Just a note to say that I will be appearing at the wonderful Edinburgh International Book Festival on Tuesday 23rd August. So if you’re around and want a book signed, do come and find me!
Hello, dragon fans. This is a very significant post. Today sees the UK publication of A Crown of Dragons, the final book of the UNICORNE Files trilogy, which effectively brings the series to an end. Sad for those who’ve enjoyed the books. But take heart, it’s not quite over yet. For the legacy of the UFiles is still being explored – in my Erth Dragons series…
Let me explain. If you’re familiar with the first two UFiles stories, you’ll know that their teen hero, Michael Malone, finds he has the power to alter reality. But where does this power come from? That’s a question that is put to Michael right at the beginning of A Crown of Dragons. The answer isn’t revealed to him for another hundred pages or so, though it’s pretty obvious from the very first chapter that it’s all to do with dragons – or a very small part of them.
Let’s back track a bit. The arc of the three books revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Thomas Malone, Michael’s father, who was sent to New Mexico by the UNICORNE organisation to investigate the alleged discovery of a ‘dragon scale’. Thomas manages to return with the scale, but his close contact with it has a profound effect on him. He not only begins to exhibit powers similar to those we eventually see in Michael, he also has ‘flashbacks’ or memories of dragons on Earth. Over time, he becomes so obsessed by these encounters that he starts to believe he once lived in an age when dragons roamed the planet. In an effort to keep Thomas sane and under control, UNICORNE use a deep hypnosis technique called ‘past-life regression’ to allow Thomas to open his mind and ‘remember’ his experience with the dragons. This leads to a dramatic moment when Thomas not only appears to recall an encounter with the creatures, but suddenly develops scales along one arm and speaks the words that form the title of this post: Galan aug scieth…
Those words turn out to be dragontongue. In English they mean, ‘I am you and you are me’. More simply: ‘I am become you’. Got where this is going yet?
Well, whether you have or you haven’t, it would be unfair for me to expand on that point much further; I don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of the final book, now do I? Let me just say it’s these words that link the UFiles and the Erth Dragons series together. There’s a good explanation of the phrase around the middle of A Crown of Dragons and a really powerful exposition of it in part one of The Wearle, the first book of the Erth Dragons series. In short, I recommend you read both books if you can, because you’re going to see a common theme developing. And that theme is this: if dragons were on the Earth (or ‘Erth’) at one time, why did they leave? And if they were here, what effects might their presence have had on other species living on the planet, especially humans? A favourite editor once said to me, ‘dragons are wired into the human consciousness’. What she meant was lots of people have an inexplicable fascination for dragons. But no one really knows why. No one to my knowledge has ever seen one of these ‘monsters’ that can allegedly fly and breathe fire and is covered in hard scales. But could it be that, like Thomas Malone, some of us are carrying distant memories of the creatures? Memories that dragons themselves might have wanted to eradicate, for instance? And what if their legacy went beyond memories? What if dragon DNA had somehow become cross-contaminated with human DNA – from a bite, perhaps? What would that mean for the human race? Well, read the books and form your own opinion. A Crown of Dragons and The Wearle are both available NOW. And remember, they’re just stories – or are they…?
And not to be outdone, hot on the heels of the UK cover release of A Crown of Dragons (see the previous post) my lovely American editor has just sent these advance copies of the US edition. It’s out in May, but available to pre-order now. This is a good one. Don’t miss it! Yesterday was a great day, because a SECOND box of books arrived with advance copies of the paperback of the UK edition of The Wearle. And if you don’t know what The Wearle is by now, click on this link: www.erthdragons.wordpress.com and find out!
Just in time for Easter, the editorial team at Chicken House have sent me the full cover layout for A Crown of Dragons. I think it’s really neat. I love the mix of colours and I’ve always admired the general design of these UK editions of the books. I like the way the designers have highlighted words like ‘dragon’ and ‘truth’ as if they were meant to be synonymous. Do they know something I don’t? Hmm…
I also like the way you’re encouraged to open the book at a certain page – in this case, page 61. Even I couldn’t resist having a look. I soon found myself nodding approvingly and muttering, ‘Good choice…’ For on page 61 you’ll not only find one of the major themes of the book, but also a link to my first Erth Dragons story, The Wearle. (If you want to know more about The Wearle, click on the link on the right hand side of these pages.) The theme I mentioned is past-life regression, the strange idea that under deep hypnosis people will reveal details of lives they’ve lived before – or think they’ve lived before. No one is really sure about that. But I love this kind of thing (as you’ll know if you’re read the first two UFiles books) and I explore it briefly in A Crown of Dragons. It’s still too early to give you a full extract, but I don’t think anyone will mind a few blog readers seeing this little excerpt. Here are the last few lines from page 61, where Michael’s father, Thomas, is being regressed. Check out what happens when the hypnotist takes him back too far…
Dad started breathing fast. For some reason, he stared all along his left arm. I thought I saw his skin turning green and scaly. And then he said the weirdest thing I’d ever heard, in a voice so low it made the speakers shudder. ‘Galan aug scieth . . .’ He put his head forwards and roared. There the film ended, with Dad’s face twisted like some kind of demon’s. And fire emerging from his left hand.
