Less than a week ago, notable Aussie author / illustrator and prodigious writer for children, Rebecca Lim, release her latest action-packed middle grade series, Children of the Dragon. Book One: The Relic of the Blue Dragon promises magic, mystery and martial arts and I know for one already has young primary aged readers perched avidly on the edge of their seats.
Hang onto to your bronze daggers as you are in for ‘a riveting, mythic Bronze Age adventure’ – we have the remarkable Wendy Orr at the draft table today, escorting us on her Blog Tour for her stunning new novel, Dragonfly Song. And like all terrific stories, there is usually an even more fascinating story behind it; how it came to light, what energies and events conspired to motivate its first heartbeat. Today, Wendy shares her inspiration with us.
Welcome Wendy! Tell us, what was the inspiration for Dragonfly Song?
Sometimes it’s easy to see where an idea’s inspiration has come from. Sometimes it’s not – and sometimes some of the things that inspire it don’t end up in the story. Dragonfly Song is one of those mysteries.
Certainly one thread comes from childhood and teenage reading of Greek myths and Mary Renault’s retelling of the Theseus myth, The King Must Die. (There are many stories about Theseus, a king of Athens with a typically complicated hero life. However he is best known for being one of seven youths and seven maidens sent as a tribute to King Minos of Crete. Minos sent them into a labyrinth to be devoured by the half-man, half-bull monster, the Minotaur – but luckily, Theseus defeated the Minotaur instead of being eaten.)
Then, about twenty-five years ago, I dreamed about a white robed priestess leading a long torchlight procession up a steep green volcanic mountain. As a story grew around the dream, I started reading up on the intriging civilization that flourished in Crete around four thousand years ago. The Minoans seem to have worshipped a mother goddess and been ruled by a priestess until they were taken over by the warlike Mycenaeans of mainland Greece. Their palaces had grand courtyards and stairways, flushing toilets, lightwells, and painted frescoes on walls, ceilings and floors. They had beautiful art, gold and jewellery; images of priestesses holding snakes and of young men and women leaping over the backs of giant bulls. What if these bull-leaping games had inspired the original myth of Theseus?
Although the rather melodramatic novel I wrote then was, luckily, never published, the images of that world never left me. Eventually I started playing with the idea of a completely new story set in the same era.
It started to take shape on a 2010 visit to New Delhi. Culture shock can be a great inspiration: new sounds and smells; beautiful buildings and overwhelming poverty. Home again, doodling with a fingerpaint app, I sketched a girl with a sad twisted mouth and tangled black curls. This wasn’t the direction I’d expected, but one evening in my tai chi class, the form of the story appeared in a luminescent blue bubble – and no, I can’t explain it exactly what I mean by that, but it was powerful enough to bring me to tears. The next day I saw a dragonfly, the exact same colour as the bubble.
And dragonflies kept on appearing whenever I made a significant decision or saw something that helped to shape the story: finding an offcut of chipped flint on a Danish island; visiting the mysterious deep blue source of a French river that would have seemed even more mysterious and holy in ancient times…
Ah the synchronicity of life…Thank you, Wendy!
Allen & Uwin June 2016
From first time author, Kaylene Hobson, who has sweetly dedicated this book to her own sons, is the wonderfully imaginative tale, Isaac’s Dragon. Including gorgeous pictures by Ann-Marie Finn, author / illustrator of books including A Trip to the Moon and Captain Kieron.
An extraordinary young boy, Isaac, is introduced to us as a dragon fanatic who spends every possible moment dreaming of owning one for himself. He has difficulty concentrating at home and at school. But if only other people would understand why… he’s hatching a plan to find his dragon, of course!
Every night he visits his pet dragon in his dreams where they are free to fly over the land, but only to be disappointed to wake up and realise his dragon is not there.
With studious research, skills practise and a brilliant plan, Isaac is a very determined boy and is certain that he will have his dragon by his upcoming birthday. Confronting the unknown and other magical creatures, remembering valuable parental lessons on manners and compliments, and making negotiations with his little brother, Isaac finally has his dreams realised. But the pet dragon he had longed for didn’t exactly live up to all of his expectations.
Isaac’s Dragon is an endearing book that addresses real life concepts beautifully. Kaylene Hobson’s main purpose successfully manifests in every part of the story, ”… they (the reader) should also feel a connection with the character – and experience happiness, sadness, joy and disappointment along with Isaac.” Her own voice is evident, too; the one of the loving, caring and compassionate mother.
Children will relish the power of imagination, and getting lost in Isaac’s mythical world, while they attempt to determine between fantasy and reality. Isaac’s Dragon is a delightfully told, timeless tale of suspense and adventure over eleven chapters. With adorable sketches by talented Ann-Marie Finn throughout, both boys and girls from ages four to ten will enjoy this creative, engaging and insightful story. Looking forward to more excitement in the second installment of Isaac’s Dragon!
Read about the story behind the story in a fascinating author profile of Kaylene Hobson to follow.
Title: Isaac’s Dragon
Author: Kaylene Hobson
Illustrator: Ann-Marie Finn
Publisher: Dragon Tales Publishing