Watch out dragons... Here be Aaron!

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War Is now available as a book and ebook.

Aaron is a brat, which is understandable after everything he's been through. He also sees dragons when he hums, which isn't understandable by anyone, ever. He soon gets sucked into the dragons' dangerous war, where his only defences are his embarrassingly magical fingernails, and a fierce, ten-year-old girl.

Available everywhere across the world! Check out goodreads / amazon uk / amazon us / barnes & noble / book depository or your favourite book or ebook retailer.

Monday, 24 April 2017

St George

Let me start by saying that I don't condone the killing of dragons in any way. But since I covered St David's Day I thought it only fair to tell the story of St George, the dragon killer.


The Saint George story dates back at least as long ago as the 13th century, where it was included in a book all about saints known as the Golden Legend. That story was all in Latin though, so it wasn't that easy to understand. Instead, here's my version.

A long long time ago, there lived a soldier called George. He was probably born in Turkey but nobody's quite sure, but one day he turned up in a village that had a dragon in it.

Nobody really liked this dragon. It flew around, destroying the countryside and eating what it could. The villagers realised they could stop it doing too much damage if they kept it fed, so they fed it two sheep every day. This was fine, except they soon ran out of sheep.

What do you do when you run out of sheep? Send up some pigs? Horses? Some other animals? Presumably the village was still eating something, so they could easily have sent something else to the dragon. But no, for some reason the village decided to send the dragon a human child to eat. Every day, a different child, chosen at random. They pretty much held a raffle, "And today's winner is eight-year0old Daniel from the farmer's cottage. Your prize is a one-way trip to somewhere hot. That's right, the dragon's mouth!"

Nobody knows how the dragon felt about the change in his diet, but it ate the kids anyway. I don't know what would have happened when they ran out of kids, maybe try cabbages? Or the elderly? Anyway one day it got really bad because the local princess won the raffle (Villages in those days all had a princess in them). The king decided enough was enough now that his own daughter was going to be eaten, and promised to marry her off to anyone who could kill the dragon. Luckily this was the same day that George came into town.

According to the story in the Golden legend, he didn't just ride up and kill the dragon. First, he asked the princess for the garter that was holding up one of her tights and stuck it around the dragon's neck. The dragon was so embarrassed about wearing the princess's underwear that it obediently followed George into the village.

By the time the dragon had got to the village it was getting a bit tetchy, and the villagers were a little bit scared that they were all about to get toasted. At this point George could have killed the dragon, but he held out a little bit longer.

"I could kill the dragon," he said, "Or I could set it free and let it have a village barbecue. If you want me to kill it then you all need to become Christians"

"But we thought religion was a personal choice," shouted the villagers.

"No it isn't, become Christians or I'll murder you at dragonpoint" said George.

"Oh alright then" said the villagers, and George killed the dragon. Then he was made a saint because of all the Christians he had made.

THE END.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The best reviews are from the kids!

Just to share this lovely review that I got on Amazon:



Hooray! Aaron Gray and the Dragon War is a children's book that actual ten-year-olds actually enjoy. And ten-year-old boys too, who are traditionally a tough crowd to please! 

This makes me very happy!

In answer to your question, I know what's going to happen in book two and have written lots of notes about it. In May I'm going to sit down and carefully turn it into a proper story. Then I need to edit it a million times and get it ready for publishing. I think it's going to all be ready for you to read it in October 2018, which isn't that long at all when you think about it.

In the meantime, there are short stories and other things related to Breveny every Wednesday on this blog, plus other stuff every Monday and Friday. You're welcome to have a look!

Best wishes

David


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

An update on Hilary Hobgoblin

Hilary Hobgoblin is still enjoying his second adventure on twitter (At least I hope he is, he's a moody old thing so it's hard to tell!) He went to see Cecil the dragon and arrived shortly after Alec and the kids had left on their adventures. I would imagine he's going to stay a few steps behind them, and see all the messes they're leaving behind. Do pop over and have a look at Brevenynews! - I think he'd probably like a few more followers.

Monday, 17 April 2017

La Tanière du Dragon

In the fluffy fairytale land of Disneyland Paris is a bright pink fairytale castle. But underneath that castle, is the bestest animatronic dragon ever made!



Here's some of my favourite facts about this dragon. Most information is stolen from https://www.designingdisney.com/content/designing-fantasyland-dragon-lair if you want to know more.

1) It's big!

The dragon measures 89 feet from head to toe, and when it was built it was the world's largest animatronic figure.

2) It's friends with Merlin

Although the castle at Disneyland Paris is known as Sleeping Beauty's, the official story is that she shares it with Merlin (which is why there's Merlin themed stores on the lower level). Merlin and the dragon met one day and didn't realise they were supposed to be enemies, they made friends and the dragon moved into the cellar.

