When The Last Dragon Chronicles came to an end there was a great deal of speculation about what I might do next. The Chronicles had been extremely popular (they still are) and had graced the New York Times bestseller lists. No wonder people were interested to see where Jay and I would go after that. At first, I was keen to move away from dragons. They had occupied a good twelve years of my writing life and effectively blown all other projects out of my study window. It was Jay who persuaded me to continue with them. I’d vaguely mentioned to her at some point that it would be interesting to write a novel from a dragon’s point of view. A ‘proper’ dragon this time, i.e. not a clay one. Over the years, kids had often sent me manuscripts, and in their stories the dragons always talked. So many people love dragons, I thought. But how would those people react if a bunch of fire-breathing monsters suddenly descended on the planet? What would it be like to live in a world dominated by a powerful species like that? Would it even be possible to share an ecosystem with them? And would the dragons be dinosaur-dumb? Or highly intelligent? Would they, indeed, be ‘monsters’ at all? This was fascinating stuff. But, clearly, to do such a story justice I would have to go deep into dragon culture, examine their rituals, and invent a unique world for them. This was verging on high fantasy, something neither of us had ever tackled before. The Chronicles obviously had their fantasy elements, but those books were firmly rooted in human society. Here, it would be the other way round.
I wasn’t sure I could do it. Jay disagreed. She really fought for the project. So we took a few months out and discussed it in depth until we had a working structure. Basically, we would plot a story about a colony of dragon ‘explorers’ (a ‘Wearle’) attempting to lay claim to a mountain range on an Earth-like planet (‘Erth’) where they would meet unexpected resistance from an intelligent species who inhabited the planet (a human tribe we named the ‘Hom’). The Hom’s gritty defence of their homeland would test the dragons to the limit, eventually leading to fatal clashes that would have profound effects for both societies.
It was ambitious, but I eventually plucked up the courage to go to the computer and write the first few thousand words of book one, The Wearle. Wow. It was like a tap had been turned on. The story just poured out. Within days, I’d come up with another interesting idea. I said to Jay, “What if this Wearle of dragons have come to Erth in search of an earlier colony that have apparently disappeared?” That ramped up the intrigue right away, because then we had to work out why the first colony had disappeared, and what the second colony would need to do to avoid suffering the same fate. Like most writers, I love to discover unexpected twists as I go along, and The Wearle had lots of them.
Of course, the dragons believe that the Hom are to blame, and the Hom hate the dragons for driving them out of the mountains. So there was always plenty of room for conflict, an essential element in any adventure story. But the mystery of what happened to those first ‘Erth’ dragons runs a lot deeper (and darker) than a few skirmishes between the two sides. It has its roots way back in the dragons’ social order, where seeds of unrest have been growing for centuries. Want to know more? Great! Read the series! Each book is split into sections, some told entirely from the dragons’ point of view, and some from a Hom boy’s point of view. Over the course of the three books you’ll encounter huge acts of courage, bloodshed, betrayal, love and much, much more. Like the Chronicles, the series is aimed at the 10-14 age group, but they are read by dragon fans older and younger. My favourite is the last one, The New Age, which has a few nods to The Last Dragon Chronicles. Will I ever write more Erth Dragons? No. I’m satisfied that we achieved what we wanted to with these three. If you like your dragons big and bold, this is the series for you.