I love animals. They fascinate me in many different ways. I’m always interested in how diverse our world is. You may ask what this has to do with The Tales of Draco and, particularly, the dragons in the book. The truth is, it has a lot to do with the elements in the book. My fascination of animals has a big influence in The Tales of Draco.
For instance, Jacob Draco’s interest in animals and his life on the farm play a big role in the plot. This is what drives him and Clipper to begin their major experiment in Rise of the Dragon. As dragons, they discover their own natural gifts such as using their claws, charging with their horns, or breathing fire among many other things.
So are dragons in The Tales of Draco technically animals? You could say so, in a way as if you classify humans as mammals. Marissa Durfee, my sister and main illustrator, once said that dragons are human, just a different type of human.
We humans have our own knowledge of good and evil, so do dragons. But when you look closer, animals are more like us in many ways. Animals bleed, think, feel, and hurt just like humans do. I’m not saying that I’m against rightful hunting or the use of animals for farming. I’m saying that we should acknowledge their existence. Respect to animals can help us respect ourselves.
A supporting character who was Jacob’s best friend and another dragon was something I thought would help the story a lot.
As I was plotting out Rise of the Dragon, I obviously wanted a faithful protagonist. Who doesn’t? But even when the novel was still in its infant stages, I already wanted a supporting character. I thought the story with Jacob by himself would be somewhat interesting, though I didn’t think it was enough. A supporting character who was Jacob’s best friend and fellow dragon was something I thought would help the story a lot. I didn’t want Jacob to be all alone. This is where Clipper’s role comes from. Another thing that I wanted Clipper to do is to be more than just a side character. I wanted him to have a major roll (just not as big as Jacob’s).
Creating supporting characters can be a little tricky. You don’t want them to be there just for support. All you will have is a supporting element, not a supporting character. At the same time, you want the story to follow your main character. Creating Clipper was slightly difficult for me because of the story’s structure. I wanted one main character, who was Jacob. What I tried to focus on was Clipper’s self-awareness and his personality that is similar but not identical to Jacob. That way Jacob could be more independent as the protagonist. This is why Clipper treats his temper differently from how Jacob does, for example.
After I developed Clipper’s character, I had a lot of fun with him. His dark-red scales and sabered teeth show that he is different from Jacob, but he shares enough traits. Having Clipper as a supporting character who is friends with Jacob felt so much better than having Jacob go about his adventures alone. And it doesn’t end with Clipper. Characters like Chang, Sally, and even Reno also had to be distinct and I had fun with them too.
Creating a character’s personality was very fun for me. I enjoyed creating Clipper’s role as well as Jacob’s and other characters.
There is a reason behind the fact that the protagonist is a dragon.
Being a fantasy novel, it comes to no surprise that dragons are in The Tales of Draco. Many other fantasy novels have dragons as key characters or simply used to support the magical world that we as the reader is not used to experiencing every day. In The Tales of Draco, dragons obviously play a big role. There is a reason behind the fact that the protagonist is a dragon.
Believe it or not, my view on dragons has changed significantly over the years. When I was only a few years old, many movies that my parents would watch that had dragons scared me. Even one of my favorite shows I watched as a child gave me nightmares. But despite the fact that as many times these fantastic creatures frightened me, there were a few television shows that had dragons who did not scare me as much. With that working for me, I eventually overcame my “dracophobia”. Before I knew it, I loved reading about dragons. Both the European and the Asian style of dragons would fascinate me.
When I began thinking of the storyline for Rise of the Dragon and the rest of the series, I tried to think of different ways on how my story could differ from any other fantasy book. This was when I noticed that dragons in fantasy were usually the main antagonist or a secondary character, depending on the book. I had never read a book where a dragon is the main protagonist. With this realization, I asked myself what the life of a dragon is like. What are a dragon’s common thoughts? What are his urges and instincts? I was then thinking about the philosophy of humans overcoming natural instincts. Thus, I decided that dragons in The Tales of Draco were naturally evil, though this evil can be conquered. With this wonder of what a dragon is thinking, this is also why the book is in Jacob’s point of view.
With these reasons, I decided to make Jacob a human who becomes a dragon. That way, Jacob can describe his feelings and thoughts in a way that we as humans understand better. It is not easy overriding a dragon’s instinct. And Jacob may even have to fight against this instinct as an outside force.
In Rise of the Dragon, most of the book takes place in our world. The second earth, Elsov, is not introduced until chapter twelve. And even then, all that is known about this world is that there are fairies, nymphs, grøls, and bleakly explained regions (with the exception of Pearl Forest). If Jacob has many of his thoughts on Elsov after his vision, then why is there little information about this strange world?
One answer to this question is Jacob’s basic understanding of Elsov. When the story is in Jacob’s mind, it also follows his knowledge. After his vision, he knows little about the second earth. As Jacob tells his story, he won’t give anything away about his experiences until they come chronologically.
Another answer comes from the structure of the book. As the series unfolds, more information will be given about Elsov. If I give all the information (including the geography and the inhabitants) at once, then what? My intention for this world is to have its identity unfold as the series progresses. Regions and inhabitants will be revealed later on. In the upcoming sequel in The Tales of Draco, there are many more scenes on Elsov. I also have a map of Elsov that will be revealed in one of the sequels.