3) It moves when it's asleep too!

The tail and feet move when the dragon is asleep. Just like a cat or a dog.

4) New technology was needed to build the dragon and its lair

Disney not only developed animatronics generally and made this dragon possible, but also designed a new system to make the caves smokey without poisoning or smoking out the guests. The resultant smoke machines are the size of four sugar cubes.

5) I call him Cecil.

If you don't know why, then you obviously haven't read Aaron Gray and the Dragon War!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Guest Bloggers Needed!

I would like to take a moment to offer you an exciting opportunity!

In May I'll be busy finishing the first draft of Breveny book 2, Aaron Gray and the <cough cough cough cough>, which means I'll have less time to keep the blog updated. Therefore if you have anything you would like to say to the thousands of people who visit my blog each month (no seriously, there are thousands. I don't understand why either.) then now is your chance.

Usually the blog updates three times a week. Mondays are usually to do with real life things that are kind of related to Breveny. For example dragons across the world or in other books, interesting things about children in care, that kind of thing, so if you want to share something interesting that you know, then Monday is your day. Wednesday is usually additional information to do with Breveny itself, so this is when I post quizzes and stories and other tit-bits. Friday is when I respond to things that have happened, messages I've been sent, or ask for your help with things.

I'm not wedded to this format, so if you have anything you want to talk about, then please do get in touch!

David

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Short Story Excerpt: CCTV

Another Short Scene from another angle of Aaron Gray and the Dragon War... I thought we'd pay another visit to Mrs Seeger.

“You can’t find him?” Mrs Seeger’s hands were shaking so much she could feel the phone vibrating against her ear. “But he always goes into town, that’s how we knew he was…”

She couldn’t bring herself to say the word “safe”. Aaron wasn’t safe. He was missing. Properly missing.

“I know,” the staff member from the care home said, using the same false calm voice that Mrs Seeger used when trying to reassure panicking parents. “But we’ll find him. He was seen catching the bus straight after he left here, and we’ve asked the bus company for their CCTV so we can see where he got off.”

“Right, so who’s at the bus company?”

“I was just going down now, I’m meeting the police there in half an hour.”

“Okay, good. So what have the police said so far?”

“Not much. They seem to think it’s normal behaviour for Aaron, but they’re keeping a lookout.

Mrs Seeger could hear her voice raising. “It’s not normal behaviour for Aaron. I mean sure he’s ran away before but he’s never disappeared. We’ve always been able to find him.”

“I know. I’ll let you know more when I’ve seen the CCTV.”

“No you won’t. I’m coming too. I’ll meet you outside the bus office.”

Mrs Seeger put down the phone before the staff member could object. She drove to the main office of the bus company as quickly as she could and arrived at the same time as the police officer. The care home staff member arrived twenty minutes later, carrying a take-away coffee cup. They went inside, and after brief introductions were shown to a room with a colour TV screen. They watched in silence, the only sounds being a nearby computer and the slurp of take-away coffee.

Mrs Seeger watched the screen as Aaron calmly boarded the bus, chatting to a young girl about the same age as him, with shoulder length brown hair and large blue eyes. Later some slightly older children boarded the bus, and Mrs Seeger could see Aaron tense. She wondered if they had anything to do with his disappearance. A few moments later Aaron was laughing and opening the bus window. The screen appeared to skip slightly and Aaron and the girl vanished.

“Wait. What happened there? Can we rewind?” Mrs Seeger found a rewind button on the console in front of her and watched again as the two children vanished. “Are we missing some video?”

“No. Look at the timestamp,” said the police officer. It’s all there, and none of the other passengers have moved.

“So what, they just vanished then?” snapped Mrs Seeger.

“No… Well I don’t know, but we’ll find out.” The policeman paused the video. “At any rate we know their whereabouts up until this point, and we know that they were last seen at…” He pointed at the view out of the bus window. “...the theatre fountain. I’ll go over there and see if anyone’s seen anything.”

Monday, 10 April 2017

Book Recommendation: One for the Pern geeks

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the book series that got me hooked on dragons in the first place, "The Dragonriders of Pern" series. Imagine my delight several years ago when my friend told me about "The Dragonlover's guide to Pern"  Basically you know that Harry Potter encyclopedia that JK Rowling's always rumoured to be writing? Well this is the equivalent for the Pern books.


It's amazing! It has recipes for "Klah" (their version of coffee), loads of fascinating facts about the world they live in, and thankfully (as this blog tends to focus on dragons) loads of stuff on the dragons of Pern. For example - Here's a dragon's skeletal structure:


And examples of dragons by other objects to give some idea of their size:



Now it's worth noting that the dragons in the Pern series are officially genetically modified animals from the future, rather than your traditional mythological dragons, but they're still amazing and worth knowing about!


Friday, 7 April 2017

A plea for reviews

Dear everyone who has read Aaron Gray and the Dragon War,

Please please please can you leave the book a review, either on Amazon or Goodreads (or even both)? I really can't emphasise how important this is for me as an author.

Both Amazon and Goodreads use their customer reviews to decide whether to recommend particular books to other people, and when I try to get other bookstores to stock the book, the first thing they do is check what people think of it online, so you can see the awesome power that's in your hands right now that could make the book a success.

You don't have to write much, just give it a rating and say something like "I liked it". If you want to write more then of course that would be amazing, and I'll feature exciting reviews and messages in the usual Friday blog slot.

I have some great comments to share over the next few weeks, but I'll stop there for today.

Thanks

David


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Where in Breveny should you live?

I've made a quiz!

https://uquiz.com/b4HfKk?p=83421

Welcome to Breveny Estate Agents. We are committed to finding the perfect place for you to live in the magical world of Breveny....

Do take the quiz and let me know where you end up :)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Disneyland Paris has a new dragon!

Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. As part of the celebrations, they have an awesome new parade with an awesome new FIREBREATHING STEAMPUNK DRAGON!


A similar dragon already exists in Orlando's magic kingdom, but this one's subtly different and matches the Discoveryland steampunk theme a bit more closely.

The dragon is known as "The Dragon of Malefic" and fits with the story of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, a natural fit for Disneyland Paris as it contains Sleeping Beauty's Castle. There's also a second dragon beneath the castle, which I will blog about in 2 weeks' time.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Fools Day Post: An Important April Announcement!

April Fool's Day Post 2017


Now that it's finally April, I can announce an exciting collaboration between me and Coventry City Council. Introducing....

The Brand New and Exciting "Breveny World" Water Park!!



As part of Coventry's bid for City of Culture in 2021, all new developments are being given a literary theme. As I'm a Coventry author, I was approached to see whether I wanted the new waterpark to be themed around Breveny, the magical world from Aaron Gray and the Dragon War.

 Daisy O'Parfoll, Spokeswoman for the Department of Leisure and Culture, said:

"We are excited to give our new waterpark a theme that is both local, playful and magical. Aaron Gray and the Dragon War is a classic novel for a new generation, and we have the same high hopes for our waterpark. We look forward to sharing more information as plans progress."
Attractions will include:

Aaron and Julia's Sky Fall

Experience what it was like for Aaron and Julia to arrive in Breveny. Begin in what looks like the back of a bus before plummetting through a flume into the new world below. The flume itself will be the same green colour as Cecil the dragon, and the exit pool will be in dragon dung brown


The Taciton Tunnel

Based on the forest full of sleeping trees in the novel, this is a long and twisted waterslide leading safely to the exit pool. Don't make a noise though as this will "wake up" the water jets and make the ride much more turbulent! 

The Flame of Arboris

Just like the flame of Arboris the dragon, this flume is quick, precise and will be over before you know it.

Gertrude's Revenge

Gertrude has gone back to the entrance tunnel to celebration village, but oh no! The middle section of the tunnel is missing! Can you navigate the missing part and make it to safety?

Mestor Mayhem

This ride has two parts. Firstly there is a gentle chute leading into a dark, water-filled cavern. Spooky music plays to emulate the Mestor Caves in the novel. Can you find the exit and slide to safety, or will the water jets firing at you from the ceiling impede your progress? Watch out for vampire sprites!

The Calmat Spa

Calmat is where the residents of Breveny go to unwind. You can do the same with our hot tub, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.

The Naiad Party Pool

One for the tiny tots! Play in our party pool with the Naiads and see if you can control the water with your magical fingernails!


So that's it! Keep an eye out for further announcements, including how they're going to include the ghost zombies from book two!



 Further information about Coventry's exciting new waterpark can be found at http://www.coventry.gov.uk/news/article/1630/city_centre_water_park_designs_unveiled.

Friday, 31 March 2017

A message from Waterstones

For those who tried to order Aaron Gray and the Dragon War in store at Waterstones, your troubles may be at an end! I have received the following email from the lovely Eva at Waterstones:

"Dear David,

Thank you for getting in touch. I had a look at the record for your title on the system and it is listed as available to order. There might have been a temporary glitch on the system, but I can assure you that everything is now correctly set up and your book is available to order from our shops and Waterstones.com . I apologise for any inconvenience this might have caused.

Kind regards,

Eva"

Hooray! If you do try to order in store then I would love to know how you get on. I'm going to try myself next week.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Short Story: Missing from Care

Now that Aaron Gray and the Dragon War has been out a while, I think it's safe to include some short stories that take place after the start of the book. So this story takes place behind the scenes of chapter one and therefore contains very slight spoilers.

