Some choices are hard to live with.
But some choices will kill you.
When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to the pulsing energy that surrounds him. Unaware that he is a shapeshifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June.
Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, punishable by death, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.
Thank you, Mrs.Von Lowenkraft
Hi, Cremona - thank you for having me over on your blog today!
What it is with this fascination for forbidden love that it appears almost all of us have it?
I think what makes forbidden love so fascinating is that we don’t know the outcome. It could all work out, in which case there is a huge satisfaction in seeing love conquer all, but it could also just as easily not work out, in which case we feel devastated and cry for the potential love that will never exist. In works of fiction, and unfortunately sometimes in real life too, the stakes are often high when it comes to forbidden love. One or both of the pair could lose their social standing, be cast out of their family or even be killed because of it. As much as I like dealing with these issues as a writer, I deplore the same issue in the real world. I personally believe in freedom for people to choose, and I support love in whatever form it takes!
Why did you choose a dragon from so many fantastical creatures?
Hmm... good question! I have loved dragons since I was a kid, but I became even more fascinated with them after living a few years in Asia. I loved all the lore around them, both our Western winged dragons, and the various ones I encountered in Asia - but it wasn’t so much the lore and tales about dragons that made me choose them for my story. What I really liked was the passion and emotion I felt they embodied, coupled with their deep animal instincts that I find very appealing. I do think that there are other shifters that have many of those same qualities (weres etc.) but my personal taste runs to dragons and I enjoyed being able to play with their different cultural manifestations. In my world there are three kinds of dragons: the Air Dragon, essentially like our large winged Western dragon; the Water Dragon, essentially the wingless, serpent-like Chinese dragon; and the Fire Dragon, something in between - although a bit similar to some of the dragon images common in Burma.
Usually dragons are connected with fire. Why did you choose the Arctic Circle for your story?
I fell in love with the Arctic when I was 16 and first went to Norway. There was a power in the land, a majesty and presence to the treeless mountains and a deep peacefulness to the snow and ice that fascinated me. It was one of the few times I really, truly fell in love with a place. The other, albeit completely different, place that I had the same reaction to was Tibet. So when I was building my world, it just felt natural that a story where many of my characters could feel the land and be able to manipulate matter would be based somewhere where I had felt the land as a force to be reckoned with. Most of the story takes place in Arctic, with its dramatic changes in light and the constant reminder of the power of nature, but a part of the story also takes place in Tibet, where I have given the dragons of Rakan’s family their home on the wind swept plateau of Ngari
How do you combine the dragon and human world? And how important is to do it in a believable way?
No matter what world you are building as an author, it is essential that it be believable - otherwise the story isn’t grounded and the plot is just a device to move the action forward. I didn’t build my dragon world as something separate from the human, even if the humans and dragons are separate at the opening of DRAGON FIRE. Instead I imagined how dragons could have been among us for thousands of years - at times causing catastrophes and at times slipping by unnoticed. I have always tried to keep the shapeshifting dragon world as a plausible element of our real world - because, really, wouldn’t it be great to discover it was true?
Your “key to developing characters is to figure out what they would be willing to die for. And then pushing them to that limit”. So what limit should that be? What is worth dying for?
I think that the limit for each person/character is different. For some it is an ideal vision of ‘Justice’ or ‘Truth’ or ‘Freedom’. For others it is very concrete: ‘my child’ or ‘my love’ or ‘my countrymen’ or even ‘my species’. But what I find interesting in pushing my characters to their limit is to see what they would give up for someone or something else since it reveals so much about their inner character. One character may be willing to give his/her life for peace. While another character won’t give their life up for anything, preferring instead to let others die. I think it is a question that only conflict coupled with personal stakes can really bring out. If there is no sacrifice involved in the choice/doing what’s right, the choice is easy but the story isn’t very compelling... so by making the choices a character faces personally difficult, the reader will be more likely to care about what happens next. Just like in your question about forbidden love: isn’t it more compelling to read about two people who shouldn’t be together, and may even die for their love, than two people who have no obstacles to their union?
About the author:
Born in the US, Dina von Lowenkraft has lived on 4 continents, worked as a graphic artist for television and as a consultant in the fashion industry. Somewhere between New York and Paris she picked up an MBA and a black belt. Dina is currently the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children and three horses.