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, 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!


Friday, 3 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.
"I love [Cecil] the Dragon."
"I adore Katrina. She's a bit sassy but she knows how to get things done."
"I like how you weave in some of the lesser known fantasy elements and pull heavily on mythology, as well as the twists."
"I love the Vampire Sprites"
"You're onto a real winner with this one." 
"Your writing style is marvellous.
"A great pleasure to read."
"It pulled me right into Aaron's troubled mind that made me care about him straight away."
"I think that Aaron's quest for happiness and a sense of belonging will resonate with many young readers."
"Aaron comes alive on the page. And Dragons. You can't go wrong with dragons."
Thank you everyone. It's so especially nice to hear when you like the characters! Thank you to everyone who has said nice things so far. I'll try to include all your messages in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Phone Call

Another new short story set before the start of Aaron Gray and the Dragon War. This one has one of my favourite characters in it. Mrs Seeger.

The Phone Call

Mrs Seeger stared at the casenote on her screen. “Mr Gray (Aaron’s dad) has phoned, please ring him back on…” There was a telephone number.

Could she ignore it? No, that would be unprofessional. But what could he possibly want? Nobody in Children's Social Care had heard from Mr Gray for several years. Not since he’d first abandoned Aaron to the care system.

She'd been Aaron's social worker for a while now and Aaron was one of the more challenging children on her caseload, but he was funny and interesting and she enjoyed their time together. He never talked about his dad, he wasn't willing to deal with all of that mess yet, but Mrs Seeger could tell that Mr Gray meant a lot to Aaron, despite how he'd been treated.

She dialed the number and waited for him to answer.

“Hello, is that Mr Gray? This is Aaron’s social worker. You left a message for me to ring you.”

Good start. No pleasantries. Keep it to the point and find out what the idiot man wants.

“Yes hello. I would like to see my son. Is he available on Saturday?”

Mrs Seeger took a sip from the water on her desk. She often did this when she was trying to hide her anger. How dare he assume he could get back in touch after all this time, and book Aaron for the day as if he were some kind of library book.

“I’m sorry, Mr Gray. We have to consider the emotional impact on Aaron. He hasn’t spoken to you in quite some time. If you want to be a part of his life again then that may be possible but it will be a gradual thing, and we’d need to speak to Aaron and see if that’s what he wants.”

“Of course it is. I’m his father.”

“Yes but Aaron is eleven now and needs to be involved in important decisions in his life. If you do want some kind of contact with Aaron then I’ll talk to him about it, but it's not as simple as you just coming to collect him. You'd have to commit to a number of supervised sessions, we'd see how Aaron gets on and take it from there. It’s not in Aaron’s best interests for you to come into his life and then disappear again.”

“I won't. I want to see him. Let him know for me.” Mr Gray ended the call.

"Thank you for all your help in raising my son for me..." muttered Mrs Seeger, doing her best impression of Mr Gray and bristling at the man's abruptness. Perhaps contact was a bad idea. She'd talk it through with her supervisor and come up with a plan. She was going to have to say something to Aaron. He'd want to know that his dad had been in touch. He wasn't going to take it well though...