Missing From Care

Harold first realised something was wrong when Mrs Seeger walked into his office with a towel covering her blouse. He finished the mouthful of sandwich he was eating, letting the last few tastes of chocolate spread fade from his tongue.

"Visit went well, did it? Let me guess. Aaron's done a runner again."

"Afraid so," Mrs Seeger said, rolling her eyes. "I had a feeling it would go badly."

"And you still wore a white blouse?"

“I know! Rookie mistake! But I’m in court this afternoon and I wanted to make a good impression. I’ve got a spare suit in the car though.”

“Okay, so what happened?” Harold felt for the right form in his desk drawer. “Might as well get the paperwork done before we go and get him.”

“You don’t want to drag him back from the bus stop again then?”

Harold paused, and then shook his head. Unfortunately this wasn’t his first runaway. Or even his hundredth. “No, he needs to cool down. Last time we picked him up too soon was when he smashed his window and snuck out again in the middle of the night...”

Mrs Seeger sighed, “I remember. Thank goodness the train conductor had seen our appeal on twitter!”

“Precisely, so if you agree I think we should let him calm down, he’ll get the bus into town and hang around with his mates from the chip shop, and we’ll check he’s okay in a couple of hours.”

“There’s the risk he’ll go somewhere else though,” said Mrs Seeger.

Harold knew she was just playing devil’s advocate. Aaron always went to the same place, and she knew he was safe there. “Yeah but we take the same risk every time we send him to school. I think it’s the best option for Aaron.”

“Agreed. So can one of your staff pick him up later? I’m the last person he’d want to see at the moment.”

“No problem.” Harold filled in Aaron’s name and address at the top of the form. He reached a box that was simply labelled “circumstances”.

“So why did he run this time? You told him about his dad?”

“That’s the one. He did not take it well.”

Harold sniffed. “Poor kid. He’s a little brat but he’s a good lad.”

“He is.” Mrs Seeger smiled. “I’ve got high hopes for that boy. Anyway I’d best get to court. Let me know when he’s safely home. I’ll come round tomorrow and try to smooth things over. I don’t want him thinking I’ve abandoned him.”

“He likes you. We can all tell.”

“I hope so.” Mrs Seeger smiled. “See you tomorrow.”

“See ya,” said Harold, returning to his form. “Oh, and Harmony. Good luck in court.”

Monday, 27 March 2017

Dragonsong - Where it all started

This is Dragonsong. The book that, for me, started it all.

I was on holiday in Llangollen, because that's where I spent all my childhood holidays, but this one was more exotic because we were also going to spend a few days by the sea in Prestatyn. We stopped off to see my Grandparents on the way, and Grandma gave me three books. Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums.

She explained to me that there were dragons and that they breathed fire to burn an evil thread that fell from the sky and destroyed everything, and that they were ridden by dragon riders who communicated with them telepathically. She thought I'd like these books particularly because the main character was a girl who was extremely musical, and over the three books she got to go and study at the harper hall.

She was right. I started reading for the music angle and then stayed for the dragons. Then my grandma gave me other books in the series (which I'd later found out she'd gotten from my uncle and auntie), and then I was hooked and bought myself the other books.

And that's how my love of dragons started. To the point where my best friend at sixth form made me this amazing masterpiece to put on my wall when I went to uni...


Isn't it amazing? It's Ramoth, a queen dragon (all queen dragons are gold in the Pern novels) from the same era as Dragonsong.

If the idea of a golden queen sounds familiar, then yes, you're right. As a tribute to Anne McCaffrey, in Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, all the female dragons are either golden or green, as they are in Pern (I had to invent a different shade of Green for Cecil so that he could be a boy!)


Friday, 24 March 2017

Who should narrate the audiobook for Aaron Gray and the Dragon War?

I love answering questions! There's actually a question thing on my Goodreads Author Page, but nobody's found that yet!

Anyway, a friend on facebook asked me this question:






I think this is a question that any author daydreams about (unless, of course, they already have an audio book!). I admit I do think about it often. The narrator would have to be somebody quintessentially English, but who is also no stranger to silliness. Somebody who could build up the drama of the scary and dangerous bits, but also have fun with the lighter parts. They would also need to do a whole load of different character voices, not all of them human.

With this in mind then, how about these four for contenders?

Alexander Armstrong



Victoria Coren Mitchell


Tony Robinson



Sue Perkins




Anyone else I've missed?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Monday, 20 March 2017

Residential Childcare: How the adults care for the kids

A lot of early commenters for Aaron Gray and the Dragon War asked about the freedom Aaron seemed to have in his residential care home. Particularly this passage:
"Aaron only had about ten seconds to get away before the staff at the home found out what he'd done. He headed for the front door as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself and sprinted down the driveway into the street. It was cold and drizzly. Hopefully the staff would be slow to come looking for him in the rain." 

