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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.
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.
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: