Good Afternoon everyone,
If you’ve been following my blog for the past weeks you’ve noticed that I’ve dedicated most of July to Dragons. I’ve read Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon a while back and despite the fact that I do not like fantasy novels I ended up loving the book. I was intrigued and amazed with the entire new world and secret society Maria Grace was able to create, which led me to read and review the second book in the series: Longbourn: Dragon Entail and finally Netherfield: Rogue Dragon, the last book of this first story.
I thought that would be it. I thought the adventure of Dragons in Regency was over, but I was surprised to hear that in fact, there is more to come! Maria Grace started another story, this time based on Persuasion, which, if you think about it, is perfect to place these Dragons (if you’ve read any, you know what I’m talking about).
She is here today to talk about those books, and to share an excerpt too, so I hope you enjoy 🙂 And please do let us know what you think about this innovative idea of bringing Dragons into the JAFF World 🙂
Rita, thanks so much for hosting me today. I’m excited to share the newest books in my Jane Austen’s Dragons series with your readers!
You can blame my three sons for this adventure. We were having lunch at the local pizza buffet one day and started kicking around ideas and we hit on ‘what if dragons lived during the Regency…’ Well before I knew it, we’d hammered out an entire dragon culture and the story potentials went WILD. So much fun!
So, here’s the premise:
England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind. Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet—and now Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth—are able to hear and converse with dragonkind.
I grant you, it might sound a little farfetched at first, but if you take a glance at English mythology, it is full of dragons. Seriously, they are everywhere. Don’t believe me? Here’s just a partial list if dragon myths: the Lambton Worm, the Dragon of Mordiford, the Dragon of Unsworth, the Dragon of Wantly, the Dragon of Longwitton, the Dragon of Loschy Hill, the Bisterne Dragon, the Worm of Linton, the Stoor Worm, the Sockburn Worm (or Wyvern), Blue Ben, and the Lyminster Knucker. With dragons just about everywhere in English myth, it seems likely that Jane Austen herself had to have been familiar with many of these dragon legends.
Add to that a smidgen of research on dragon mythology in Europe and you find creatures like the tatzelwurm. (I didn’t make this one up! In fact, nearly all my dragons are based in world dragon mythology.) In Alpine folklore, the tatzelwurm is a creature, often described as having the face of a cat, with a serpent-like body which may be slender or stubby, with four short legs or two forelegs. Tales describing encounters with the creature can be found in several areas of Europe, including the Austrian, Bavarian, French, Italian and Swiss Alps. Needless to say, my imagination went into overdrive. Is it any surprise that I have several of these ‘cat-dragons’ sprinkled through my series?
From there, it wasn’t much of a leap to start thinking about the nautical tradition of ship’s cats. As far back as 900BC, onboard Phoenician ships heading out in search of new trading partners, sailors brought cats on board. Since then, the ship’s cat has been a common feature on many trading, exploration, and naval ships providing vermin extermination and companionship for the sailors. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s a sailor around in need of a ship’s cat…
No doubt you can see where this is going! So, here’s a sneak peek of Wentworth and his faithful ‘ship’s cat’ who is quite more than he appears to be—from Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion.
Late June 1814
The last vestiges of sunlight hung low over the ends of the earth as mild salty air kissed his cheeks. Educated people laughed at the thought the world was flat. But here, in the middle of the open sea, bobbing with the restless waves, and no shore in sight, it looked, it felt, otherwise. There on the western horizon, the sun dipped down to hide its light—maybe to rise again the next day. But then again maybe not. Just because it did so every day before was no guarantee it would do so ever again.
The future was as unfathomable as what might lie beyond the line that divided heaven from earth.
“Mrrrow.” A large, black furry head rubbed against Wentworth’s leg.
How did Laconia always know when his thoughts had turned maudlin? The tatzelwurm spring-hopped to the railing, lashing his tail tight around it. Only one other on the ship knew the secret of Laconia’s legendary balance as he tiptoed on the ship’s rails and rigging surefooted as a mountain goat. The rest simply considered him quite the luckiest ship’s cat in the history of the navy.
Since the ship’s namesake arrived, their prizes had grown larger and more frequent and their casualty rate diminished. Laconia was to thank on both counts. Small sea dragons proved only too willing to reveal the location of valuable prizes to Laconia for the promise that Laconia’s sailors would leave them and their hunting grounds in peace. Only a very little bit of persuasion was necessary to convince superstitious sailors to mind their ship’s cat’s signals. All told it was almost too easy.