Now, those people who’ve read The Wearle will know exactly what I mean about a link to that book. The key words, of course, are ‘Galan aug scieth’. I expect most of you will be saying, ‘What on earth does that mean?’ You might also ask, ‘What on Erth does that mean?’ Note the subtle differences. Okay, so here’s a clue. Galan aug scieth is dragontongue! And it means… No, you read one of the books and find out! I know. I’m horrible. But, hey, writing cliff-hangers is part of my job description, after all.
Next time, I expect to be talking more about the links between the UFiles and the Erth Dragons. Until then, happy Easter everyone and happy reading!
I like to post something on my blogs at Christmas, but I was scratching my head a little for something to write. A Crown of Dragons, the third of the UFiles, is written and the series has all been put to bed – though the book hasn’t appeared anywhere in the world yet (May in the USA; June in the UK). I wanted to put up an extract, but it’s still a month or two early for that. So instead, I thought the text below might be apt. It’s the note that appears at the very end of the book. It doesn’t tell you anything about the story, but it might give you food for thought. Have a happy Christmas everyone. More in the New Year.
AUTHOR’S NOTE from A Crown of Dragons
This has been quite a journey. A journey into the unknown. I’ve made no secret of the fact that The UNICORNE Files were inspired by the TV series, ‘The X-Files’. I like to think that Fox Mulder, the hero of those programmes, would have been in his element if asked to investigate cases of cellular memory, telekinesis and, in this story, the mysteries of dragons. Dragons have fascinated me for the past fifteen years, ever since I picked up a clay model one day and introduced it into a book which eventually became known as The Fire Within. Since that time I’ve been asking myself one important question about dragons – a question that has had some interesting ramifications. The question is simple enough – well, simple enough to ask: Are dragons real? My head, of course, says, ‘How can they be real?’ For I was a scientist once (of sorts) and still harbour a little of the mindset that demands to see irrefutable proof before it can accept a belief in the unknown. Apply that mindset to the question above and it rolls out another straightforward query: If dragons had been indigenous to the Earth, if they had lived and died here as dinosaurs did, then where’s the palaeontological evidence for them? That’s a pretty good stumbling block – for scientists. But I’m not a scientist now, I’m a writer. And for writers, such questions are merely the basis of a challenge. We would point to the emergence of dragon symbology in different cultures as far apart as China, Wales and the Andes and say, How did that come about? For us, ‘hard’ evidence doesn’t matter. What we find fascinating is the awe-inspiring wonder these beasts seem to generate in apparently level-headed people in every corner of the world. It’s a writer’s job to examine the reality question and look for reasons around the lack of bones. On our cerebral (and sometimes spiritual) digs, we come up with theories. The one I favour most is this, that dragons were never indigenous to our Earth, but are instead ‘off-worlders’. Aliens. Extra-terrestrials. Visitors. That last word raises another huge question, one I set out to answer in this book, one that Thomas Malone did ask of me but I decided to leave between the lines of his tragic story. The question again is pretty simple. If dragons were here, and created such an overwhelming impact among us, why did they ever leave? Reader, you decide.
This has been The UNICORNE Files.
And here we are, relatively hot on the heels of the US cover, the British design for UFiles #3. Is this cool or what?
Don’t get me wrong, I like the purple US cover as well because it’s slightly weird and I love anything weird. At first glance the Brit one has simply gone for full on visual impact – striking design, ace colours etc. But there’s more to it than that. Look through the dragon to the suggestion of a swirling universe beyond. That is very much in keeping with the theme of the book. So credit must go to the artist, Steve Wells, for producing something of great beauty that maintains the integrity of the book. I sincerely wish the UFiles had done better in the market place, because taken together they are a fascinating read (as you’ll discover next spring when the book comes out) and this kind of artwork needs to be seen. Hey ho, let’s hope for greater things come May next year.
Exciting cover. This one will go on my wall.
Very excited to be able to put this cover artwork for A Crown of Dragons up on the blog today. My US editor thinks this is the best of the three covers, and I fully agree. I think we also share the opinion that Crown of Dragons is the best of the stories as well, but I don’t want to say too much about the theme of the book here. We’ll wait until nearer publication for that.
So far, on the whole, I’ve faintly preferred the British covers to the American ones, but this is a real eye-catcher, I think. I love the colour. Purple. My favourite. Publishers have their reasons for the artwork they develop. They know the market place better than authors, for a start. Ideally, you want everyone who sees the image to go ‘Wow!’ You can’t please everyone all the time, of course, but this one I am delighted with.
More on the story and that intriguing title later. For now, enjoy the imagery.