The first few books in The Tales of Draco take place in the first earth: our world. The next books, Elsov will play a much bigger role in Jacob’s life.
“This Royal throne of kings,
This scepter’d isle…
This blessed plot,
This earth, this realm,
It seems in our fantastic literature, a European setting is what usually comes into our mind. This is with good reason. When I read fantasy books, I notice that the setting is often comparable to English, Irish, or Norse cultures. I actually quite enjoy this setting. I love reading about knights, castles, dragons, and adventures in lush countrysides. However, like any cliché, this setting can become too redundant in fantasy. The world is much bigger than a continent. I’m not saying that Europe is a bad setting. The Tales of Draco has its fair share of European influence, but I do not intend on having European culture be my only influence. I also love Asian, African, and Native American cultures as well.
So why is the European setting very common in fantasy? The answer comes from Medieval history. Many stories such as Beowulf and The Legend of King Arthur created the path for the fantasy genre to follow. These stories were created in Medieval England, so the setting followed. Even today, many settings take place in Medieval England; and to tell you the truth, the setting could introduce many other painful clichés. Even fictional languages have roots in Europe and before long, these fictional languages start to sound similar to one another.
If you ever plan to write a fantasy story, maybe change things up. Add some Chinese or Middle-eastern cultures. Taking a break from England once in a while may help your story become unique. You could even create a combination of cultures. When other settings are introduced, Europe can once again become the great setting for fantasy as it is and always will be.
Our world and the other world are very different, but can also be very similar.
A fantasy series can have a wide range of settings, from our familiar world in Rick Riordan’s works to the epic, adventurous, and mysterious Middle-Earth in J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. So what is the setting in The Tales of Draco? The obvious answer is our world. Most of Rise of the Dragon takes place in Europe and North America. But what about the world of Elsov? The mystic world of magic and enchanting is also mentioned in Rise of the Dragon. Early in the works of the book, I was deciding to have the entire series take place in our world. Later on, I was thinking about the entire series taking place in Elsov. It turns out I used both settings.
There is honestly no reason for a fantasy/adventure story to be forbidden to be set on our world. There is nothing wrong with having dragons flying over New York City or dwarves using automobiles for convenience. The main reason why most of Rise of the Dragon is set in our world is because I wanted the elements in the book to be comparable to our everyday lives. If you have ever been to any of the cities or countries mentioned in the book, you can envision yourself in a place where a dragon once stood. You yourself live in a fantasy world!
Now think of a magical world like Elsov. It is a place very unfamiliar. When Jacob first learns about the world, he knows so little. Like a world much like ours, there is nothing wrong with a fantasy story set in a place like this. When introduced to a world like Elsov, we envision it as a place completely different from ours. But are they really that different? The landscape on both worlds are very similar. There are living plants and animals. And yes, there is peace and war.
This is the main reason why there are the two different worlds in The Tales of Draco. Our world and the other world are very different, but can also be very similar. When I thought about combining the two settings, I figured how interesting my story could be. It’s a story where we can experience magic and adventure in our world as well as beyond. And even though Elsov only covers few chapters in Rise of the Dragon, more of its secrets will be revealed in upcoming books.
Once again, there is adventure in our world and beyond, this time for different reasons.
If you have read Rise of the Dragon to the ending, you may have noticed that the book ends in a way that the story may continue. I did my best to avoid a cliff-hanger, but I want you as the reader to be excited about the next book. If you do find the ending to be a cliff-hanger, I apologize unless you prefer it to be that way.
There is a good reason why I didn’t want a cliff-hanger at the epilogue. For me, cliff-hangers need to be in the perfect spot in order for them to work. If it is at the end of the book, you are suddenly forced on a branch over the side of the cliff. As I read, I find it does build good intensity for sure, but my arms become tired as I wait for the next book… and so does the the excitement for what happens in the next book.
I’m not saying that cliff-hangers are bad. When I’m reading and I come across a cliff-hanger at the end of a chapter, I really want to read the next. An end of a chapter or section is a better spot to put a cliff-hanger rather than the ending of the book.
…but that is my opinion. If you like cliff-hangers at the end of the book, go ahead and read the intense ending.
So what will happen to Jacob and Clipper after the events in Rise of the Dragon? That is a question that is not yet ready to be answered. However, I will give brief information on the next book. The next tale in the series is going to be called The Tales of Draco: The Six Pieces. Jacob finally discovers a way back to Elsov when he is given unexpected help. Jacob is anxious to return to help Treetop when she was taken by the ogres, find and reunite with his parents if they are still alive, and finally be home. Trying to find the way back, Jacob, Clipper, and their friends run into familiar and unfamiliar enemies alike. The quest back to Elsov is not easy. Also in the highly awaited sequel, Jacob’s true enemy is revealed and he will stop at nothing to educate Jacob that he has a great power not to be underestimated.
Many more questions about the strange world of Elsov will be answered and new creatures will be introduced. Once again, there is adventure in our world and beyond, this time for different reasons. The Six Pieces will not only be another adventure, it will be a new experience.