DWP: Dragons offer so many possibilities. I wanted a creature open to interpretation, one that the characters could define as terrifying or sublime, depending on their worldview. I also wanted to turn the deadly fire-breathing dragon stereotype on its head and offer something fresh. So, the dragons in the book are the embodiment of pure spirit, a metaphor for the perfection of the world that resides within the characters if they can only access it. The idea of humans merging with the dragons intrigues me. I wish I could do it!
CJ: Me too, and your descriptions enabled me to imagine doing just that. And like any good stereotype flip you start with the stereotype and the idea that these are dangerous creatures, and then alter our perceptions.
This is probably going to be an unfair question, a bit like asking a mother to pick a favourite child, but who was your favourite character to write, and why?
DWP: I’m going to cheat and say there are two. Earlin, for one. She is so full of spark, so fearless and vulnerable at the same time. I had to dust off my sarcastic-hat when I wrote her scenes. I’m also a big fan of Conall. He has a huge character arc as he comes into his own power and sense of destiny. I had a serious crush on him for a long time. Oh, and then there’s the opinionated Droom, and who could forget the Trag – a little dragon modeled on my cat. That’s four; then there’s…
CJ: *Cough* Pretty sure I counted four there. I do have to admit, the Trag captured my heart right from the start with his “prook” noises, which do sound quite similar to the sounds my cat makes when she “talks” to me. If I were to pick a favourite, I would have to say Treasa. She’s very independent, and yet warm and caring. A wonderful example of a well-rounded strong female character.
There are several themes threaded through Myths of the Mirror, but if you could choose one thing for a reader to take away from the story, what would that be?
DWP: I wanted to write a story about choice, about how our choices distinguish us (and formulate the myths of our lives). I love the idea that our lives are myths, a conglomeration of what others believe about us and what we believe about ourselves. Through our choices, we have the power to define and redefine who we are. In Myths of the Mirror, this self-definition is exactly what the characters undertake. In a way, they accept the responsibility for authoring their lives.
CJ: I think you definitely achieve that. Without giving away any spoilers, I also found it spoke strongly to me of the balance of the universe, and living within that balance, and what happens when we don’t.
You have several new novels in the works. Could you tell us a little about them? Is there a sequel to Myths of the Mirror?
DWP: This fall, The Melding of Aeris is due in print. It takes place in a world where people can have animal skin and features melded to their bodies. Born to transfigured parents, Aeris is a monster who longs to be human. To appease him, his parents give him the gift of human skin. He learns, too late, that he wears the flesh of a murdered man. The book follows his fight to put an end to melding, no matter the cost.
Sunwielder will be out in the spring, 2014. This one is about time travel, returning to moments in the past where a different choice would have altered the course of one’s life. The sunwield is a medallion that directs the path of the protagonist based on a specific outcome, returning him repeatedly to pivotal decisions. Slowly he figures out what is happening to him.
Yes, the sequel to Myths of the Mirror is also coming in 2014. The Dragon Soul trilogy expands the world to include the islands of the western sea. More dragons, skimmers, sailors, drooms, governors, hunters, and a host of the old favorites. The innocence of the Mirror left behind, the characters must define the role of violence as they confront cruelty in their lives.
CJ: Wow, you are becoming quite prolific. And I am intrigued by each one of those. I can see my reading list is going to grow again. Last question. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
DWP: The easiest question for last. Join a critique group! I can’t stress it enough. I never would have seen this book in print without the supportive and honest feedback of other writers. If you can’t find one, start one. Listen, listen, listen, and then write your heart out.
CJ: I’ll second that. I’ve learned so much from interacting with other writers. Thank you for taking the time to give such thoughtful answers to my questions. Best of luck with your forthcoming publicatons.