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Welcome to the first post in Dragon Eaters Week. Please welcome fantasy and science fiction author Joe Bonnadona.

The Dragon’s Horde, appears in Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, the brand-new, shared-theme anthology of Heroic Fiction created and edited by Janet Morris (c), and published by Perseid Press.

*Who are you? My name is Vadreo. I am a Gluriahan warrior, a Warhand of Thoon Wolf. My blood is the blood of the Dragon Eaters of old.

Why are you embarking on this quest? Our foes, the Draakonim, must be destroyed before they destroy my people.

Where are you from? (Tell us about it) I was born in the Bloodland of K’Thoon Morai. This is the land to which my people, the Gluriah, fled hundreds of years ago when the Vuladraakoi, the Mountain Dragons destroyed our homeland, our ancestral of K’Shar Wovay. The realm of my people is rich in forests and farmland, fresh water, hills, mountains, and to the south-east, a vast and barren desert. The Gluriah are farmers and fishermen, craftsmen and artisans, hunters and warriors.  

*Tell us about dragons in your world. The last dragon was slain nearly five centuries ago. According to legend, they demanded tribute from my people — not in gold, silver or jewels, but in human flesh, the taste of which they craved. They spat fire and ruled the skies for thousands of years before the Dragon Eaters tracked their queen to her lair and destroyed her almost five-hundred years ago. But the dragonmen the great dragons bred to serve them, the Draakonim, have survived, have bred and multiplied over the centuries.

What is the political system of your world? Very simple. While each thoon has a council of elders, we are governed by our chiefs. Warhands like me serve our chiefs, but at Klibberhelm Keep, one Warlord is in total command.

What is the best way to kill a dragon? As I have already told you, the last dragon was slain almost five centuries ago. But it is said that a dragon’s head must be cut off, or only certain weapons can slay a dragon, or the queen must be destroyed in her own fire. Much of what once was known has now been lost to us.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero? I am no hero. I am but a simple warrior who has volunteered to defend the frontier against the continuous raids by the Draakonim. The dragonmen come down from the north to raid into our lands, murdering our men and women, and stealing our children for whatever unholy rituals they observe. Warriors from Thoon Wolf — what you would call my clan and my tribe — have joined with other thoons to man Klibberhelm Keep, the fortress that guards Klibber Pass through the Bluecloak Mountains, to protect our lands and our people. We wage an ongoing war against the Draakonim, and in keeping with the tradition of the Dragon Eaters, we eat the flesh of the Draaks in order to gain their strength and ferocity in battle. “To know one’s enemy, one must eat one’s enemy.” Thus, we are now the Draak Eaters.

What is the technology level of your world? In my youth, twenty years ago, I journeyed my homeland to see the world, to fight with the Wandering Swords and the Rogue Blades, both fabled bands of mercenaries.I have seen such weapons as the catapult used in battle, and have even personally used a crossbow. But my people do not use such weapons yet. The sword, the spear, the axe, and the longbow are our preferred weapons. The Draakonim use weapons made of bone and flint, wood and crystal and stone, although some will use weapons ripped from the hands of our dead.

Where do dragons come from? There is no lore or knowledge that tells us the true origins of the Vuladraakoi. All we now know is that they came from out of the north, from the Warheart Mountains far beyond the lands of K’Shar Wovay, the Gluriahan ancestral homeland that is now called the Ashlands.

Are there other such monsters in your world? Besides the Draakonim, there are the spiderworms of the Semoory Desert. In my travels I have discovered that my world is filled with monsters of all shapes, sizes and breeds. But the worst monster of all is Man.

 Author questions (choose from):

*Who are you? Joe Bonadonna — writer and former musician.

How do you define a hero? A hero, to me, works and fights for a cause greater than him or her. Heroes do all they can to protect and nurture, to provide and care for their family and friends; without regard for their own lives, they serve their country. Heroes fight for those who cannot defend themselves; they stand as the shield that protects us, preserving our freedoms and our lives. The cemeteries are filled with heroes.

Why did you choose this world/era to write in? Tanyime is the world of my legacy character, Dorgo the Dowser. It is a world I began to explore over 40 years ago, and it is more familiar to me than the real world. My story, The Dragon’s Horde, is set in another part of Dorgo’s world, east of where he operates.

