Good news: the first draft of The Dragons of Bloodrock is now officially complete. It’s taken around nine months to write. Curiously, that’s the same time it takes to make a human being. Like most first drafts, it’s rough round the edges. There’s a lot of rewriting to do before I’ll be ready to let it loose. But, as I’ve said here before, the second draft is the part I like best, so I can’t wait to get stuck in! But first a short rest. Perhaps a glass of wine. Or two.
Bloodrock is my fourteenth novel. If you check my bibliography, you might wonder why that doesn’t quite seem to add up. Well, just to set the record straight, I’ve had six novels published under my own name and four under pseudonyms. There’s a fifth one sold but as yet unpublished and two more unsold and sleeping in a bottom drawer. One of those may yet see the light of day. Bloodrock is currently unsold, but I’m working on it …
Reaching a milestone like this brings a strange mixture of triumph and anti-climax. Satisfaction too, of course. Also fear that the thing I’ve spent the last nine months writing is a steaming pile of crap. The only way to determine that is to put it aside for a while, then pick it up and start taking it apart. By the time I’ve put it back together again, I’ll know if it’s any good.
But you’re not interested in all this navel-gazing. You want to know what the book’s about. Maybe even get a sneak preview. All right, you asked for it. First, the blurb. Like everything else about this project, this is work-in-progress, but hey, it’s a start.
- Destructive pillars of fire are ravaging the desert continent of Jangala. Entire dragon communities are being destroyed and nobody knows why. Abalone, last survivor of the ancient dragon order of Peregrines, believes the answer lies hidden in the fabled stronghold of Bloodrock. Together with his companions Pyx and Nimbus, Abalone must delve deep into the past to learn the truth about the dragons of Bloodrock, who long ago tried to meddle with time and change the course of history. As he battles adversaries both old and new, Abalone begins to believe they may actually have succeeded …
The Dragons of Bloodrock is a prequel to Dragoncharm, although it stands alone. Reading the earlier books is definitely not a requirement. If you have read them, I daresay that’ll add an extra dimension. (If I ever get to book three of this new batch, by the way, you’ll meet a couple of familiar characters from the Dragoncharm series.)
I thought long and hard about what extract to publish here. In the end I chose a passage from chapter nine – that’s maybe a third of the way into the manuscript. I’m not going to give you any context, nor am I going to labour the fact that this is first draft, so still subject to change. But if you’ve followed me this far you deserve a reward. And here it is:
The Dragons of Bloodrock – Extract from first draft manuscript
Copyright Graham Edwards 2011
At first, Pyx couldn’t comprehend the scale of what he was seeing. The sea was an alien environment – something he’d heard about but never seen. It was bigger than the desert, grey like something terribly old. And it moved.
It was the motion that unsettled Pyx the most. It was as if the skin of the world had started to breathe. Waves clawed at the white beach, trying to overwhelm it. Further out: a heavy repeating swell. Bright foam topped the currents. More movement stole beneath, liquid layers of transparency, each with its own eager direction. There were no constants, only a constant flux. No landmarks, because this wasn’t the land.
So much for the sea. Even stranger was what swam there.
At first, Pyx thought them islands. Only a troll could be so big and live. But the trolls were long gone. Yet, like the sea they swam in, these islands moved.
‘What are they?’ said Ivory.
Most were far offshore. They wallowed like drowned moons, huge domed backs disrupting the waves, the bulk of them immense and unseen. Pyx could only imagine what the rest of their bodies must look like. He counted ten of them; between them they filled the ocean to the limits of his vision both left and right, and as far as the horizon. When they rolled over, they threw up vast serrated fins rampant with growth: coral reefs and thick weed, dense as mountain forests. The noise when their fins smacked down on the water was beyond profound. It disrupted Pyx’s belly and bones, made the cliffs around him quake.
‘That one,’ said Abalone. He didn’t need to point. ‘There.’
