3 Answers About Dragons from Fantasy Author Brian Naslund’s AMA

Fantasy author has discovered one weird trick to monster-slaying. Dragons hate him!

Debut author Brian Naslund, whose new fantasy novel Blood of an Exile was published this week from Tor Books, took to Reddit recently for his first AMA, where he ended up sharing some tips about dragon-slaying and dragon-preservation!

To start, JessBT23 asked for some dragon slaying advice:

An excellent question. In my world, dragons aren’t mystical creatures with magical powers, they’re simply enormous and extremely dangerous lizards. To that end, the best tip for a burgeoning dragonslayer is to wake up early, and try to kill your dragon before the creature’s had a chance to sun itself and warm its blood.

Sluggish dragons are slightly easier to kill. Warmed up and enraged dragons at full energy….not so much.

More exploration of dragons was prompted by fellow author and reddit user MichaelJSullivan asking, in part: “Can you tell us a bit about how the book got from “a story in your head” to something available for sale?”

As for the journey from “story in my head” to a sellable novel, I started with a pretty isolated kernel of a scene: hungover guy has to kill a dragon. As a challenge to myself, I wanted to make it as realistic of a scene as possible. No breathing fire, no magical swords, it’s just a guy with a spear and a very difficult task ahead.

The part of that scene that really expanded into a whole novel was this idea that dragons aren’t mystical or magical animals, they’re apex predators with a natural place in the world’s ecosystem. And – just like in our world – the organs and resources of these massive creatures would be valued and coveted…and then overhunted…and then when you take away an apex predator…what happens to everything else?

I think that building an adventure and quest around the dragon’s important place in the natural world was the lynchpin of moving from “fun scene” to “fantasy novel.”

brattylilduck said,” I really enjoy books where characters have a lot to deal with in the natural world, this sounds right up my alley! I especially like how you said one of the characters is studying dragons scientifically. Is the character-nature relationship mostly geared toward the dragons, or are there other flora/fauna to contend with?

There is definitely lots of other flora and fauna to contend with! While I was writing, I got really interested in the idea of trophic cascades – where ecological systems are all intertwined, and if you remove an apex predator from the system, the impact cascades down through all aspects of the environment. There’s a cool documentary about this focusing on the wolves of Yellowstone.

So, let’s just say that when you hunt down all the dragons in a certain area of Terra (the world in which Blood of an Exile takes place), some serious shit starts to go wrong.

You can read more of Naslund’s AMA here!

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