Make music and the dragon will come.
Please welcome Laura Bickle to the blog! She’s just started indie publishing but has been traditionally published for years. A fan of Wonder Woman and lover of animals, she writes thoughtful, lyrically beautiful stories.
Michelle: How did you decide to write the Dragon’s Playlist? Did your heroine just show up and start talking or did you first have the idea of the story?
Laura: To me, Di is an everywoman. She’s been cooking in my subconscious for a good many years now. She represents what a lot of us feel when moving away from our homes as young adults, that push and pull of loyalty and the yearning for independence. Di wants to experience magic on her own terms, her music, her independent life, but keeps getting drawn back and tangled in her roots.
Michelle: You heroine is a talented musician whose dreams are shattered when she is forced to leave school and a promising orchestra internship in order to care for her ailing father, a miner. She thinks her dreams are at a dead end, but then she meets the dragon. Why a dragon? What made this a dragon story for you?
Laura: Di grew up the way I did, in very ordinary circumstances. But she’s reaching for the extraordinary, for a bit of magic to call her own. For years, this has been her music. Since her music has been taken away, the dragon emerges. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime secret, a living opposition to the way of life she’s always known. He’s the risk, the danger, and the exhilaration of the unknown.
Michelle: I love the environmental aspect of the story. The mining town felt real to me in a way that most places don’t in fantastical fiction. Was mining something you had personal experience with or did you have to do a deep dive in research?
Laura: I was born in West Virginia. My dad worked in a chemical plant, not in mining, though. There are small towns like the one Di lives in all throughout Appalachia, where difficult decisions are made every day. These places have deep roots. It’s sometimes very hard to decide whether to stay or strike out on one’s own. For me, I felt that there was always a pressure to stay, to live life in a certain fashion. I still feel that push and that pull, sometimes, even though I live hundreds of miles away now.
Michelle:The dragon character is wonderful. I enjoyed him so much! He’s such a mix of dark and light. Good yet dangerous.Kind but fierce...no one should ever think they know where they stand when it comes to him. What went into developing your dragon? You made some interesting decisions (based on what I’ve read of dragons so far) on how he talks and functions in the world. Where did that come from?
Laura: The dragon, Afakos, is pretty much beyond lofty, academic ideas of good and evil. If we were playing Dungeons and Dragons, he’d be true neutral in alignment. He is very much like a cat in my backyard garden. “Good,” to him, is making sure that he has enough to eat, that his mountain lair is secure, that he’s got enough shiny trinkets and baubles to play with. “Evil,” to him, is anything that disturbs the world he's built for himself.
In that sense, Afakos is very much like how humans actually behave in the world. He just doesn’t bother with the pretenses and the sugar-coating.
Michelle: The way paganism is woven into the story is really lovely. For those who aren’t familiar can you give some background on dragons and their symbolism in the story?
Laura: Thank you! There’s a character, Julie, who runs a New Age shop in Di’s mountain town. The shop has received a mixed reception, but Di is curious about the magic there. She learns a bit about dragon lore, including the idea of making an offering to the dragon. That theme weaves throughout the book, as Di struggles to find a gift for the dragon that he might appreciate. She brings him a radio, which he thoroughly enjoys, and her own music. But there’s the underlying idea that magic comes with a price, that she will have to give up something very substantial to have this dragon magic in her life.
Michelle: Do you have a Dragon’s Playlist to go along with the book? (Make one!)
Laura: I do! It’s on my Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/author.laura.bickle. Di was taught to play the violin by her grandfather, and he has a taste for classic rock that’s been passed down to her. There’s a scene in the book in which Di and her granddad play “Kashmir” in his nursing home room that always makes me smile.
Michelle: Do you plan to keep releasing indie titles? What’s next?
Laura: I am enjoying this experience very much! I’m working on a couple of projects right now. One is another indie project dealing with rural magic. The other is the continuation of my Wildlands contemporary fantasy series for Harper Voyager. Witch Creek, the next book in the series, will release in March. And there will be a mermaid. A flesh-eating mermaid who’s escaped into the backcountry of Yellowstone.
Michelle: And where can we find you and your other books?
Laura: Deets on The Dragon’s Playlist are here: https://books.pronoun.com/the-dragons-playlist/
The latest info on my books is at my website, here: http://www.laurabickle.com/. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Author.Laura.Bickle, Twitter at http://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle, and Instagram at http://instagram.com/laura.bickle/. Be warned in advance that there are tons of cat pictures, witchy mutterings, and craft disasters posted in my feed. And occasional acquisitions of action figures. Like Afakos, I hoard things.
GIVEAWAY: Comment with your answer to the question below for a chance to win an ebook of Dragon’s Playlist! PLEASE include an email or link to your FB profile in your comment so we can find you to give you your prize. The winner will be announced early next week. I'll post the winner in the comments here and on Facebook so remember to check back!
Dragons always have a hoard. What do you hoard in your life?