Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guest Post: Thank God that Dragon was Dead – Megan Derr & "Dracones"

So, once upon a time in college, I started poking quietly at writing for a year or so, mostly fanfic and original stuff that never saw the light of day, but I never expected to pursue writing seriously. Then a friend talked me into using an elective slot to take a Creative Writing 101 class with her, because if she was going to be abused by her peers, damn it, someone was going to suffer with her. :3

Kyo & Kin from Treasure
The first round of story/review was supposed to be anon, but the professor messed up photocopying the batch of stories that had mine in it, so amusingly, the whole class was spent saying 'the author' when we all knew who was being discussed. It was a fun class, and I learned a lot (not the least of which was how to take criticism, no matter how harsh).

My story for that round was about a knight and ex-priest hunting for a dragon (Samantha is probably the only person who remembers this story). They go through this whole broken, falling-down temple all the way to a cave in the back... and discover the dragon had been killed by falling rock decades ago. My professor's first comment when the review started was basically, "I just have to say, I was extremely relieved the dragon was dead. I was dreading a fight scene. Those are tricky, and I was just not looking forward to it, and then the dragon was dead, and that was great."

I laughed so hard that if it had not been clear already who wrote the story, it would have been obvious then. I straight up said I was not up to writing that kind of scene, and I thought it would more interesting anyway. There was a lot of other helpful stuff said during that session that sticks with me to this day (your dialogue needs work for this and this reason. You describe how things look, and even feel, but how does it all smell?).

That poor dead dragon was the first one I ever wrote, and that story was the first time I realized "I could really do this" because the story was bad (it was one of my first; of course it was bad), but nobody in that class hated it, and I was like the only fantasy writer in the group. That little dragon, dead though he was, taught me that my ideas are not, in fact, all that awful. That poor dragon I killed before the story even started helped lead me to writing.

Since then, I've written several stories about dragons – involved fantasies of lost dragons, silly fairytales, modern dragons raised for pit fighting, and several others. I like writing anthro type characters, dragons especially, because it's a challenge and a lot of fun to figure out how a non-human creature would think and act, where their priorities are, and how that clashes with the humans around them.

Najlah, from "Lukos Heat", my contribution to Storm Moon Press' Dracones, is definitely one of my favorites so far, just because he's so different from those who surround him. He's built for brutal fighting in a harsh, dry, extremely hot environment, but is currently living in a damp, cold one and not particularly enjoying it. He is constantly frustrated by the 'soft' people around him and the lack of any real purpose, since a quiet palace life has very little in need of killing. A character like Naj is fun to write because his thought processes, his priorities, etc are so drastically different from most—seeing how he reacts, and how others react to him, made this story a hell of a lot of fun to write. I hope it's just as fun to read ;)

What was a blizzard? Najlah growled in irritation. Barkus only frowned at him with incomprehension, so he went to go find Fayth. Thankfully, he was already awake, as were the others, packing up their bedrolls and destroying what little remained of the fire. Najlah growled at him, clawing impatiently at the snow.

Smiling faintly, Fayth said, "A blizzard is a sandstorm of snow. Here, let me increase the strength of your warming stone." Reaching out as Najlah moved close, he wrapped his hands around the smooth, heavy stone on a thick chain around Najlah's throat.

Heat spread through Najlah, and he rumbled in gratitude. Without the warming stones, dragons could not leave their homeland. Nothing else was capable of sustaining their body temperature at the level they needed. It chafed to have to rely on outside help to survive, but the sands were the sands, and they could not change, only shift. Better to shift with the sands, than to resist them and be buried.

He moved away, to the edge of camp, leaving the others to do as they needed. For himself, he carried nothing. All he needed, he had or could hunt.

"Let's move," Barkus ordered, and everyone in camp shifted except for the bird shifters—which meant Fayth, unfortunately. Grounded by the strong winds and heavily falling snow, they would have to travel and fight the hard way. Najlah would have been happier if Fayth had possessed a stronger shift, but it little mattered in the end because Najlah would see to his safety.

They traveled on, following the wolves, Najlah tasting the air frequently, though it remained infuriatingly difficult to taste more than snow and whatever was immediately before him. Around them, the snow grew increasingly worse, while the wolves grew angry. Najlah growled in surprise when he realized he could taste fear on them as well, underscoring and aggravating the anger. What was alarming them?

"Lukos Heat" can be found with six other gay dragon short stories in Storm Moon Press' Dracones. Now Available!

Megan Derr is a long time resident of m/m fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she's not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies (especially all things James Bond). She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all around the internet, including her website, Tumblr, LiveJournal, and on Twitter @amasour.


  1. I love dragons of all shapes and sizes. Love them as shifters and in their natural form...I especially heart Megan's dragons...all of them...most recently the pit fighting/human bonding dragons, but I love them all. And I absolutely LOVE the pic of Kyo and Kin! And number three...I've got Dracones...cannot wait to start reading it!

  2. I will forever have a soft spot for dragons. The first 'story' I ever wrote, in Kindergarden mind you, featured a dragon innovatively named Rainbow. :3

    The sad part is I still have that story. All seven lines of it! ;)

  3. Okay, I feel bad for the poor dead dragon. LOL

    I'm afraid I've not had time to read all the stories yet, but I did read yours and I loved that it was such a different take on dragon shifters. That Naj was not your typical shape shifter hero physically and beyond. But I liked him a great deal, even if he was a bit whiny about the cold. ;-)

    It's a pleasure to be in the anthology with you.

    1. Only a bit whiny? :3 I think you give him too much credit ;)

      sadly, yours is the only story I've not gotten to. I'm really looking forward to it, though, when I finally catch a break this weekend! <3


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