Their argument was that it shouldn't be that easy. Why didn't the care home staff lock the doors to keep the kids from leaving? Why didn't they have an alarm on the door and then chase down the driveway after him? Why didn't his social worker immediately raise the alarm? Doesn't she know better?

 The answer is that children's care homes aren't that simple. Locking the door would make it less of a home and more of a prison or institution, and yes, sometimes that creates an element of risk.

As for whether Aaron has too much freedom generally, please do read this amazing article in Community Care, a website supporting those who work in social care.

The article begins by describing a young man called Keith who, although slightly older than Aaron, displays many of the same characteristics.

"Fifteen-year-old Keith was a physically intimidating kid who had a history of disruptive behaviour and physical violence towards staff and other young people in his previous placements. His risk assessment also reported that he played by his own rules and had no respect for boundaries."
It then goes on to talk about how they cared for Keith, and the answer was not always to discipline him or be harsher with the boundaries. It then talks about other approaches that care workers have used, including giving them cigarettes, even where the boundaries state that they shouldn't be smoking.
"I’ve followed kids with a colleague and seen them approach strangers asking for a cigarette, or observed them picking up nubs in the street and smoking them. In such circumstances I’ve witnessed staff who smoke give the kid a cigarette, while emphasising the dangers of approaching members of the public. This might strike some staff as an easy option but I beg to differ. It’s a judgement call and the right one. Rules are in place because they are necessary, but they don’t always allow for common sense to be applied when dealing with a troubled and upset kid."
This barely scratches the surface of the approaches that children's homes take to make sure that children grow up safely and have a future. Sometimes the solutions aren't ideal, but things aren't always as clear-cut as you may think.


Friday, 17 March 2017

More Goodreads Reviews

I've had another couple of 5 star reviews on Goodreads. This time from the Dunlop family :)


Alex said:
"Got to the end and wanted to find out what happened next, always a sign of a good book."
Jennifer also reviewed it on Amazon:


"Excellent story. Looking forward to the next one! Great for fans of well written fantasy. Not sure yet if I will let my sensitive 8 year old read it quite yet as there is one bit that may be scary/upsetting."

Lots of people have asked me whether there's a sequel, and yes there will be, hopefully towards the end of next year. The scary bit mentioned in the amazon review is a part where they're in a desert and bad things happen. I completely agree that if you have a sensitive child then they may find this bit upsetting (although it does have a happy ending!).

In terms of scariness, I keep telling people it's scarier than Prisoner of Azkaban, but not as scary as Goblet of Fire.

Thanks again everyone for your nice messages. More coming in the next few weeks as I collate what I've got!

David

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The second misadventures of Hilary Hobgoblin

Today, Hilary Hobobglin is starting his second adventure. I've told him to go and see Cecil the dragon at the Abbey, who in all likeliness will tell him about Aaron and Julia's quest. Do check it out at Brevenynews!!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Book Recommendation - How to Train Your Dragon

It shouldn't have taken me this long to recommend "How To Train Your Dragon", the amazing book (and the beginning of a series of stories) by Cressida Cowell.

Okay, I know you've all probably heard of this book already. I mean there's been movies and a Netflix spinoff, but the book is awesome in its own right, and deserves its own mention.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a young Viking who isn't very good at all the heroic and bloodthirsty stuff that Vikings are famous for. He prefers to think things through and study, neither of which are particularly vikingish traits.

Because of this, Hiccup has a different approach to dragons. While the other Vikings try and subdue dragons by shouting at them and being generally unpleasant to the beasts, Hiccup learns their language, talks to them and soon becomes an expert in all things dragon. The other vikings think he's ridiculous until a dragon arrives that they are simply unable to bully.

Go read it! You can buy it by clicking on the picture or this link here!


Friday, 10 March 2017

The first ever Breveny Cosplay!

Okay so I'm giddily excited about this!

As you may know, Thursday 2nd March was World Book Day, and many schools celebrated by letting their children dress up as their favourite book characters. Ciara, a teaching assistant at a Coventry school, decided to go as a dragon from Aaron Gray and the Dragon War!




Thank you, Ciara, especially for the free advertising on the dragon wings!

If anybody else decides to dress up as one of my characters, or draw/make something related to my book, then I would absolutely love to see it! You really would make my day!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A story about dragon dung

A very short story this week. It takes place before the events of Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, and introduces one of the characters. Alec the keythong.

