better" writer. So I'll not pick
favorite lines because I really (perhaps arrogantly) love this whole section!
Questions on the
1. What do you
think . . . did the Dragon compel Una to invite him to her home, or did she
secretly, deep down inside, want him
to come into her home?
2. Who do you think
Una means when she thinks, "He will come?"
3. What do you make
of the contrast between the first half of the book and the events taking place
now? Do you like it? Is it perhaps a bit too jarring? A good sort of jarring?
4. Favorite lines?