[Guest Post] C.J. Hill on Using Dragons as Bad Guys
CJ Hill is a pen name for a YA author who is best known for writing romantic comedies. (Slayers will be her 18th published book.) Her writing has shifted away from the romantic comedy genre, so her editor thought a pen name would be a good idea. (New books will include: dangerous dragons, time travel to dystopian worlds, and flesh-eating beetles.) Since the publisher refused to let her have the pseudonym : The Artist Formerly Referred to as Princess, she chose a name to honor her mother. CJ Hill was her mother’s pen name, or at least it would have been if her mother had published. You can learn more about CJ Hill at her website.
It’s not that I don’t like the friendly, loyal dragons from Eragon and the Anne McCaffrey series. If I was allowed to have one mythical character as a sidekick it would be a dragon. Sure, Pegasus would be easier to ride, and all of those cute Disney animal sidekicks could belt out cheerful tunes when the moment called for it, but who would you want on your side in a fight? Right, the dragon.
So I totally get authors who write about good, helpful, dragons. There are two main
reasons I didn’t. First, I have seen what dragons look like. (Okay, not really. This isn’t
one of those alien abduction stories–although, come to think of it, that is exactly what all of those alien abduction stories need to spiff them up: a dragon or two.) What I mean is: I’ve seen drawings, paintings, statues, and coat-of-arms depicting dragons. This is generally what they look like:
Now I ask you, do these dragons look like they want to be your friend? No, they
don’t. They look like they eat large animals. And probably the kind of animals they like best are the slow ones that God didn’t see fit to provide with horns or claws or anything that would prevent them from being easily gobbled up. Which means you.
This is probably a test that they should administer in schools to emphasize this point:
Which of the following animals would make a good pet?
Okay, you get my point.
The second reason I didn’t make my dragons nice, people-loving animals was that I
liked the symbolism of fighting dragons. Just like Don Quixote, sometimes we have to
pick up our swords and fight the dragons in our lives. Sometimes those dragons might
only be windmills in disguise, but other times they’re big and fierce and can roast us like
How does a person find the courage to face those sorts of dragons? When we come across dragon-sized problems, how many of us stick around to fight it out instead of taking off for safer ground? I admit that part of the emotion behind this novel came from situations where I felt like I was facing dragons (large or small) and the people who were supposed to help, ditched the effort after the first flame.
My Slayers know what it’s like to have comrades desert them. Book two and three will
probably not get much better for my teen superheroes.
That said, I doubt I’ll have the Slayers kill off all the dragons in my fictional world. Sure,
they’re really dangerous (see pictures if you’ve already forgotten this fact) but they’re
dragons. Dragons. And we’ve got to keep some of those around.
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