Behind the Book, A Plague of Dragons, Flame and Form by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
The authors of A Plague of Dragons have decided to give us a little sneak peek into what went into developing their story.
Flame and Form by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Tell me a bit about your story.
Flame and Form tells the story of Brienne, a Faelorehn woman from the Otherworld and Dorran, a draghan shape-shifter from Firiehn, a neighboring realm. Brienne is on the run, having recently escaped a life of slavery from the Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war. While passing through a small town, she gets the opportunity to help a captured draghan. Knowing the creature will probably end up in the Morrigan’s hands, she sets aside her own plans of escape in order to take the draghan out of the reach of its tormentors. It isn’t too long, however, before Brie discovers this draghan is really cru-athru, a man of Firiehn who can take draghan form. This story began as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (a favorite tale of mine), but soon started to develop its own personality. There are still the common themes of a man taking beast form, and looking past the outer self and seeing the beauty within, but Flame and Form also introduces elements from my Otherworld universe as well.
Dragons are inherently magical; they cannot exist in nature. That being said, did you give any consideration to natural or physical limitations when you were dreaming up your dragons? Why or why not?
The setting of my story is a land rich in magic, so it wasn’t a far leap for me to incorporate a magical creature. The people of the Otherworld and Firiehn have glamour, fae magic, and can utilize it in different ways. Dorran, my dragon character, uses his magic to take draghan form and breathe fire. Despite the fact that my characters wield and use magic as part of their natural existence, there are limits to how much they can use and if they use too much, they need to rest and recharge before they are at their best once again.
How many average-sized adult sheep do you think the dragons in your story would have to consume per day?
Unfortunately, Dorran, my dragon character, isn’t a huge dragon. When he is in his beast form, he’s about the size of a Clydesdale or Shire horse. So I would say, if he were to stumble upon a hillside full of sheep on an empty stomach, he might be able to consume one of them. Though, I bet he’d be too stuffed to take flight afterward for at least an hour.
The dragons in your story are shapeshifters. In many shapeshifter stories, people lose their humanity while in their animal forms; werewolf tales are a well-known example of this. Do your dragons retain all aspects of their humanity when in dragon form?
This is a good question, and the way I usually approach characters in my stories who have the ability to shapeshift is that they retain enough of their humanity not to go entirely feral. I like the idea of the animal side of them lending their sharpened instincts to either form (because if they don’t go a bit wild, what’s the point of turning into an animal?). In Flame and Form, my shifter characters take on all the aspects of being large, fire-breathing reptiles. They are fierce, they are strong, they are naturally graceful. They recognize the human (or in my case, Faelorehn) woman who is their friend, but they also have no trouble identifying the enemy and treating them as such. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this subject in Flame and Form, but I do hope to explore it further in future books.
Tell me about some of the other dragon stories you’ve written.
I have one other series that directly features dragons as important characters, and that is my Legend of Oescienne series. The Oescienne books are appropriate for younger readers (10 years old and up) and they tell the story of a human infant found and raised by dragons in a world where her kind no longer exist. The dragons in this series are highly intelligent and capable of speech (in fact, Hroombra, the dragon mentor to my girl hero, Jahrra, was responsible for tutoring the human children of the royal family from long ago). This series is an epic fantasy adventure along the lines of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Eragon. There are currently four full-length novels and one short story collection in the Legend of Oescienne series, with the fifth and final book in the works. The titles of the books are The Finding (Book 1), The Beginning (Book 2), The Awakening (Book 3), The Ascending (Book 4), and Tales of Oescienne. The Finding has recently been made available in audio format.
Will there be a sequel to Flame and Form?
Yes! I have this terrible habit where, if I start a shiny new story, it usually decides to grow into something larger than a single book. I do have plans to write at least two follow-up novellas to take place after Flame and Form. No set publication dates yet, but hopefully one or both of them will be out before the end of the year. It all depends on how busy my other writing projects keep me.
If you could take one of your characters to a book event to help you sell books, who would it be and why?
I’ll go ahead and pick someone from Flame and Form since this book is the one featured in the new anthology, A Plague of Dragons. Let’s see… I would bring all my characters if I could, and although I think Mynne (Brienne’s blind, spirit guide wolf) would be a fun addition to any event, I’m going to have to go with Dorran. In his Firiehn form, he’s a ruggedly handsome, tall, dark-haired, flame-eyed man; a warrior from a realm of magic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wander over and get a picture with him? And if he wasn’t impressive enough in his more human form, he could shift into draghan form. A soot black draghan the size of a large horse who happens to breathe turquoise fire? Yeah, if I was attending a book event, that would DEFINITELY get my attention.
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