Youth Fantasy Fiction
Dragon Hollow Trilogy
The Legend of Dragon Hollow (Dragon Hollow 1)
The Secret of the Sword (Dragon Hollow 2)
The Rise of the Dragon King (Dragon Hollow 3)
Donkey Oatie’s Bushel of Fun Cookbook
What sorts of kids will relate best to these books?
The Dragon Hollow Trilogy is youth fantasy fiction. The ideal age range is 10-14 years old, but younger if they are strong readers and older if they enjoy dragon stories.
The first book, The Legend of Dragon Hollow, I modeled after the style of The Hobbit, one of my favorite books. That is, I took a group of characters and sent them on a journey in which they met interesting characters and get in all kinds of situations they have to get out of before they reach their destiny—to fight the dragon.
So, readers, young and old, who enjoy The Hobbit or the Narnia stories would enjoy these books. Dragons are very popular right now, so any young people who are into fantasy and dragons would enjoy these stories.
Are your books more for boys, or girls, or are there elements to appeal to each of them? What are those elements?
The story is about two boys and a girl so I deliberately wrote them to appeal to both boys and girls. The girl has a strong role in the story and becomes an amazing archer and has other important experiences that girls can relate to and admire. The boys will enjoy the sword fights and dragon fights.
Is there an over-all message in the Dragon Hollow books? Or is there a separate message in each book? Is a goal of the books to make reading fun? Motivating kids to like reading? Or something else?
There is not one specific message. Rather, the books convey a variety of moral values without being preachy. Loyalty, honor, courage, and other values are conveyed in different scenes. My first draft of The Legend of Dragon Hollow had a different value portrayed in each chapter, but I don’t know if that remained true in the final version.
One of my goals with these books was to instill a desire in kids to use their imaginations. We live in a technology-based society that is grounded in reality and I don’t want to let this generation grow up without exercising their creativity to imagine new worlds and new possibilities. It’s an entirely different way of thinking.
I also use lots of humor in the books because I want kids to laugh and have fun. None of us laugh enough. And when reading and creativity are associated with fun, kids will have a positive perception of those activities in the future.
Are the characters in the books of any particular race or religion?
No. I created a world that is much like Europe of the Middle Ages in my mind, but I invented the place names and civilizations. I didn’t describe the physical appearance of the characters very much because studies show that readers, especially youth, will envision themselves and people they know in the roles of the story. So I generally shy away from too much physical description of character so as not to shatter any illusions. I think it’s healthy for kids to put themselves in a heroic role. We all want to be the hero (or heroine).
There is no reference to religion. I do have a sorcerer and magician, but they are very benign in what they are able to do. The evil sorcerer is demonstrated as being “the man behind the curtain” with no real power and the magician is seen using herbal remedies and things not very mystical. Mostly he is the wise sage who shows up with vital information.
What sorts of problems do the characters face that young people might relate to their own lives?
The girl gets severely burned by a dragon in The Secret of the Sword and she has to deal with how the scars changed her appearance and how others look at her and treat her different than before. Young girls (and older ones, too, for that matter) are too concerned with their appearances. Coming to grips with who you are apart from your physical appearance is something girls can relate to today.
In the third book, The Rise of the Dragon King, one of the boys has someone bullying him. He patiently endures by walking away from a fight as much as possible. Eventually, he saves the bully’s life in battle and the two become friends. Bullying is a common problem today and it’s important to see alternate ways to handle it, as well as how to treat someone you don’t like. Would you save the life of someone you don’t like? There are plenty of relevant situations in the books that kids will relate to their own lives.
What’s your favorite reader reaction to the books so far?
I initially only planned to publish one story, but one of the first readers was a 12-year-old boy who asked, “Are you going to write more stories? Because I really want to know what happens and I don’t want to make it up in my mind.” That reader response is what prompted me to begin work on the second and third books.
That was the most influential comment from a reader, but the most fun comment was from a girl who drew a picture of herself laughing while reading the books. She wrote, “When I read your books, I started giggling and wiggling; it was so funny. I almost laughed to the moon!” I adored her enthusiasm and creativity. I’m considering framing her card.
Imagine your ideal favorite reader. Tell me about him or her. Why does she or he love the books?
Let’s call this favorite reader “Sam” (a boy or a girl). Sam is 10-14 and either loves to read or is a reluctant reader who will only read if the story is fun and engaging.
Sam enjoys the fantasy stories with sword fights, dragons, and knights. Sam can’t stop laughing at the funny things that happen in the stories. And Sam enjoys looking for the funny hidden literary references to things such as The Three Musket Deer, Dirt Brown and the Seven Giants, and Donkey Oatie. That last one might be above Sam’s head, but Donkey Oatie is a funny character, nonetheless.