Monthly Archives: November 2008

Added ingredients 2

Magpies

A more esoteric addition was the use of magpies. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked up “magpies” but there is a mountain of information on them. Try an internet search on “magpie lore”. 

We brought them into Scordril because we needed to use the rhyme about counting magpies – the one that starts:

One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy…

To prepare for that (so it wouldn’t look tagged on), we had Morris looking at – and counting – magpies early on when we first meet the two overgrounders leaving the camp site to climb the Law. 

That was realistic, because we had already decided he would have an affinity with animals so that he could be okay with dragons (well, you do need some credibility!). To integrate that small point about noticing magpies, we made Flick tease him about his state of mind. When he asks, without warning, what two magpies mean, Flick says:

“I know it’s silly of me, but I didn’t think this tiny amount of sun was enough to turn your head. What are you talking about?”

Later, to affirm Morris as an animal lover, we showed him letting a butterfly land on his arm – it’s amazing how character fills out and grows from the plot just as much as plot grows out of character.

And once the magpies were “in”, so to speak, it was great to be able to use the rest of the rhyme to link to the secret element of the plot. If you want to know who is keeping secrets from whom, you know what to do!

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The dragon quiz

The internet is alive with sites where dragons are mentioned, loved, reviewed and honoured. There are also some fabulous pictures.

Here at Lothian Dragons, we know Scordril and his kin really well because we visit them regularly. But we’d love to know more about you and your dragon experiences. For instance:

  1. Are you a dragon believer? If so, why? If not, why not? Spill the beans!
  2. What interests you most about dragons?
  3. If you could mindspeak with dragons, what would you ask them?
  4. Which good books about dragons have you read?
  5. Scordril and his kin live under the towns and hills of East Lothian in Scotland. Where else are there dragons?

We’ll read your comments with interest! You can read the first page of Scordril here.

Added ingredients 1

When we had the theme, plot and sections mapped out, it was only natural that we would add in various other things as we wrote – things we knew about or were interested in. 

Herbs

One of us knew about herbs and healing, so that’s why Threah is skilled in the art. She’s therefore the one who tends Brygnon, the injured dragon who arrives from Traprain Law on the first page.

She also comes in handy when the mages at Musselburgh layr are inventing a new magic to counter the strange magic of the dragongrid. The experiment gives them a massive headpain:

At that moment, Threah appeared carrying a bowl. >>Drink this,>> she commanded. >>It is a tincture of feverfew and will quickly take away the headpain.>> 

[The use of italics between chevrons is our indication for mindspeech.]

Threah has a helper in Ennasif, a younger dragon who is learning about herbal treatments. Both of them fly east from Musselburgh with the wing of dragons under Kvayn’s command – any dangerous enterprise needs a healer on the team!

If you want to know what that enterprise was, I guess you’ll need to read the book – you can find it here. But Threah can’t be just a healer in the story. So we made her Scordril’s intended mate – if he can keep his temper under control.

I’ll look at more “added ingredients” in a future post.

Another book signing

In addition to our book signing for Scordril at Borders, Team Valley on 13 December, we now have another signing arranged at Borders, Silverlink Shopping Park, Newcastle, on 17 January. 

This is getting to be fun – it’s difficult to concentrate on other things when we are promoting the welfare of so many dragons as we go around. We are hoping Scordril will be proud enough of us to give us one of their valued talismans. Morris got one – and we’d like one too!

In case you haven’t realised it yet, we love dragons. You couldn’t ask for a nicer, more loyal group than the ones who live in East Lothian under Musselburgh and Traprain Law.

If you live in the northeast of England, we’d love to meet you at one of these Borders branches and talk dragons.

Visit to St Mary’s

This took place on Wednesday in Haddington, East Lothian, and was our first primary school “author visit” in connection with Scordril. We loved meeting everyone and had a really good time. Many thanks to Emma Robertson, the deputy head, who arranged it.

We crammed lots into the hour, but one of the things the children did was to invent a few more dragon names in the same way we’d done ours. If you remember, this was by using a book of Norse Myths and Legends and mixing and matching the start and finish of Norse names.

These are some of the names we ended up with – and we shall try to use a few of them in book 3, which is provisionally called Yordis:

Andvek

Bergelnar

Bolki

Bolmir

Agki

Vekmir

Agmir

Varinar

(There were some other great invented ones, although they strayed outside the rules of the game!)

We were given a lovely “thank you” picture by two of the girls – Charlotte Smith and Emily Smith who are not sisters, they say – so we thought we’d share it:

stmarysdark

Magic rules!

Most books with magic in them have rules for how that particular magic is used. Otherwise, when things got tough, someone would just come on with a wand and “magic” it back to normal. Problem solved.

The dragons in Scordril have their own rules for magic. These are three of them:

1 The magic is found innately in the dragonmages. The rest of the dragons draw their magic energy from the mages in the layr, as and when they need it. This might include magic for flying behind a cloud or for morphing (see 3 below).

2 If too much magic energy is used at any one time, the mages have to rest while they recover. So there isn’t an endless supply. 

3 The dragons can draw on magemagic to morph into overgrounder shape. But adult dragons cannot remain morphed for long – just a few hours. Younger dragons can maintain the morphed shape for longer.

As you read, you will find several more “rules” that affect how they can use their magic. But that’s the basics.

I like magic to have rules. In the ancient Greek dramas, there was something called Deus ex machina – which meant that at the end of a play, a god would descend from the sky and make a happy ending. That’s not exactly clever, is it? I’d much rather people in books solved their problems themselves, which is exactly what Scordril and Morris and Flick do, by their own inventiveness.

Mapping it out

Not everything in Scordril came from our inventive minds. We made visits to Traprain Law and Musselburgh on several occasions to draw the location. 

The Musselburgh visits happened much earlier because Farlkris – the book we wrote first (see here for an explanation) – was totally based there. We needed to map out where overgrounders and morphed dragons went at any time, so we could describe the routes properly. In this way, readers can go and say, for example: “This is the wooded area where they searched to find the factory.” So the up-to-date Musselburgh was mapped.

But Musselburgh in Scordril, is different. In Scordril’s time (1950s), there was nothing much above the layr so it was possible for dragons to keep watch and come and go more freely (although they still flew behind mage clouds). By the time of Farlkris, we have a Tesco supermarket on that very plot! So we had to have them coming and going via a drain cover that led to the sewers, and along to the layr they’d excavated when they needed more space.

Traprain Law was easier to map, because our map included the countryside around. We just had to get the hill’s shape and the rocks right. We did move a stream to where we wanted it (how else would the campers wash?), but otherwise it’s just as it should be – and characters who climb up can see from the top of the Law the very things a visitor can. 

We like that kind of accuracy because it’s fun to go and find places you read about in a book. The map that Morris drew of the Law also shows where the dangerous dragongrid was cast, and where the dragon tunnels ran in and out of the Law. We’ve put it in the book and on the main website, if you want to have a look.