The problem with keeping a dragon in one place, thought Alec, was the pile of dragon dung that grew very quickly. At least Cecil had agreed to go to the toilet in the nearby field, rather than in the Abbey itself, but still, the vinegar smell was getting annoying. 
Alec was a keythong. Some piskies had once called him “half eagle, half lion”, but since he didn’t know what either of those creatures were, he’d have to take their word for it. He was also in charge of looking after Cecil, a dragon that had been banished in The Dragon War. 
“Should have pretended to take a side,” muttered Alec to himself. “Still, there are worse places to live.”  
Alec looked around at the green hills surrounding him, and the old ruined Abbey that was now his home. He allowed himself an uncharacteristic smile. It was nice here. Peaceful. Best of all, nobody ever visited. Perfect. 
He sniffed. Well, there was still the dragon dung to deal with. It wasn't going to do anyone much good in that field.

Monday, 6 March 2017

A disturbing new trend...



First of all... have you seen the new Doritos advert? It's got a cute baby dragon in it.


It's quite an accurate dragon in most cases, I mean it...
  • Is obviously intelligent
  • Communicates with humans (although we don't hear it talk it could still be telepathic)
  • Breathes fire
  • Burns down pretty much everything it comes into contact with.
But I do have one, serious question...

Why, oh why, is it furry?

I know who I'm going to blame, and it's not Doritos. A couple of years ago, the director of the "Pete's Dragon" remake somebody else decided to add to a dragon's cuteness factor by giving it fur...


...and I admit, it's a beautiful creature. The film’s director, David Lowery gave this reason for the change (emphasis mine).
“The very first hook I had for myself when I was going in to meet the producers on this film about the story–we didn’t have a pitch yet or anything–but I wanted the dragon to be furry. And that’s because I love my cats, and I was probably with my cat thinking, ‘I wish this guy was 20 feet tall.’ I was like, ‘Look, if you put a Game of Thrones dragon in this, it would be scaly and cold and it would be cool, but I want this to be the kind of dragon who you really want to give a hug to and that I want to give a hug to and snuggle up with.’ The best way to do that was to make him furry, and there’s no reason why dragons can’t be furry.
Well here's a reason for you, Mr Director Man, Fur is flammable! It's fine for that cute and cuddly stuff, but as soon as you put your dragon around other dragons, you're going to smell burning fur extremely quickly.

This also explains why eastern dragons, that don't breathe fire, occasionally have hair...



but why western, fire-breathing dragons, do not.

So, for the record. The dragons in "Aaron Gray and the Dragon War" are definitely not furry.



Friday, 3 March 2017

Book Launch Photos!

On Wednesday 1st March we held a book launch for "Aaron Gray and the Dragon War" as Coffee Tots cafe in Coventry City Centre.


 Loads of people showed up and it was a really great night!

Those who came to the launch were able to buy the "limited edition" cover from the first ever print run. We were all sold out by the end of the evening.
We had a treasure chest full of "Griffin Treasure", which people could win in various quiz rounds, and everyone who came got a free bookmark.
But my favourite food were these little mini book cupcakes that my wife made especially for the occasion.
And also Declan's amazing dragon colouring.


Thank You to everybody who came. It was really good to see you all! There are loads more pictures on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/Breveny/

Monday, 27 February 2017

Harry Potter Headcanon - Save the dragons!

Have you ever wondered why in so many stories (The Hobbit, Merlin, The Flight of Dragons, Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, Dragons of Pern) the dragons can talk, but in Harry Potter they are nothing but dumb and vicious animals? Well I have a theory.

First of all, let's look at the way that dragons are controlled in Harry Potter. We can start in the most obvious place, the first challenge in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Consider this letter to Harry from Sirius Black.

“Dear Harry, Congratulations on getting past the Horntail. Whoever put your name in that goblet shouldn't be feeling too happy right now! I was going to suggest a Conjunctivitus Curse, as a dragon's eyes are its weakest point - 'That's what Krum did!' Hermione whispered - 'but your way was better, I'm impressed.'"
(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 23)

The most common response to a dragon, even when you want to steal its eggs, is apparently to use a conjunctivitus curse. Sirius suggested it and Krum attempted it.

And then how about this passage from Deathly Hallows?

“A gigantic dragon was tethered to the ground in front of them, barring access to four or five of the deepest vaults in the place. The beast's scales had turned pale and flaky during its long incarceration under the ground, its eyes were milkily pink; both rear legs bore heavy cuffs from which chains led to enormous pegs driven deep into the rocky floor. Its great spiked wings, folded close to its body, would have filled the chamber if it spread them, and when it turned its ugly head toward them, it roared with a noise that made the rock tremble, opened its mouth, and spat a jet of fire that sent them running back up the passageway.
'It is partially blind," panted Griphook, "but even more savage for that. However, we have the means to control it. It has learned what to expect when the Clankers come. Give them to me.'”
(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 26.)
Again, the poor dragon is being controlled by blinding it. Spare a thought for the poor dragon.


via GIPHY

Now if you've been paying attention to previous blogs then you'll know that dragons eyes have hypnotic properties and that there's a prevailing view that they use the same hypnotic powers in order to communicate. In other words, they use eye contact to communicate.

