"There is humor, suspense, compassion, anger, pain, happiness, joy, love, hate, and so much more in this great fantasy. I felt I was there. There was also fighting, battles, struggles, adventure, and lots of danger to go along with the few pleasant moments. Truly, one great book, going in my favorites! " - Montzalee, Goodreads
Gold Award winner - 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards
Stabbed. Burned by a dragon. Abandoned for the windrocs to pick over. The traitor Ra’aba tried to silence Hualiama forever. But he reckoned without the strength of a dragonet’s paw, and the courage of a girl who refused to die.
Only an extraordinary friendship will save Hualiama’s beloved kingdom of Fra’anior and restore the King to the Onyx Throne. Flicker, the valiant dragonet. Hualiama, a foundling, adopted into the royal family. The power of a friendship which paid the ultimate price.
This is the tale of Hualiama Dragonfriend, and a love which became legend.
Dragonfriend is a YA fantasy novel set in the same world of the bestselling dragon adventure series Shapeshifter Dragons and Shapeshifter Dragon Legends. It can be read in any order alongside Aranya, Shadow Dragon and The Pygmy Dragon. Awesome dragons, epic stories and deep dragon lore abound in this unique series set in a world of volcanic islands above the clouds.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Listen to music, play War Dragons, read or play with the kids. I also love the quietness of the early morning before even the birds get started.
How to find time to write as a parent?
It really is tough at the moment. Mostly, early mornings. I’m often up at 4am and can get 2,000 words written before the kids wake up. Thankfully nowadays I also divide working time with my wife so I get a few mornings until lunchtime to myself to continue writing. When I’m ‘in the zone’ I can write up to 5,000 words per day. That tends to get novels completed pretty fast!
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
There’s an old adage, do what you love. Most of us are unfortunately not able both to do what we love and to make a living from it. I have always wanted to be an author, and wrote several novels during my teens. I love to bring words to life. The reason I know this is the right decision is because breathing life into characters, worlds and tales is what makes me come alive inside.
A day in the life of the author?
Coffee, coffee, coffee … alright. Up at 5am and writing until 6:30am. I write every day while I’m drafting, no breaks, no excuses for lack of inspiration. I produce 1500-3000 words per day, and sometimes, if I’m feeling the creative juices are flowing, I might write through the night. My record is 25,000 words produced in a single night while drafting The Pygmy Dragon.
Most of my days are also broken up with childcare in the afternoon and I work several days as well, so that’s a lot less time for writing on those days.
Advice you would give a new author?
Persevere. Most writers don’t see an instant impact, the one-shot bestsellers of course make the news but those are really much more unusual cases. For me, it took 8 books to see any kind of sales success at all, and much of the work is slow, steady building of books, audience, marketing, and so on. You have to keep working on it.
What are you currently reading?
This week I’m about to dive in to The Feral Sentence by GC Julien. It’s not my usual fare, a compilation of 4 dystopian novellas, but I’m looking forward to delving into it
How long have you been writing? What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
A number of my stories have started with a dream, such as Chaka, Aranya and The Legend of El Shashi. I write down a synopsis of the dream the following day. Similarly, for story ideas, I now write down a synopsis or jot down ideas in mindmap format, exploring related ideas or themes or characters I wish to use. I keep a file of all my ideas for stories and mine it periodically for inspiration.
Nowadays, I do a chapter and scene-by-scene outline for a book, even if it is just a few words per section, to work out the storyline and plot. It also serves to keep my crazier ideas in check. I draw up character sketches and flesh them out using pictures, words, traits, descriptions of what a character might have in their pockets, dialect, physical attributes, etc. I write up a sketch of the world, perhaps draw a map, and think through any physical features or magical systems or anything else that might be needed. For example, for Dragonfriend I researched hydrogen dirigibles and drew up detailed notes on the major three races – humans, dragons and Shapeshifters, which inhabit this world.
Next, I do any research that might be necessary, before maybe writing a test scene or chapter. If I like the feel and the flow of the story, I get stuck into drafting right away, and unleash my characters on my unsuspecting world. I’m not afraid to chop and change the outline during drafting, as the creative process might take or force me in unexpected directions.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Dragonfriend?
There are three main characters, the cheeky dragonet Flicker, Princess Hualiama who was illegally raised by Dragons before being adopted into the royal house of Fra’anior, a kingdom that perches on the rim-wall of a mighty volcano, and the rebellious but noble-hearted Tourmaline Dragon, Grandion.
Part of the tale is told from Flicker’s point of view and gives us sharp or humorous insights into how dragons view humans. Hualiama is a girl who is simply potty about dragons, but she also has a touch of magic herself. She loves to sing and dance her way around problems, and chooses to confront the usurper to the throne, Ra’aba, in a powerful showdown. But her true destiny is a far greater picture that unfolds during the second, third and fourth books of the series.
A bit of both. I usually try to capture the broad brush strokes and maybe a few small habits or peccadillos about the main character before I start writing, but sometimes as the words go down on paper a character can surprise me. I do like them snarky though so have to watch out that my characters don’t all start sounding the same.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
It depends on the themes and characters. Recently I did a lot of research and a few interviews on what it is like to live as a disabled person. I really learned a great deal. My research spanned history for the Shioni of Sheba series to physics, aerodynamics and astrophysics for my Dragonfriend and Shapeshifter Dragons series.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Doing what I love best.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I already had the world built because I had two bestselling books already prepared. I wanted to centre something around the idea of a girl falling in love with a dragon, but not in any nasty or obscene sense. All of their feelings for each other do resolve in what I feel is a wholesome, surprising and ultimately satisfying way.
Flicker popped into my mind fully formed, the one who would inform and amuse the reader, but he also has real depth to him as you’ll discover by the end of Dragonfriend. He was definitely one of my favourite characters to write.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Everything has come together very well – from the cover art to the overall arc of the series. I love the characters and to my mind 4 books is just the right length for serious fantasy fans to sink their dragon-loving fangs into. Will there be more of Hualiama? At least one but probably not as you expect it to be!
About the author:
Marc is a South African-born dragon masquerading as an author, who loves writing about dragons and Africa, preferably both at the same time. He's the author of 23 fantasy books in 3 languages (2 more languages coming this year - watch this space!), including 8 rip-roaring dragon fantasy bestsellers. Dragonfriend won a Gold Award for Fantasy in the 2016 IPPY Book Awards.
When he's not writing about Africa or dragons Marc can be found travelling to remote locations. He thinks there's nothing better than standing on a mountaintop wondering what lies over the next horizon.
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