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The Dragon Of Death, And Other Weird Coincidences

“…For truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction; if it could be told, How much would novels

gain by the exchange!”

– Lord Byron, 1823

I’ve quoted Lord Byron’s words in a previous blog. How true again are his words reproduced here.

When I embarked on the writing of The Wizard’s Conscript, I set my Middle Grades medieval fantasy adventure in several mythical kingdoms in what is now Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. The people were vaguely Latin, with just a scintilla of Welsh (not sure how that happened!).

I decided the villain of the piece, someone bent on taking over this world, would be vaguely Russian, from a cold, cruel kingdom a little to the east. His appearance I based on—you guessed it—Vladimir Putin. Pale, short and, as we’ve found out recently, just as evil as Yuthörk, his Doppelgänger (and by the way, actual Doppelgängers are employed at a crucial point in The Wizard’s Conscript). So, if (when?) you read my story, feel free to “see” cruel Yuthörk as the repugnant Putin. I’m showing restraint here regarding my comments about the Russian president, but hey, what a piece of work he’s turned out to be! When I used Putin as the basis for Yuthörk, although there’d been many stories about how Putin cruelly dealt with his enemies, I could not predict that this real life person would invade the Ukraine, just as “my” Yuthörk is bent on subjugating the people of kingdoms neighbouring his.

And now another weird event has lately occurred. In the Mendoza province of Argentina, palaeontologists have discovered, described, and built a representation of an ancient fossil. They call it the Dragon of Death. It once flew. Imagine a few of those barrelling towards you through the sky, which is exactly what my heroine Caeri and some of her gang experience! I promise you, the fierce raptor creatures I imagined looked exactly like the South American “dragon”!

Are you hearing the strains of Twilight Zone theme music? If you’re too young to know about The Twilight Zone, it was a tv series in the late 1950s-early 1960s. Each episode was a self-contained story with elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror or other genres, with often a shocking or spooky conclusion!

I’m including in this blog a photo I took at the National Gallery of Victoria, of Saint Barbara. It’s a fourteenth century carving, though she lived (and suffered) many centuries earlier than that. Most representations of her are sickly sweet, but this one conveys a certain stroppiness which is totally representative of my heroine Caeri. A suitably prickly posture, clasping a book, and wearing the type of clothes Caeri wears when she’s trying to appear ladylike. It was fascinating to discover some people pray to Saint Barbara when there are thunderstorms about, and Caeri experiences a considerable amount of weirdly turbulent weather, courtesy of a wicked wizard!

While we’re on the subject of appearances, I’m loving the representation of Caeri on the cover of The Wizard’s Conscript (check it out on my website home page). She’s fourteen, going on fifteen, and is enlisted to carry out a significant role in a dangerous enterprise. An amazing assortment of people set out with her, or are encountered along the way. It’s a journey for her, it’s a journey for her companions, as in the process she and her friends learn some important truths. During the course of their dangerous quest they experience adventure on a grand scale. There are masses of magic, some bizarre forms of transport, several battles and other perils, as they travel to distant lands where they’re forced to wage all-out war against appalling evil.

If you’re around ten years of age (or maybe even a lot older!) I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Right now I’m experiencing another quest, with three of Caeri’s friends, as I immerse myself in writing book number 2 of the All the Corners of the World series. The possibilities for further adventures in this extraordinary world are limitless, with its many city states, kingdoms and landscapes, not to mention the diverse people and creatures inhabiting these realms.

I love research, but it’s good to take a break from it. Well, to do less than usual, anyway! A plus for me is that, though there’s research involved in, for example, finding out what sort of clothing and weaponry were used in the medieval period, I don’t have to stick to facts but, after establishing the basics, can let my imagination run free. It’s my world, after all! My previous book, The Heart Has Its Reasons, a historical romance, was based on real ancestors of mine and some of the calamitous events in their lives. I had, therefore, to be accurate regarding what they might have worn, customs of the time, and many other details. I should mention, that book is not suitable for the younger age group The Wizard’s Conscript is aimed at!

The Wizard’s Conscript is one hundred percent a figment of my imagination, based on a dream that unexpectedly occurred a few years back. It’s been stewing away, and now it’s tangible, a story converted to black type, and almost ready to be released into the world as an actual book with a beautiful cover and a map. It will also be available in ebook form. With Caeri’s story, I could let my imagination roam free, which is why there are many strange creatures in the tale, including unicorns. Not garden-variety unicorns, either, but unicorns of a particular type.

In preparation for my next blog, I’ve lately been investigating the history of unicorns, and discovered there’s nothing I dreamt up regarding “my” unicorns that hasn’t been imagined before. Not surprising, really, when you realise that unicorn legends have been around for thousands of years, in many civilisations.

More on unicorns in my next blog.

B.K. Houldsworth


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