Now how could I, Ms. Dragons and Whimsy, enter into a book tour with the absolutely lovely L.L. MacRae and not ask her to talk to us about dragons?! Dragons are very much her “thing” and so I leapt at the chance just to hear her wax lyrical about the magical dinosaurs of the skies. So read on! And be sure to check out Moroda by L.L. MacRae and enter into Escapist’s giveaway to win an ebook copy for yourself at the end of the post.
Dragons are kind of my favourite thing.
Even my business cards include the tagline: She writes about dragons, mostly.
To me, they are the epitome of fantasy, and fantasy is the epitome of escapism. Escapism is why I read (and play video games), so I am drawn to dragons like a moth to flame!
There’s something so utterly mind-blowing about them that I can’t help but be captivated. Who wouldn’t love a huge, fire-breathing reptile that can also fly? Especially if it’s on your side!
Honestly, I can’t remember not being obsessed with all things draconic, as I was inspired when I was pretty young and impressionable.
I watched the original 1993 Jurassic Park when I was about four or five years old. Although various parts terrified me at the time (and I left the cinema crying), it opened my mind to these awe-inspiring creatures that didn’t exist (anymore).
Despite the nightmares, dinosaurs were (and remain) one of my favourite things.
When I was seven years old, I watched the 1996 film Dragonheart, and vividly remember leaving the cinema in floods of tears. This time, it wasn’t fear, it was…love? Draco (the name of the dragon in the film) had a monumental impact on me—appearing as a powerful, mysterious, wise, mythological creature. It showed me that dragons could be more than “animals.” That they could be a mentor (even a parental figure in some way) as well as an ally.
The CGI also made him look pretty realistic, rather than cartoonish or silly, and from that point on, I imagined seeing dragons flying alongside the car whenever we were driving somewhere. Even to this day, when I’m out for a walk in the countryside, or visiting anywhere with particularly dramatic scenery (cliffs/mountains/forests/rolling hills etc.), I default to “seeing” dragons there. Different types for different habitats, of course—my imagination runs wild!
I also remember reading the 2003 book Dragonology by Dugald Steer cover to cover, even learning the “draconic” runic written language. (I’m 99% sure they used the same runes in the How To Train Your Dragon films!)
And when I was eight years old, I saw Bahamut in the 1997 video game Final Fantasy VII. A dragon you could summon to aid you in battle? That annihilated almost any enemy? The way it descended from the clouds, the roar it had, and its Mega Flare attack? Absolutely iconic.
I loved the Final Fantasy IX version of Bahamut too, where he also had the title: King of Dragons. Beyond awesome.
I can’t tell you how many times I wished they were real!
Seeing these dragons so young fundamentally changed me, in all probability. The way I thought about dragons, fantasy, and stories, had been set on a path from which there was no turning back.
I played with countless dinosaur toys/figurines growing up. As a shy, introverted kid—and growing up an only child—my imagination was my greatest playmate, so I would often construct these fantastical worlds for all sorts of creatures to play and live in. I’d spend hours upon hours kneeling on my scratchy bedroom carpet enacting sweeping narratives with a plethora of small dinosaur figures (or cars, my other great passion—though that came later).
There was a lot of instability in my childhood, and a lot of violence and fear. So my imaginary worlds with dinosaurs and dragons were my perfect escape. Nothing could hurt me if I was with a fire-breathing dragon! I could fly away on the back of a dragon and explore a floating city, magical palaces, ice kingdoms, or sky worlds. Whatever I could dream up.
It was more than a childhood obsession. It was a coping method. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.
But, regardless of the reasons, it was pretty clear—I loved dinosaurs.
And I loved the more epic version of them: dragons.
Through my childhood, I learned they could be something strong, something you wouldn’t want to cross. But also they could be kind and wise. Or funny. They could explore worlds in a way I never could. Whether magical beasts, forces of nature, or apex predators, there was something so intangible and breathtaking about them that my love and obsession grew.
By the time I started turning my imaginary stories from figurines to pen and paper, I already had my go-to ideas. Fantasy, always. And dragons.
All my stories include dragons in some way or another. Usually pretty prominently! It was no different with Moroda, my debut novel.
Moroda was originally published in 2017, and republished as a second edition in 2022—over one million words later.
