At the risk of being self serving I thought I’d join in the fun of Heroika week.
Heroika: The Dragon Eaters
Character questions (choose from):
*Who are you?
I am Ilsa, of the Order of Blood Sisters. My past is my own concern, the Order do not ask such questions and most of us tell no such answers. My kind know the wisdom of the old ways, we know the power of blood, and the old gods.
Why are you embarking on this quest?
Why? Because the Followers of Arun have brought us to this. The Archduke Darrin is dead, murdered, his sons are dead. The only hope we have is a dying girl-child of his line and her noble mother. If the Ivory Throne does not hold the pure blood there will be civil war as the nobles squabble over it. Not a worthy man among them to rule this land, puppets and sycophants all. War striped this land of its dignity and the return of war will ruin it. I embark on this quest for love, for love of this land, of what it once was and could be again and for the love of the peace which is so fragile.
*Tell us about dragons in your world.
The dragons are ancient creatures, from a time when the world was free. Thus they are of the world, far more so than humans, who merely live on it until such time as it is cleansed. In the old times they were revered as the primal beasts they are. Now the people forget, but the land does not. The dragons do not. Their blood hold much magic, the ancient magics from before the coming of Arun, that fool. Do not think them kind, or noble, or even possessing the morals most people claim they have. Dragons are killers, the ultimate killers. They once ruled and may do so again when the time of Mankind is done. Dragons have the hunger which drives all creatures and none of the illusions with which we fool ourselves.
They fly, they fight, they hunger. They kill with caustic breath, claws and fangs like blades and sheer power. Not many dare fight them, and of those who do most die.
What is the best way to kill a dragon?
With courage, luck and a very good plan. If any of those fail….
Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero?
I am merely a Bloodsister, no greater or lesser than my sisters who share my skills. I would not say I was a hero, for those are far too few these days.
What is a hero? One who will risk all for what is right. One who will stand and do what must be done. One who does not turn from the job in hand and one who will speak for the voiceless.
Author questions (choose from):
*Who are you?
- L (Alexandra) Butcher, fantasy author, poet, lover of history and nature. I’m a scholar, a dreamer, a lover and a writer.
How do you define a hero?
Someone who does not think about their own wellbeing when faced with a dangerous challenge. A person who will defend what they see is right, and those who often cannot defend themselves. A person who is selfless, brave and modest about it, they simply do what is needed without expecting any thanks, indeed sometimes despite criticism. There are many heroes in our world.
How much research did you need for your story?
Spear usage, flying creatures, and mountain terrain. I tend to do quite a bit of research for novels.
Have you written for anthologies before?
I have an anthology of mythic-style tales, plus another short story set in the world of my novels. I also have several poems and short fantasy and/or horror tales in anthologies with the Indie Collaboration and a group of Smashwords authors.
How does it differ from writing a novel?
Telling a tale in, say, 5000 words instead of 50000 has a number of challenges. One needs to be a lot more succinct and there is a lot less room for character or complex world building. In many instances it depends on the length and style of the story. For example I have some short tales about the Kitchen Imps – pesky little creatures that steal socks, knock food from shelves and generally get up to no good unseen by people. There is not enough material for a novel but they work well for short tales. Another example – the tales of lore for my Tales of Erana are good ‘fireside tales’ of monsters, myth and legends of the world of Erana, but again only as part of a novel or short story.
A novel, at least for me, needs a lot more background, more character building and a continuous level of action and excitement. I hate books with little or poor world/character building. Make me care what happens.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished re-reading the Odyssey, I read it some years ago when I was studying Classics, and I’d forgotten what a gem it is. This time the read through was for a course on Greek and Roman mythology. I’m about to start the Aeneid, which I’ve not read before.
I’m also reading the other Dragon Eaters stories, plus a fascinating book about pirates. Oh and an account of true crime in the 17th Century (which is hard going).
How important is the fantasy genre to our society?
I believe fantasy, myth and folklore are core to our cultures. Why? Look around you – it’s everywhere. In Britain we have a rich mythic heritage – George and the Dragon, fairies, elves, Welsh dragons, Scottish monsters, imps, sunken towns, ghosts, goblins, witches, King Arthur. Even Robin Hood – the outlaw who robbed the rich to give the money to the poor. The Heroic mythic is all over the place. There are influences from Scandanavia, Rome, Celts, Christian, Pagan, Indian, Chinese and many more. In such a diverse country the folklore is rich indeed. Storytelling is vitally important – be it via books, movies, even games. This is how we learn about ourselves, dream, adventure, and seek the past – albeit a fantastical one. How many kids dress up as St George? Fantasy Princesses? Fairies? Monsters? As adults perhaps we lose a lot of the wonder of fantasy – but it’s there in the background. Novel reading is an escape from real life, it’s a way to find a new world and meet new people.
Tell us one unusual fact about yourself.
I am claustrophobic and caulrophobic.
Hot and Sour Dragon Soup
Prep time 10 mins (plus however long it takes to kill the dragon) Cooking time 30 mins- 1 hour depending on size of cauldron.
1 large cauldron spring water or watered wine or ale as preferred.
1 small goblet fresh dragon’s blood (for stock)
2 large handfuls St George’s mushrooms (if in season)
1 small handful Penny Bun Bolete
Selection of bamboo shoots
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 slices fresh ginger
1 spoon chopped dragon’s breathe chilli (size of spoon according to taste –mild to certain death as required)
1 dragon cullion per person
1 dragon’s egg – lightly beaten
2 table spoons of cornflour
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Sesame oil and herbs to flavour
- In large cauldron combine the dragon’s blood, water (ale) mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and crushed chilies. Bring to boil then cover the pot, settle on the heated stones or reduce the heat to simmer.
- Place the cullions in a bowl, toss in sesame oil to coat and roll in the herbs. In a separate bowl stir together cornflour, wine vinegar (or wine) and set aside.
- Bring stock back to boil as add the coated cullions, drizzle in the beaten egg until long strands are created. Add in the beaten cornflour and vinegar. Simmer until the stock is thick and the cullions cooked through.
- Serve with ricebread, hardtack, bread or noodles.