a natural history of dragons: author interview & giveaway

a natural history of dragons blog tour

As part of the blog tour for A Natural History of Dragons, which I thought was “fascinating, uncommon, and full of unexpected bits of alternate world society trivia,” I’m interviewing author Marie Brennan today and hosting a giveaway (courtesy of the kind folks at Tor).

marie brennan photo
Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to many short stories and novellas, she is also the author of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire (both from Tor Books), as well as Warrior, Witch, Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and Lies and Prophecy. You can find her online at SwanTower.com or follow her on twitter.

On to the interview!

1) A Natural History of Dragons is clearly a dragon book, but it's also a fictional memoir.  Did both of those story elements occur to you at the same time?
Very nearly. I actually thought first about running it as a role-playing game; one of the inspirations was the D&D supplement Draconomicon, and I wondered what it would be like if you had D&D characters going around trying to study dragons, instead of killing them and taking their stuff. But within about half an hour, I was also thinking of it as a novel, and the novel ended up winning out. The memoir voice followed naturally from the setting.

2) Your books are always meticulously researched, and you have an academic background in history, archaeology, myth and folklore.  What types of sources did you delve into for this (slightly) more scientific fantasy?
I tried to take it a bit easier this time, compared to the Onyx Court series . . . which means I only read, y’know, a small stack of books on Eastern Europe, Victorian fossil-hunters, Judaism, and so on. Plus random questions about chemistry, early rappelling techniques -- oh, and the climatology reading that went into figuring out the map and the weather.

I appear to be constitutionally incapable of taking it easy.

3) You've mentioned previously that you'd like to write YA.  I think that A Natural History fits as a YA/adult 'crossover.'  Do you have any projects in mind/coming to fruition that are purely YA?
Interesting you should say that; I actually wondered at one point whether this could work as a YA. The first book probably could, but since the series is going to continue on through Isabella’s life, it will move out of YA territory pretty fast, in terms of her age and what kinds of issues she’s dealing with.

As for your question, I tend to keep future projects under wraps until they become definite, but I do have several things potentially in the works. And Lies and Prophecy, my first novel with the Book View Cafe, is right on the YA border, too -- the protagonists of that one are in college.

art by Todd Lockwood

And now for a bit of fun...
4) Do you have any hidden (or not-so-hidden) superpowers?
I can find things. People will be looking for something they've dropped or mislaid, searching all over the place, and I'll find it in about five seconds.

5) If you could host a dinner party for fictional literary characters, who would you invite and what would you serve?
Oh, yikes. I could spend months wibbling over this -- there are so many great characters, but then the ones I find the most compelling aren’t necessarily the ones I’d want to have at dinner, and then of course I start wondering how they would get along . . . but I’ll say that Francis Crawford of Lymond, from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, could be relied upon to make lively dinner table conversation.

6) What books are on your nightstand (or wherever you keep your "to read" pile) right now?
I actively avoid keeping a pile or anything in that vein; the size of it would only depress me. My unread books are shelved with the ones I’ve read, and I just pull things out as they strike my fancy. But since I mentioned Dunnett above, I’ll say that I’ve started reading her House of Niccolo series, and am looking forward to the next book.

Thanks so much for answering those questions, Marie!  I shall have to read the Lymond Chronicles and meet Francis for myself.

Finally… a GIVEAWAY! I have three hardcover copies of A Natural History of Dragons to offer to you, my lovely readers. To enter, simply fill out the FORM. One extra entry will be granted to those who leave a comment on this interview post. Giveaway open internationally, will end on March 3rd, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. Giveaway winners will be selected randomly and notified via email. Prizes are provided and shipped by the publisher. Good luck!

Fine print: giveaway prizes courtesy of Tor (Macmillan).


none said...

This looks like a great book. Thanks for the great interview, I am even more excited to read it now.
I love hearing about authors' opinions. And I would also pick finding things as a super power!

Ryan said...

Loved the interview, which made me want this book even more.

Unknown said...

Great interview and review!
I'm a Brennan fan, Midnight Never Come was a fantastic book and I am looking forward to checking out something else of hers!

Reading said...

Thanks for the review. We love dragons in our house.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

elena said...

Yay dragons! All the images in this post is lovely, those illustrations! I'm curious that this one can work as a crossover.

Charlotte said...

Oh goodness, someday I will really get around to reading Dunnett--she is a favorite of Megan Whalen Turner's, too!

This book sounds fascinating...I love the cover.

Liviania said...

I wish I had the ability to find things.

I love how well researched Brennan's books are - it really adds to the depth.

Anonymous said...

I love knowing when authors are research fiends. Definitely pushes me to read their books.

Unknown said...

This book is SO high up on my list because dragons are my favorite.

It just got higher up because I didn't know the author's background. Being a researcher into those fields really impresses me and makes me fell confident on how well versed the book will be.

I love the answer to question one. I don't have a head for D&D but I know a lot of people who are and would enjoy that type of D&D play. In D&D the only real limitation is what the DM comes up with and my friends impress with their stories. With the background of archeology, I'd think the thought would have arose from "what would it be like if I was an archeologist in a place with dragons..." but having it come from thinking about a D&D game is awesome.

Dovile said...

Dragons are my favorite fantastic creatures. And the book sounds like really well researched.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Lovely interview. I read another post by the author about the book cover...very fascinating! I appreciate the giveaway too because a friend of mien LOVES dragons and I think this sounds right up her alley.

Kristia said...

I love dragons! And the cover is amazing :) Can't think the research you have to do to write such a book. Thank you for the giveaway.

Pabkins said...

I definitely need some stuff found...I can wiggle my ears!
Pabkins @ My Shelf Confessions

Anonymous said...

This book sounds so good! Having a finding-things superpower would be great - I'm always misplacing my stuff =P

Allie said...

I'm really intrigued by the premise of this book, and the artwork looks lovely!

Kirsten! said...

This sounds amazing! I love reading old Victorian travel journals and biological articles, so the injection of fantasy (my favorite genre) into these sounds basically perfect. I've never heard of her other books before, but if they're anything like this I'll definitely have to look into them :)

Dave Ramos said...

I want to read this bad! It seems amazing!

Steven A. van Velzen said...

Great interview! Can't wait to check out more of her work.

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