Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Dragon Book

I'm always a trifle taken aback to see myself described as one of "the masters of modern fantasy"—but I can't say that I really object to finding myself in the company of people like Gregory Maguire and Naomi Novik.

For those looking for something small and different, either as a Christmas gift or as a distraction from looking for Christmas gifts, let me call your attention to THE DRAGON BOOK, recently released. It is, as you probably suspect, an anthology of stories featuring dragons, in one way or another.

I do have to say that I feel somewhat more of an imposter here than I usually do when contributing to a fantasy anthology, insofar as the story with my name on it, "Humane Killer", was written largely by my co-author, Sam Sykes. It is, though, a Really Good—if Really Weird—story ( says, "…some of the weirdest characters that I have ever seen… I quite liked [it], for its surreal feel."

Let me just note for the record that this story has no ties to Jamie, Claire, Lord John Grey, or anybody else you're used to finding in my pages [g]—but I think you won't regret meeting Lenny, the pot-smoking zombie, let alone Sister Madeline:

" Nitz followed the priest’s gaze to his companion. Father Scheitzen’s shadow did not yet extend so far as to engulf Madeline. Nitz doubted there was a man yet who had grown tall enough to do that. She did not cast a shadow, but rose as one, towering and swaddled in the ominous blackness of her nun’s habit, her head so high as to scrape against the torch ensconced in the pillar she stood alongside.

“Maddy,” Nitz caught himself, “Sister Madeline…is not without mercy, no, Father.” He flashed a smile, painfully aware of the stark whiteness of his teeth in the church’s gloom. “After all, she owes her life to the mercy of others. Who but the church would have a…creature such as her?”

Nitz took private pleasure in the shudder Father Scheitzen gave as Madeline stepped forward.

The torchlight was decidedly unsympathetic. All her face was bared, from the manly square curve of her jaw, to the jagged scar running down her cheek, to the milky discolored eye set in the right half of her skull and the grim darkness in her left. The jagged yellow of her smile-bared teeth was nothing more than a sigh, a comma at the end of the cruel joke that was a woman’s visage.

“Ah, a Scarred Sister. I suspect you may have inadvertently stumbled upon a solution to a problem that has long plagued the Order,” Father Scheitzen murmured, bringing his lips close to Nitz. “There are rumors, complaints of lesser men accompanied by lesser women thinking themselves and each other worthy servants of God. Their mutual weakness feeds off of each other, men raise illegitimate children by tainted nuns.” He spared a glancing grimace for the woman behind them. “I trust you and your companion have no such temptations.”

Nitz hesitated a moment to answer, allowing the image of temptation to fill his mind. He had seen what lay beneath the layers of black cloth: the rolling musculature, the scarred, pale flesh, the biceps that could break ribs with an embrace. The thought of succumbing to “temptation” had not, until this moment, crossed his mind; the foreplay alone would shatter his pelvis."

For further entertainment, check out


  1. Oh, how amazing! What a great stocking stuffer for my hubby, the dragon lover. *grin*

    And thanks for more interesting things to read. :D

  2. Sounds like good fun... but my daughter the dragon lover might be a bit young for it yet. Maybe the hubby would like it... hmmm

  3. The book look intriguing, a nice one for my sweetie. Thank you for the suggestion.

  4. Oh that sounds fun, I"m going to have to look for it!

  5. I would like to get this book for my brother-in-law. Where can I find it? I checked B and N and they don't have it. Would the poisoned pen have a copy signed by you? Thanks and Merry Christmas. Tracy

  6. I don't know--I'll email the Poisoned Pen and ask them to order some; I'll be going by there early next week to sign stock, so can take care of it then.

    I can't imagine why B&N wouldn't have it (unless they're sold out temporarily)--but amazon certainly does:

  7. Sounds interesting - I'll have to check it out!

  8. Sounds interesting!

    Just curious - what are the logistics between author and co-author?

  9. OOOOO I saw this the other day and didn't look at it closer darn it!

    I just replaced my entire series with used copies from Half Price Books because years ago I lent them out and never got them back :(. I had been several years with out copies (borrowing from library) and finally broke down and started hunting them in the used book stores.

    I even found a new copy of Echo @ HPB! I was nearly screaming in the store with joy LOL. I walked out with Echo, Voyager, Companion, and 2 LJG books all for under $30 :D.

    i'm a first time poster on the blog, and have to say will be an avid follower from now on!

  10. Dear Theresa--

    It depends on the situation and the co-authors. I've done collaborative things where several people each wrote a chapter, but had sole control over their own chapters--though the entire work was then edited and/or copy-edited by a single person. Other times, I've written the bulk of a story, but the co-author has either consulted on plot and character, and/or contributed some scenes that I then incorporated and smoothed in as to style. For this one, as I said, the co-author wrote most of the story; I consulted on plot and character and wrote little bits here and there.

  11. Hi Diana

    Thank you for answering my question regarding the coauthor!

    I've got to ask...did you really write your response at 2:51 am?

    Actually I've always wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the Outlandish Companion, especially when you mention napping on the floor of your office. My husband is a writer (boring academic philosophy books) and he always complains of lack of sleep due to our 2 young kids. I've told him to try napping on the floor, but I don't think he has the nerve or fatigue, yet!

  12. My 7-yr old avid dragon-loving reader daughter just said "oooh buy it!!" when she saw the cover...there aren't any dragon s** scenes, knifes through the heart, or nails pounded through fingers are there? :) I know, silly question, back to the children's section...

  13. Dear Eleanor--

    Well, I haven't yet read the other stories, so I couldn't say _what_-all might be in there. [g] Probably safer sticking to the children's section, though. [cough]