Niamh Clune

Environment, poetry, comment, children's books,

Author’s Corner With Shawn MacKenzie.

A favourite of Plum Tree Books is Shawn MacKenzie. You might all know her for her great editorial posts. But did you know, she is an expert on dragons and a brilliant writer in her own right? Shawn is no ordinary writer of prose. She crafts sentences, weaving them with natural flair whilst introducing the unusual. Her brilliance of mind and wit shines through everything she does. Great to have you here, Shawn.

Author’s Corner

by Shawn MacKENZIE

Hang out On the Plum Tree and you may know me from the Editor’s Corner. However, you may not know that there is actual authorial experience backing up all that pedantry. And so, at Niamh’s invitation, I’m delighted to introduce you to my fictional side, particularly my books on Dragons.dragon heeper dragon
As every dracophile knows, all talk of Dragons must begin with a story. They insist – and you don’t want to cross a Dragon if you can help it. So…

Once upon a time, when I was all of four years old, I fell in love with a Dragon. I found him quite by chance romping across lovingly worn pages and fanciful illustrations of a book I discovered on a ritual excursion to the used-book store. It was a treasure called The Dragon Green by J. Bissell Thomas, and its titular hero was a wondrous, spiky-wiky Dragon. Fearless from the moment he hatched in the heat of the Kalahari Desert, he grew up curious and proud and funny, irreverent and loyal to a fault. This was a Dragon with more heart than sense and enough love to challenge even the strongest magick. A Dragon of the first order, to be both emulated and admired.

Ever since then I’ve kept Dragons close, to ward the daemons of the dark with fire and whimsical tales. To remind me that there is so much more to the universe than most of us ever see.

And while this world view has informed much of my life and work, I never expected at age four that, half a century later, I would have two books about Dragons in print: The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (Llewellyn, 2011) and Dragons for Beginners, which Llewellyn published at the end of last year.

So I invite you to Dragon Country. Here the grass is seared by Dragonfire, the air crackles with Dragonsong. Here Dragons are as fiercely alive and relevant as they were when our ancestors watched them dance across Paleolithic skies. You don’t need to be laden with degrees or a lifetime of experience to navigate this rich terrain, though as any crypto-naturalist will tell you, when in the company of Dragons, wandering about blind can be dangerous. The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners are just the Baedekers needed by novice and pro alike.

Roam the verdant lowlands of Dragon fundamentals—what everyone should know but too few do—where natural and unnatural history meet. There True Dragons—Eastern, Western, and Feathered—are legends in their own time, and pseudo-species from lake dragon to tree-skimmer sparkle across hill and dale like jeweled Yuletide baubles. From proto-Dragons to the giants of modern weyrs, explore their ways and temperaments, and tap the deep draconic roots that course through our shared cosmologies. Move on to the mystic forests, where myth meets religion and magic turns to alchemy with Dragons ever at their core. Celebrate Dragons in art and literature: follow their shifting roles as they run the gamut from hero to villain, devil to savior, all the while being mirrors to our own souls. And scale the heights of Dragon Studies into the rarified air of actually living with Dragons, in the wild and in the family. From designing a habitat to safety, diet, and Dragon fun (flying the Dragon Festival circuit), these are the basics of Dragon care and conservation every Dragon lover should know.

Casual dracophile or dedicated Dragon keeper, my books are fun, scholarly enchiridians for all who value the covenant between our species, who refuse to ponder the unthinkable: a world without Dragons.

I think Dragon Green would approve.

You can take a look inside both books at the following Amazon links:

The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook

Dragons for Beginners

About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books.

7 comments on “Author’s Corner With Shawn MacKenzie.

  1. Shawn MacKENZIE
    July 13, 2013

    Thank you, Niamh. An honor to be here.


  2. Shawn MacKENZIE
    July 13, 2013

    Reblogged this on MacKENZIE's Dragonsnest and commented:
    Many thanks to Niamh Clune On the Plum Tree for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself…..


  3. loved this post 🙂 shawn


  4. the secret keeper
    July 13, 2013

    A great post Niamh. Loved your tales Shawn of discovering the Dragon in a serendipitous way. Those magical used book stores carry such treasures. I do believe Dragon Green was sitting up wondering and waiting for your arrival. “Where is that little girl. She was supposed to be here hours and possibly days ago. Ah, there she is. Now I will work my wonders on her. She will understand me. They told me she would.” And there you were, taking book in hand and from that day forward your destiny was forged. You have tried other endeavors. Playwright extraordinaire. I love you plays. But that was a different time. Now you are immersed with Dragon lore and mythical explorations and all sorts of stories needing to be told. But Dragons will be foremost in your mind. They chose you and you chose them. Either way you are meant for the other. As a writer, your brilliance shines through, your precision is excellent, and your imagination soars throughout the universe. Now you have taken on the Editor’s Corner, where you are teaching other writers, professional and novice, the inner workings of writing, so that it’s appearance is fleshed out with more accuracy. Giving valuable direction to us all. It is an enjoyment to read each week, so informative, and served with a (pardon the expression of someone I love,) “spoonful of sugar, which helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way.” Well, done Niamh, choosing Shawn MacKenzie as your “Author’s Corner” author célèbre. She is most deserving of the attention and has a great deal more magic up her sleeve from short stories to novels. When you wrote, Niamh: ” Shawn is no ordinary writer of prose. She crafts sentences, weaving them with natural flair whilst introducing the unusual. Her brilliance of mind and wit shines through everything she does. ” A most accurate statement, indeed. I will second that. Not biased much, just appreciative of a true “Wildean” wit who is a contrarian, too shy to shine the light on herself. So thank you for doing this for her. Jk the secret keeper ps. a definite reblog and probably will steal some of my copy, too.


  5. the secret keeper
    July 13, 2013

    Reblogged this on the secret keeper and commented:
    A marvelous post on author extraordinaire, Shawn MacKenzie. Thank you Niamh Clune and ontheplumtree. It is a pleasure to reblog this post of “Author’s Corner.” Well, done. Jk the secret keeper


    July 14, 2013

    When I was small, I did not know any dragons.. Russian fairy tales were what hooked me those days, Ivan and his chestnut grey. Dragons came late but having met some wonderful dragon seekers and dragon keepers, I have come to admire them deeply . Great to know more about Shawn, her inspirations and her books. Thanks for a lovely reading Niamh and all the best Shawn MacKenzie! May there be many more books to inspire others into the mysteries and secrets of the dragon world.


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