By Deborah Cooke
People often ask me why I write about dragon shapeshifters. Why not other kinds of shapeshifters? they ask. Why not vampires?
Why NOT dragons? I can’t think of another creature more fascinating. I like how dragons look. I like how ferocious and protective they are. I like to imagine them fighting each other, maybe in a night sky filled with stars. I love that they are fond of solving riddles – dragons aren’t fools, usually – and that they are known to be particularly perceptive. I think it’s amazing that they breathe flames, and yet, it’s awesome that they can fly.
I read THE LORD OF THE RINGS repeatedly as a teenager – “obsessively” might be a better choice of word – and one of the characters who most intrigued me was Smaug. Smaug was the only reason I read THE HOBBIT at all, and the pages that feature that dragon were the most worn ones in my copy. I doodled Smaug on my notebooks. I loved the Tolkien calendars illustrated by the Brothers Hildebrandt - when Smaug was the illustration of the month, the page tended to not be turned on time. So, you could say that Smaug started me on a journey, hunting dragon lore and reading stories about dragons wherever I could find them.
There are lots of stories about dragons and I’ve always liked that they had such extensive roots in mythology. We humans have been talking about dragons for a long time. I can imagine that that’s because we’ve known actual dragons, that they’ve been amongst us before and now they’re just a bit more reticent. Maybe they’re dragon shapeshifters, and they mingle with us in human form, while we remain unaware of their secret lives. The idea of a secret world of dragon shapeshifters is behind my Dragonfire series of paranormal romances.
In my Dragonfire world, there is only ever one female dragon shapeshifter. She’s called the Wyvern and has special powers – besides being enigmatic and elusive. The Dragon Diaries evolved organically as a separate YA series when I realized that the little girl who was rumoured to be the new Wyvern would have to come into her powers one day, and that day would come when she was a teenager. This June will bring Zoë Sorensson and the first book on her journey to mastering her dragon and Wyvern powers with FLYING BLIND. I’m really enjoying this series, maybe because I often dreamed of becoming a dragon myself when I was a teenager – one who could match wits or compete in flame-throwing contests with my hero Smaug.
Or just fly through a midnight sky. Like Zoë, I would have yearned to become mysterious, and to be able to see the future (as the Wyvern is supposed to be able to do.) And like Zoë, I probably would have kept the current update of my Incinerate Now list at the tips of my talons.
If you could be any creature – mythical or real – what would you choose to be? Why?
Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke releases June 7, 2011