So what if every time a wizard blinds a dragon, he or she is taking away the means that dragon has to communicate?  What if every conjunctivitis curse takes away a little bit more of each dragon’s ability to share its knowledge and intelligence with the world?  What if the practice of blinding dragons is now so commonplace that the secret of the dragons’ intelligence is all but forgotten in the wizarding world?

I think we've stumbled onto a great injustice in the wizarding world.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Thank you Llanblogger!

Just to complete my unintentional "Wales Week", I'm pleased to say that my book and I both got a mention in popular North Wales blog, Llanblogger!

I have been an avid reader of Llanblogger for many many years. I used to spend a lot of time in Llangollen, but I don't get to go there as often as I'd like. Reading Llanblogger makes me feel like I'm still part of the town and the community, and means I know what to look out for on the rare occasions I get to return.

My favourite articles from the last year or so have been...

The ongoing saga over the new supermarket (the town was divided on whether it was good for the economy, Sainsbury's built it and then pulled out leaving a fully built "ghost" supermarket, and then it got bought by Aldi)


The latest Eisteddfod News (No, seriously, Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is the musical event of any year with a long and distinguished history. It's truly amazing!


And now.. my book!





Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Real Life Places - Valle Crucis Abbey

Most of the fantasy places in my book are completely made up, but there is one place (in fact it's the very first place that they visit when they arrive in Breveny), that lives firmly in my memory. St Jadis's Abbey, or Valle Crucis Abbey as it's known in real life.

I spent pretty much every holiday of my childhood in the same caravan site, just outside Llangollen in North Wales. The site surrounds an ancient abbey, dating back to 1201. I visited this abbey so many times in my childhood that I can picture every stone. Oh, and I fell in the pond once too.

So here's bits of my story, accompanied by images of the abbey. Images are all from  www.llangollen.com


"Behind Aaron and Julia was an ancient church. Grass and mud covered the floor and there was no roof over what once must have been the main room. Most of the church walls remained intact but seemed to have been made from whatever stones had been lying around at the time, stuck together by a strange muddy concrete." 

"A group of five small flying creatures, about the same size as dragonflies, were flying around a well that was close to the main entrance, their wings glistening in the sunlight. Aaron could hear water flowing nearby, probably from the river that he'd seen while he was plummeting to the ground."

"The keythong led them past the well, around the outside of the abbey, and past an old ruined bathroom.
"So what about you, Kid? Any dreams about keythongs you want to share?"
 "Not keythongs, no," said Aaron, "but I do dream of..."
Aaron's voice trailed off as he saw what was in front of him. The keythong had stopped by a small pond, on the side of which was what appeared to be a large green statue of a winged monster, barely visible through a thick, smokey fog."

More information about the abbey, including more pictures, can be found at their website.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Welsh Dragon

It's Saint David's Day on 1st March, and since I'll be busy on that day launching a novel, I thought I'd get in early and talk about what is easily the most famous dragon in the UK.

Yep. The Welsh Dragon. It's officially called Y Ddraig Goch, but since that just means "The Red Dragon" I wouldn't worry about it too much.

...It Hasn't Been On The Welsh Flag For Very Long


The dragon was only made the official Welsh flag in 1959. Before that, there was this flag, known as the flag of St David, which is a lot more boring. 


...But Red Dragons Have Represented Wales For Much Longer.


The Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons) dates back to about 800 BC and describes England and Wales as white and red serpents struggling under the ground. This later turned into an Arthurian legend, which went something like this...

A long time ago in Britain, there was a king called Lludd and a red dragon. The red dragon was constantly fighting a white dragon, that invaded from another town. The red dragon would shriek in pain, and it was such a horrid noise that it caused plants, animals, and even unborn babies to die. Lludd, after asking advice from his wiser brother, dug a deep pit in the middle of Britain and filled it with mead. Both dragons dived into it, drank the mead and fell asleep, allowing Lludd to capture them and imprison them at Dinas Emrys in North Wales.

And this is the good bit with Merlin in it....

Hundreds of years later, King Vortigern wanted to build a castle at Dinas Emrys. But every night, whatever he built was "demolished by unseen forces". His advisors tell him that if he finds a boy with no natural father, and sacrifices him on the site of the castle, then the castle would then stand. The king finds such a boy, who turns out to be Merlin. Merlin tells him about the two dragons and the king releases them. This time the red dragon kills the white dragon, and it's all good,

But then... 

Merlin tells Vortigern that the white dragon is symbolic of the invading Saxons, and that the red dragon is symbolic of Vortigern's people, who would later become the Welsh. 