He scratched behind Laconia’s tufted ears. What a marvelous sound, that rumbling purr. It did something to one’s soul. Almost as healing as that steel-rasp tongue of his. According to the ship’s physician, tatzelwurm tongues had special healing properties. Wounds they licked were apt to heal quickly and cleanly. Wentworth’s shoulders twitched as he kneaded the scar on his forearm.
That cut could easily have gone septic; the tatzelwurm’s ministrations had been a test of Wentworth’s mettle—entirely worth enduring to be sure, but a test nonetheless. He chuckled under his breath and moved to Laconia’s favorite spot under his chin. Laconia rose up on tiptoes and arched his neck for more.
That episode earned Laconia a near reverence among the sailors—no persuasion necessary. They almost fell over themselves to curry favor with him. Moreover, the crew was profoundly defensive of their lucky charm, and rejected any man who did not revere him appropriately. Though it proved a mite difficult on his ego that the ship’s cat was possibly more popular than himself, the crew’s unity that came with it was valuable.
One more benefit the little dragon had brought into his life.
“You are trrroubled.” Laconia rumbled, looking up at him, great gold eyes gleaming in the moonlight. He pressed his head hard into Wentworth’s hand and leaned his furry shoulder and all three stones of his weight into Wentworth’s chest.
Laconia’s powerful purr reverberated through Wentworth’s ribs. “Five years we have been together on the Laconia, my friend.”
“I am able to watch stars as well as you. I know how long it has been.”
“Of course, you do. You know we are sailing for England now.”
Laconia chirruped. “And my directional sense is flawless. Why all the useless words?”
“I suppose I am philosophic right now, and you know philosophy uses a great many useless words.”
Laconia snorted; the tip of his tail flicked against the wooden railing. It would not hurt the young dragon to learn a little patience.
“You know I will likely be beached when we anchor in Plymouth. With Napoleon safely in exile, there is far less need for ships on the sea.”
“That is what troubles you.” Laconia pushed the side of his face against Wentworth’s chin. Long prickly whiskers tickled Wentworth’s nose as the edge of one fang scratched his cheek.
“Of course, that troubles a sailor. Poor Benwick—he only just made captain on the Grappler, and now this?”
“To take half pay as a captain instead of a lieutenant, without having hardly done the work for it does not sound like such a bad thing.” Laconia licked between the toes of his oversized thumbed paw. Could he make his disdain for Benwick any clearer?
“But what does one do on the land? I have been at sea for so long—where do I even begin?”
“With the Blue Order.”
Oversimplifying things as usual. “What would they want with me?”
“Modesty is not always a desirable quality in a warm-blood.”
“More than once I have heard you say it would be helpful in a dragon.”
“Dragon pride is more difficult than warm-blood pride—you are not apt to eat offending creatures.” Laconia licked at a loose scale on his thick black tail. It pulled off and fluttered to the deck, twinkling in the rising moonlight as it fell. “You are well known among the sea dragons. They ask for you by name now. Most of those around the English coast and in the Mediterranean know the Laconia by sight and see your arrival as a boon.”
“I will miss the many dragon friends we have made. But what has that to do with anything if I am to be beached?”
“As I understand—and I understand a great many things more than you realize—” Laconia pulled back slightly to look Wentworth square in the eye, “—the Order has no liaison to maritime dragons. Perhaps it is time for one.”
“They have done without for what? Five hundred years more or less. Why would they need one now?”
“Times change. Men change. The war with France has changed things, no? The Blue Order must change with the times or the Pendragon Accords will become meaningless, and all that has been accomplished will be for naught. Even if they do not want a Maritime Officer, the Dragon Sage can always use those who can assist in dealing effectively with dragons. None can match your ease with sea-faring dragons.”
The Dragon Sage was a woman. Wentworth rubbed the back of his neck. That would be interesting. Taking orders from a woman. The whole notion did not seem to bother dragons, but it would take some getting accustomed to for a military man. “Even if I should work for the Order, what else shall I do? Not even the highest officers of the Order spend all their hours working.”
“You need a mate.”
The word hit like the pelting, stinging rains of a winter gale.
“Your sister and her mate—”
“My sister is a rare and unique woman. Croft is very lucky to have her.”
“I have seen. You would benefit to be in the same way as he.”
“I dislike the notion of marriage.”
Laconia leaned in a little closer, nose nearly touching Wentworth’s. “You are still resentful.”
Wentworth grumbled under his breath and stepped back slightly. “I have a very great deal to resent. She rejected me.”
“Can she hear dragons?” Laconia stretched out, impossibly long, to press his paws to Wentworth’s shoulders.
“I never asked.”
“You cannot tell?”
“No, it is not apparent to most warm-bloods. She never mentioned it.”
“No! Without a landed dragon, why would it matter? I did not have you then. I had little to do with the Order. Hearing dragons was hardly something I considered significant in a wife.”
“Perhaps you should have. You certainly must now.” Laconia’s fishy breath curled his nostrils.
“You live here amongst an entire crew who cannot hear dragons—save Rylie of course. And you manage quite well indeed. Does it really matter?”
“Here I am a lucky omen, a ship’s cat. I will lose that on land—I am told some there dislike cats, and even more black ones. I must have allies I can trust.” Laconia shrank back a little. For all his boldness in his home territory, he still—and probably always would—carried with him a not-quite-timidity, but a caution perhaps?—born of his perilous hatching.
“Do you wish to stay with the ship?” The words barely escaped in a hoarse whisper.
“Do you want me to?” Laconia’s head and shoulders drooped.
“Do you wish to stay? I have no desire to compel you against your will.”
“You are my Friend, my particular Friend. I do not wish to separate.” Laconia’s paws inched higher on Wentworth’s shoulders, and he leaned his weight into them.
“I am glad to hear that.” Wentworth wrapped his left arm across Laconia’s shoulders and scratched behind his right ear.
“So, your mate must be able to talk to me. And she must like me.”
“Why would someone not like you?”
“It happens. I will not live on land with someone who does not like me.”
“I would not ask you to do so.”
“Perhaps she could hear dragons.”
“Who? Anne?” God above, it should not be so hard to say her name now.
“Perhaps that was why she rejected you. She could hear, and you did not tell her you could as well. Their estate has a dragon. It only makes sense that she can hear.”
“Perhaps, but I still do not think so.”
“You should find out.”
“Why? It is nearly eight years since I have seen her—I expect she is married off and has a houseful of children by now.”
“And if not?”
“She rejected me. I have no desire to see her.”
“If you still resent her, you have feelings for her. You should see her.” Laconia jumped off the railing and spring-hopped off, disappearing into the deep night shadows.
Stubborn, stubborn creature.
But perhaps he did have a point. Marriage and a proper home, with the proper woman, not Anne Elliot, might not be so bad a thing.
Is it a little off the beaten path for Austenesque fiction? Absolutely! But what better time to try out something entirely new and different than a year like 2020?
If you’d like to have a peek at more previews, check them out on my website, RandomBitsofFascinaion.com. The Dragons of Kellynch and Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion
Dragons of Kellynch
In order to secure her future, a young lady must marry well.
One would think Anne Elliot, a baronet’s daughter, would find the marriage mart far easier to navigate than a more ordinary woman. One would be wrong.
After refusing a poor, but otherwise perfect sailor, on the advice of her friend Lady Russell, Anne finds an unhappy choice before her: marry deathly dull Charles Musgrove or hope against hope that another suitable proposal might come her way before she becomes a spinster on the shelf.
Anne’s disgracefully independent choice to refuse Charles’ offer turns her world entirely arsey-varsey and not in the expected turned upside down sort of way. She begins to see things … hear things … things like dragons.
And once one sees dragons, one talks to them. And when one talks to them, nothing is ever the same again.
Must a young lady marry well if she hears dragons?
Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion
Keeping a hibernating dragon should have been a simple thing.
Should have been, but it was not. Apparently, nothing involving dragons was ever simple, at least not for Anne Elliot, junior Keeper to dragon Kellynch.
With the estate in debt, Anne’s father in denial, and the dragon’s treasure missing, Kellynch’s awakening was shaping up to be nothing short of catastrophe. Not to mention there was the pesky matter of her own broken heart and resentment against the old friend who had caused it.
Captain Frederick Wentworth had spent his life making something of himself in the Navy. With the war that kept him employed at an end and a small fortune in prize money, he found himself beached and at loose ends. What was he to do with himself now—take a wife like Laconia, his dragon Friend, insisted? Not when none compared to the woman who had broken his heart.
Working as an agent of the Blue Order, managing dragon matters across England, seemed a much better alternative. At least until investigating one such matter sent him directly in the path of Anne Elliot, the woman who had ruined him for all others.
Now a royal dragon rages, a sleeping dragon lurks, and too many treasures have gone missing. Can Anne and Wentworth lay aside resentment, pride, and heartbreak to prevent Kellynch’s awakening from ending in bloodshed—or worse?
Jane Austen meets Pern in a fantastical regency romp bound to delight readers of Jane Austen and Anne McCaffrey alike.
Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.
She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction. Her books are available at all major online booksellers.
She can be contacted at:
Random Bits of Fascination
English Historical Fiction Authors