I had the original idea for the story when I was about sixteen, and wanted to have “the most epic dragon hunt ever.” That was pretty much the concept that the story was built around, and I think early drafts had something to do with finding a rare dragon egg? Of course, I am never a fan of dragons painted as one-dimensional villains that exist only to be killed, so my dragon hunt was more of an “asking for help” rather than an epic battle to the death.
I used to take part pretty consistently in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which tasks people to write 50,000 words of a novel in November. It’s a challenge, but a lot of fun, and there’s a great community around it.
In 2014, I wrote what would become the first draft of Moroda for NaNo, and kept writing until April 2015 when I reached “the end.” After that, it was another couple of years tweaking and editing before I published it.
I didn’t really know what I was doing back then, and mostly wrote about things I liked: sky pirates, airships, and dragons. That’s probably why there’s a strong flavour of Final Fantasy in my debut novel, and if you enjoyed the series (IX in particular), you’ll probably enjoy Moroda.
In Linaria, dragons are a natural part of the ecosystem, like any other animal. However, they are worshipped as gods in certain parts of the world given their strength and innate magic. Inside each dragon’s chest is a stone, sometimes called a crystal, which is responsible for their fire. Magical in nature, it is said to come from the lifeblood of the world itself, linking all dragons to each other and to Linaria.
It also means that dragons are the source of one branch of magic (there are others), and in the mage cities, they have developed magic systems which tap into this. It’s touched on in the first book, but explored in more detail in later books—particularly from book three and beyond.
Though not immortal, some individual dragons can live for many hundreds of years. An elder dragon, often referred to by the honorific, Archon, is also able to communicate with people through speech. And the oldest and most powerful type of dragon is known as a Sevastos.
I absolutely adore the “older they are the bigger they are” trope, so we have very young, hatchling dragons that can fit in the palm of your hand, all the way up to the enormous Sevastos whose wings blot out the sky.
And yes, there is a small dragon side character/companion! This character appears from book two, however. My blue dragon mascot that’s on a lot of my social media, business cards etc. is also based on that dragon, so it’s quite important to me!
I really wanted the dragons in the World of Linaria series to have a presence—both in a physical and magical sense. They’re quite aloof, and mostly not bothered by people (except when their actions affect dragons). It adds to their air of mystery, and hopefully makes them seem all the more incredible when we do meet various dragons throughout the story.
Another small detail, but something I loved and wanted to include, was the relationship between dragons and phoenixes. In Linaria, phoenixes often follow dragons or nest near their lairs. So if you’re on an airship and happen to notice a phoenix or two, you’ll know a dragon won’t be far behind…
My own passion for dragons probably comes through clearly in the pages of my books, and it is my hope that some of this is passed on to whoever reads my stories.
Dragons have been done in all sorts of media for centuries, and it is difficult to come up with any “new” or “original” takes on them. I haven’t tried to reinvent the draconic wheel by any means, but I hope to bring a fresh take on these fabulous mythological creatures, and—at least for some people—make them a little more real.
Moroda by L.L. MacRae
Moroda is the first book in L.L. MacRae’s epic fantasy series, The World Of Linaria.
It’s a six-book saga following a group of characters as war rages across their world. With pirates and soldiers, smiths and princes, Linaria is a vibrant land with a deeply unsettled past and an equally uncertain future.
In Linaria, dragons are revered as gods.
Airships command the skies.
And across the land, war is brewing.
Devastated by their father’s death, Moroda and her sister struggle to make ends meet. Things go from bad to worse when a rogue dragon destroys their city.
Fleeing on a sky pirate’s airship to escape the chaos, the sisters find themselves penned in by untrustworthy companions, a bloodthirsty warlord, and dragons on the rampage.
For Moroda, who would do anything to protect her sister, nowhere is safe. Not even the sky.
The balance of power in Linaria is tipping. Can one woman make a difference?
If you love dragons, airships, and sky pirates, you’ll love discovering THE WORLD OF LINARIA.
See Also: Do Not Meddle in Dragon Affairs • With Great Power • (Trying to) Do the Right Thing
Meet the Author
Lauren is a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure. Her books usually contain dragons, eclectic characters, and are typically fun and hopeful.
She lives in a tiny village in the UK, has a degree in Psychology, and was a professional copywriter before going full-time as an author—swapping corporate copy for magic and dragons!
She has previously published under the name L.L. McNeil.
Prize: An eBook Copy of Moroda!
Starts: June 27, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: July 3, 2022 at 11:59pm EST