Now…I’m thrilled today to welcome author Marie Brennan to the blog. Marie is the author of the new book A Natural History of Dragons, and I for one can’t wait to read it. What an awesome idea—as you’ll see from some of the illustrations on this post. It’s one of the most unusual ways to approach a fantasy I’ve seen, and (if you can’t tell) I’m excited about the concept. Read on for a chance to win a copy of the book!
Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to many short stories and novellas, she is also the author of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire (both from Tor Books), as well as Warrior, Witch, Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and Lies and Prophecy. You can find her online at SwanTower.com.
ABOUT A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS: You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day….Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.
Welcome to Preternatura! Give us the “elevator pitch” for your book.
The book and series title pretty much are the elevator pitch! (Which is good, because I’m terrible at coming up with that sort of thing otherwise.)
Describe your favorite scene from the new book–and why is it your favorite?
I don’t want to give spoilers, so I’ll put it in general terms: the cavern scene with Jacob and Iljish. I really like it because it features one of the “shiny ideas” for the book — one of the things I thought up early on, and was looking forward to the whole way. It’s also a moment where Isabella gets to really settle into her element as a researcher, while discovering something awesome, which is satisfying for both her and me.
Favorite book when you were a child.
I’m going to cheat and name the complete works of Diana Wynne Jones. I can’t pick a single favorite — even my top tier of favorites has four or five titles in it — but I deeply loved her work then, and still do now.
Book you’ve faked reading (Moby Dick is leading the votes on this question!):
A collection of essays by Michel Foucault. I was supposed to read it for graduate school, and never even cracked it. (In my defense, the teacher put one person each week in charge of putting together notes on the reading, and the guy who handled the Foucault reader did a really thorough job.)
Book you’re an evangelist for:
Dorothy Dunnett’s historical novel The Game of Kings. It isn’t an easy read; she has a very dense, opaque style of writing, and along with that it takes a really long time to understand her hero. But once you get the hang of reading her style, she’s just bloody brilliant.
Book you’ve bought for the cover:
Joan Vinge’s Snow Queen and Summer Queen. (I actually have prints of both those covers on my walls.) Mind you, I didn’t realize until later that there was a book between them, which I hadn’t read . . . .
Book that changed your life:
Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock. It’s on my list of favorites, but gets a special place because it’s the one that made me decide to become a writer. The two main characters make up a story together, and when I put the book down, I realized that I wanted to tell stories, too.
Favorite book about books or writing:
It’s not your standard kind of advice book, but Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a memoir as much as it is writing tips, but it’s a very honest look at his life and philosophy as an author, and that struck me a lot more than generic advice about stories. (Suzanne: This is definitely the most-listed favorite writing book…including mine!)
Thanks for being here! Isn’t this a cool way to approach a fantasy novel? Now, if you’d like to win a copy of A Natural History of Dragons, you know the routine…just leave a comment. Do you have a favorite dragon story? I’ll cheat a bit by leaving the pure fantasy realm and say Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire…for the dragon challenge.