There's more about Owain Glyndwr and how his banner was the Golden Dragon, which he used when he fought the English in battle, but I'm going to save him for another time.  Suffice to say, that eventually, the dragon ended up on the Welsh flag!


Friday, 17 February 2017

More of your nice messages

As with previous Fridays I'm going to include some nice messages/reviews that I've read and liked in the week. This week I have selected a few comments from early reviewers (Yep, I've got a ton of these!).
"The scene with Alec eating was fairly gross!" (I'm taking this as a compliment!)
"A classic fantasy, written, too, with great skill, a perfect voice, and a narrative that keeps us informed and entertained."
"It was cute how you played off of the idea of typical fantasies."
"I like your writing style. Straightforward and simple, but entertaining to read."
"The Piskies' riddle and rhyme is adorable and well written." 
"Brilliant piskie riddle. Did you create that yourself? Highly imaginative."
"You're good at humour!"
"Excellent writing in every chapter"
"It's a good page turner."
"I read the first three chapters to my 8 year old son. He's hyperactive but would have stayed to hear more only my voice was giving up. I had to promise to read him some more later. I found it easy to read out loud and I love fantasy and dragons so I enjoyed the story too."
My favourite comment this week is definitely the last one! Love the idea of a hyperactive eight-year-old sitting down with mum to listen to a book that's technically aimed at older children :)

Thank you to everyone who has said nice things so far. I'll try to include all your messages in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

New book cover!

You may have noticed a slight change in theme across the various sites recently.

This is because, after a very limited print run of the first cover...


The book will turn blue, and will look like this...



This is for lots of reasons, including changing printers and the potential to use the theme of the cover for future books, but the main reason is because it looks so much better than the old one!




Monday, 13 February 2017

Farewell Kilgharrah



This has been my first chance to sit down and post since the sad death of John Hurt was announced.

Despite his many many amazing film roles, my facebook feed was full of people paying tribute to "The War Doctor" in the Doctor Who anniversary special. To be honest I'll probably remember him most for his voice actor work as the Owl in The Gruffalo, but my absolute fave role he played was Kilgharrah the dragon in the BBC drama, Merlin.


To my mind, this dragon is everything a dragon should be. He could never be tamed, believed he knew better than everyone else (and mostly he was right), he communicated telepathically with Merlin, and was an awesome force of destruction when he was angry. He was proud of his magic and his traditions. I can't fault him, although admittedly in the frozen screenshot above he looks like he's a character from the muppets.

Farewell Kilgharrah and Farewell John Hurt. You will both be missed.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Fan video!


Usually, on a Friday I post some of your nice messages. This week I have a video! This is Beth, she's probably read my book the most times out of everyone (apart from me!) and decided to talk about it as part of her quest to do a video every day in February.  She also reads an extract from Chapter One. Look out for the fun voices and facial expressions.

Note: This video is external to Breveny and therefore I have no control over its content. I'd probably rate it PG as there's mild swearing in the first few seconds, but don't take my word for it.

Thanks, Beth, for all the nice things you say!

David

Monday, 6 February 2017

Why Dragons Exist Worldwide

Last week I shared a theory from a book called "Dragons Or Dinosaurs", which argued that, since all cultures have a dragon legend, it probably means that dragons really existed.  In the interest of fairness, this week I'm sharing a theory from smithsonian.com, who offer some more scientific (and possibly more likely) reasons for our shared dragon stories.

1) They found some old dinosaur fossils and made up a scary creature.


This is a fossilised stegosaurus from a museum in Frankfurt - It's easily possible that somebody saw all or part of a dinosaur skeleton, looked at it, and imagined a creature like a dragon. We also know that this definitely happened occasionally, as Chinese historian Chang Qu claimed to have found dragon bones over 2,000 years ago.

This would also explain why, although dragons look a bit similar across the world, the stories about their abilities are quite different. Chinese dragons, for example, can control the weather but not breathe fire.

2) What about Whale Bones?


These are the whale bones that are replacing Dippy at the Natural History Museum still sad about that, see this earlier blog). Whale skeletons have been found on land (and even up mountains) across the world due to changes in land mass. It's not too much of a stretch of the imagination too imagine people encountering these bones thousands of years ago and thinking that there were some kind of ferocious beast.


3) A mixture of scary creatures

What if there were a mixture of creatures across the world? For example the Nile Crocodile can grow up to 18 feet and can lift its head high up off the floor.



And the Australian Goanna has sharp teeth and claws, and can shoot venom out of their mouths. 



4) The Human Brain

In his book "An Instinct for Dragons", anthropologist David E. Jones argues that humans have fear of some animals wired into their brain. The idea being if we're automatically scared of snakes, birds and other predatory creatures then we are less likely to go and do something stupid and get killed by them.  Jones argues that we've combined all these creatures into one big scary supercreature, and that's why we've all invented dragons!