Tue
Feb 17 2009 1:13pm

Seraph of Sorrow ... in 60 Seconds

Bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson told Tor.com that her latest novel, Seraph of Sorrow, is the fourth in her Jennifer Scales series that she co-writes with her husband, Anthony Alongi.

“We started this series because of two things happening almost simultaneously,” Davidson said. “First, I was getting more and more fan mail from younger readers who were (perhaps inappropriately!) reading my adult romances. At the same time, Anthony was taking his grade-school daughter into bookstores, looking for good fantasy with a strong female protagonist to buy her, and coming up with limited (albeit excellent) choices. After we compared notes, we realized we were looking at two sides of the same problem: there needs to be more fantasy out there that shows strong young women. We believe both boys and girls want to read these kinds of stories.”

The series is about Jennifer Scales, a teenage girl who discovers she turns into a dragon every crescent moon. In Seraph of Sorrow, Jennifer Scales is at a pivotal moment in the history of dragons and their enemies. But will she bring peace to her kind, or ignite the most disastrous war of all?

Jennifer is not only part dragon, she’s part dragon-killer. “Her unique genetics give her unparalleled power…but also earn a lot of attention, from both friendly and unfriendly eyes,” Davidson said. “Through her ordeals, Jennifer never stops being a teenager—she still cares about her friends, argues with her family, breaks up and makes up with her boyfriend(s), and occasionally gets a geometry paper done.”

Davidson said that while fantasy worlds don’t require as much research as other genres, she and Alongi did want a great deal of what they did to be just right. “We’ve gotten the details of moon phases correct, looked into dragon mythology, researched various forms of poetry, figured out what weapons work best for what sort of attack, etc.,” she said. “In addition, the next book in the series (tentatively titled Rise of the Poison Moon) required learning a bit about what it would take for a fighter pilot to engage a dragon. For that, we talked to my dad, who was a fighter pilot during the ’60s. Bottom line, fantasy worlds make a lot more sense if you only break one rule (e.g., no such thing as dragons), and leave everything else intact.”

Once they broke the dragon rule, it wasn’t hard for the two to play ideas off each other and make the new world work. “If there are dragons, there must be a reason why we don’t see them. (Answer: weredragons, who only turn on crescent moons and have hidden refuges.) If they’re hiding, they must be afraid of more than your typical Federal Bureau of Investigation agent. (Answer: beaststalkers, who specialize in slaughtering dragons.) If things can turn into dragons under a crescent moon, why not other things? (Answer: werachnids, who can turn into man-sized spiders and scorpions.) And of course, it doesn’t take long before you start throwing all these things at each other to find out what sticks,” Davidson said. “Current events (racial discord, terrorism, etc.) provide all of the unfortunate fuel we need to bring these relationships to life.”

1 comment
rick gregory
1. rickg
"...fantasy worlds make a lot more sense if you only break one rule (e.g., no such thing as dragons), and leave everything else intact.”

That's an interesting premise and I intuitively like it and believe it. I wonder if the more well read folks in the fantasy genre can think of counter examples?

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