Give us a couple of lines about your characters. Vadreo is a no-nonsense warrior, loyal to his calling as a Draak Eater. Marriage and a family are things he gave up so he could dedicate his life in service at Klibberhelm Keep, defending the Twelve Thoons of the Gluriah. He has sacrificed love and wealth, and a lot of the happiness that the world can offer a man, in order to serve his people.

Shadumé is a Shuranho priestess of the neighbouring Vangi nation. She invades this man’s world of Draak Eaters, and is a highly-skilled and well–trained warrior in her own right. Although she is a grim woman, she is not without a macabre sense of humour. She is quite educated and very intelligent. But more than that . . . she possesses knowledge the Draak Eaters do not have, knowledge that has long been lost to them — and she is the one who has the answers to the riddle of men, dragons and Draakonim.

Heroika: The Dragon Eaters is a dark heroic fantasy – how do you define that genre? For me, dark fantasy is more serious in nature, more adult. The worlds of dark fantasy are hard and cruel, and often without much hope. It’s more cynical than other genres, and has more in common with film noir motion pictures than sword and sorcery, or epic/heroic fantasy. To me, the heroes in dark fantasy stories are often a bit tattered and worn; their motives are often suspect, as you’re not sure which side they are on — and usually it’s their own. And you’re never sure if they will survive. I don’t usually write dark fantasy, although my stories of Dorgo the Dowser are rooted in film noir

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? Yes, I’ve written for several anthologies: Griots: Sisters of the Spear; Sinbad: The New Voyages; Azieran Presents: Artifacts and Relics — Extreme Sword and Sorcery; and the shared-universe of the Heroes in Hell series.  The difference between writing a novel and writing short stories or novellas for anthologies are many: length, theme, style, etc. When writing a novel, you are writing according to the rules of your own universe. But when you write for anthologies, especially those with a shared-theme or shared-universe, you must abide by whatever rules have been laid out beforehand. It can be a difficult challenge, and at the same time a lot of fun. It’s also very rewarding when you succeed. For instance, I don’t find the rules of the Heroes in Hell series to be restrictive: quite the contrary . . . I find them quite liberating and have had no problem letting my imagination run free. I also find that shared-theme anthologies, such as Heroika: The Dragon Eaters are less “labour-intensive” than a shared-universe, although still requiring research and the hard work of sitting down and writing. For Heroes in Hell, for instance, I first choose my historical characters and then research their lives. For shared-theme or basic anthologies, I first work on my idea, doing what research is needed and then build on my fictional characters. While I prefer writing character-oriented, as opposed to plot-oriented stories, each story is different and has its own needs and requirements. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser? I can be both. It depends on the story. If the characters are really “talking to me” then I just hold on and write by the “skin of my fingers.” Sometimes, as in the case of many Dorgo the Dowser stories, which are often little puzzles or mysteries, I have to do a lot of outlining and plotting in advance.

What other novels/short stories have you written? I have written three novels — Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (heroic fantasy), and Three Against The Stars (space opera); and a sword and sorcery pirate novel, Waters of Darkness (with David C. Smith.)  I have written Blood of the Lion for Griots: Sisters of the Spear; The Book of Echoes, for Azieran: Artifacts and Relics; Sinbad and the Golden Fleece, for Sinbad: The New Voyages, Vol 4; and We the Furious, and Undertaker’s Holiday (with Shebat Legion) for Poets in Hell. I have some other short stories to be published soon, but can’t speak of those right now.

What book(s) are you currently reading? I’m rereading a number of Raymond Chandler’s short stories, and will probably reread a few westerns and a vampire novel or two as I try to figure out what to write next.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. I’m going slightly mad….

Author website/blog:  http://tinyurl.com/p6n7005

Twitter

Facebook:  (Bonadonna’s Bookshelf) http://tinyurl.com/nfo4xd3

(My personal Facebook page) http://tinyurl.com/onqj4wz

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/olwj589

Amazon page: http://tinyurl.com/ptng7nb

http://www.amazon.com/HEROIKA-DRAGON-EATERS-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00VFVCQRS/

Trailer and art by Roy Mauritsen

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