Dragons with pouches?

NotebookI said in a blog post a while back I’d tell you exactly why I’ve set my new novel in Australia. To be precise, it’s a kind of prehistoric Australia. Sort of …

The story’s set in an alternative pre-history – our world before the magic (or charm) went away. I’ve already explored this world in some depth in earlier novels. (For a list of some of the locations my dragons have already visited – along with their real-world counterparts – scroll down to the bottom of this article.)

In planning the new novel, The Dragons of Bloodrock, I was after somewhere that a) I hadn’t written about before and b) I could plausibly isolate from the rest of my already established world. As well as being an important plot point, this isolation also explains why the new location plays no part in the earlier novels. I’d already explored Europe, Africa and North America; out of the remaining options, Australia came top of the list.

Not that I’m calling it Australia. In the first draft MS it’s called Kangala. I’m still not sure about that as a name – we’ll see if it sticks. Forty years before the narrative begins, a disaster occured that left Kangala shrouded in a kind of nuclear winter. To make matters worse, there’s something in the ocean that prevents the dragons from fleeing the island continent. So Kangala’s become a prison – no way in, no way out. Part of the story – though by no means all – involves finding out how and why this disaster occurred … and working out what to do about it.

Beyond its usefulness to the plot, Australia’s proving to be a great location in its own right. At the heart of my story is a place called Bloodrock. No prizes for guessing this is an incarnation of Uluru or Ayers Rock. There’s a strong desert vibe going on in the novel’s early chapters, inspired by Australia’s fabulous sandscapes. And I think later events may explain the creation of the Great Barrier Reef. Or, if I don’t lose my nerve, the Philippines.

And, yes, the new dragons really do have pouches. But there the resemblance to kangaroos ends …

It’s fun taking real places and twisting them into imaginary prehistoric versions of themselves. Here’s the promised list of some of my earlier dragon hotspots.

  • South Point – Fortune’s home, this coastal idyll is modelled on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, on the UK’s south coast. It’s a childhood stamping ground of mine, so it’s only fitting it’s where the whole series of novels begins. The ‘beach of rock’ described in the Dragoncharm prologue is Kimmeridge Bay.
  • The Heartland – Northern Europe, rather distorted of course.
  • Heldwater – the Mediterranean, when it was just a gigantic lake with dreams of becoming a sea.
  • Trollstorr – Scandinavia.
  • The Plated Mountain – lies in North Africa, though it has no direct counterpart in our world. The terrain is partly based on Tenerife’s Mount Teide.
  • Mahl – Iceland.
  • Ocea – North America. The mirror-dragons live in the Grand Canyon and the Last Circle is, of course, Arizona’s Barringer Crater.

Dragoncharm mapMy publishers talked me into including a map with Dragoncharm. It was fun to draw it up but I’m not convinced it adds anything to the story. Maps are a bit of a fantasy fiction cliché, aren’t they? If the new book gets published will it feature one? Probably not. But if you want to locate some of the places in the above list, just click on the thumbnail image.

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