A leviathan had come closer to the shore than the others. It was approaching, actually, its progress slow and stately. Or so Pyx thought, until he perceived the colossal size of the wave building ahead of it. The monster’s sluggishness was an illusion, his own mind’s refusal to accept something so big could move so fast.
‘It will ground to our left,’ said Nimbus. She was calm, or at least contained. ‘They hunt away from the citadel. This is a small one.’
Ivory pressed close against Pyx. Their wings clashed.
‘A small one?’ said Pyx. Then, ‘What citadel?’
Most of the dragons were on the ground, or clinging to the cliffs. There was anxious conversation. Soon many of them started to scream.
The rumble of the leviathan’s approach drowned out the talk, and most of the cries. The air rang; Pyx’s eyeballs juddered, distorting his vision. Wind blasted through the gully; it was all he could do to maintain his hover. Nimbus and Abalone had resorted to charm to keep them aloft. Nimbus looked poised, almost serene. Blue charm made a halo around her. Her beauty blazed out of it.
Ivory’s wings collided with his again and he pushed her away, harder than he’d intended.
The leviathan was coming straight for them. Twenty wingspans from the shore, it reared up. Its back folded over, huge interlocking segments of shell collapsing into each other one by one. Fins rotated, sharp edges slicing through the sea and the bed beneath. The water around it turned to filthy milk. Scant breaths remained before it would consume them all. Pyx had to escape. But also he had to stay, to see what the monster would do.
Nimbus was right. The leviathan was actually beaching far to their left; again the size of it had deceived Pyx. Its back was impossibly arched now, its pale underbelly exposed: a coarse pale slab studded with horny growths, each the size of a dragon.
The interior of the leviathan’s gaping mouth was crimson like raw meat. Cloud roiled inside it; its breath was a climate. It was half the sky, a hole in the world. It expanded wider and wider, then began to descend. Pyx was deaf. Blue charm rained from Nimbus’s wings. Her face was dark with undisguised rage.
The leviathan’s mouth was all of it now, a blind chasm travelling with the momentum of a continent. The sound when it hit the shore made the sky burst. Invisible claws seized Pyx’s head and tried to crush it. He cried out with the pain. The leviathan drove inland, jaws closing as it came, biting down over the grass-topped caps of the cliffs. Chalk flew. The leviathan’s mouth enveloped the land. The sea was gone from around it; only a rising mist remained. And still it came on.
Abalone had joined the others on the ground. Ivory was there too. Pyx hadn’t noticed her leave. The Peregrine stood foursquare, head high, metal tail restless. The sky had filled with fog and splintered chalk and random eddies. Now only Nimbus and Pyx remained in the seething air. She was spending charm wantonly; he was flying by instinct alone, using skills he scarcely knew he had.
Gradually the leviathan was slowing. Sounds began to reach Pyx’s ears again: a hollow grating, the thin wails of the grounded dragons. The air settled a little and he propelled himself to Nimbus’s side.
‘Are you all right?’ he yelled.
Her tawny wings were quite still. Only the charm was holding her up.
‘When it retreats,’ she said. ‘That’s our chance.’
‘Chance for what?’
‘We have to rally them, get them inside. You have to help.’
‘Of course. I’ll do anything.’ It was absurd to crave her approval, but he couldn’t help himself.
The leviathan came to rest. It subsided into the fog it had made, almost disappearing, then immediately reared up again. It heaved, breathing if it breathed, or just gathering itself. Then it began its long slide backwards into the ocean.
‘It’s time to move,’ said Nimbus.
End of extract
That’s all from the dragons for now. Thanks for reading. As I said a couple of posts ago, I’m not going to blog about the novel while I write the second draft (well, all right, occasionally I might). But don’t worry, I’ve still got plenty to blather on about on the blog. There’s another Cinefex retrospective coming soon – Tron and Silent Running this time – and I’ve found a heap of great behind-the-scenes photos from my student animated film Basil’s Trump that I’m itching to get online. Plus all the usual nonsense about writing of course.
Now, where did I put that bottle of wine?