Monday, February 10, 2020

The Sky Was Filled With Dragons


The Dragonstairs Press rug dragon is particularly happy today because I've received an advance copy of Jonathan Strahan's newest anthology, The Book of Dragons. Which will be published this summer. I know it's a bit of a wait, but that's how publishing works.

I don't often have stories in theme anthologies because, with the occasional happy exception, I'm one damnably slow writer. Jonathan, however, was able to pry a story out of me through the simple expedient of giving me lots and lots of time to write it--well over a year, in fact.

Luckily, I had a dragon story I'd been working on for two or three years. Here's how "Dragon Slayer" begins:

Every road and open doorway is a constant danger to a man of wandering disposition. Olav had stood on the threshold of his cottage one spring morning and the road had looked so fine that he couldn’t resist setting foot on it, and the next thing he knew it had carried him to the sea. There he chanced upon a merchant ship in need of a new hand. He learned the sailoring trade, fought pirates, killed a kraken, grew a beard, pierced an ear, and one memorable night won a handful of rubies at a single turn of the cards and lost them all to a barmaid who doped his ale. Two years later, he was shipwrecked off Thule and briefly married to a witch-woman who had blackwork tattoos on her face and had filed her teeth to points.

The opening came fast. I wrote it in a day. But it took me forever to find out what the story was about.  Luckily, that nice Mr. Strahan came along with his invitation to participate in his book and that jogged something loose. A whirlwind twelve months later, the story was finished.

I imagine, though, that you're curious about the rest of the stories. Well, I haven't yet read them all. But those I have read were good. For more detail, I'm afraid you'll have to refer to the official press release. As follows:

Here there be dragons . . .

From China to Europe, Africa to North America, dragons have long captured our imagination in myth and legend. Whether they are rampaging beasts awaiting a brave hero to slay or benevolent sages who have much to teach humanity, dragons are intrinsically connected to stories of creation, adventure, and struggle beloved for generations.

Bringing together nearly thirty stories and poems from some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers working today— Garth Nix, Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Ann Leckie & Rachel Swirsky, Daniel Abraham, Peter S. Beagle, Beth Cato, Zen Cho, C. S. E Cooney, Aliette de Bodard, Kate Elliott, Theodora Goss, Ellen Klages, Ken Liu, Patricia A McKillip, K. J. Parker, Kelly Robson, Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, Elle Katharine White, Jane Yolen, Kelly Barnhill, Brooke Bolander, Sarah Gailey, and J. Y. Yang—and illustrated by award-winning artist Rovina Cai with black-and-white line drawings specific to each entry throughout, this extraordinary collection vividly breathes fire and life into one of our most captivating and feared magical creatures as never before and is sure to become a treasured keepsake for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales.

Immediately above: I couldn't resist including the rug dragon in the top photo, even though that downplays the very fine cover art by Rovina Cai. To make up for that, here's the upper half of that cover.


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