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BOOK TITLE:           DEVIL DRAGON

GENRE:      MONSTER-HORROR NOVEL

PUBLISHER:             SEVERED PRESS

RELEASE DATE:     LATE NOVEMBER

Today on Tales From The Scribe, I have author Deb Sheldon as a guest. Deb is dark fiction writer from Melbourne. Her latest book is called Devil Dragon and it looks fantastic! If you are interested in horror, monsters, and of course Australia – then this is the book for you. Give me a message if you would like to review or host an interview with Deb on your blog.

 

From to inspiration to completion: how I wrote Devil Dragon

devil-dragonBack in late 2014, I was making headway into the horror genre after a few years of publishing crime fiction. I had just learned that Kaaron Warren, guest editor of Midnight Echo magazine, had accepted my short story, Perfect Little Stitches, for publication. That sale boosted my confidence tremendously. Perfect Little Stitches had supernatural elements; for my next story, I wanted to feature a real, flesh-and-blood monster set in Australia. But what kind? The obvious subjects – sharks and crocodiles – didn’t interest me.

So I delved into our natural history and explored the Megafauna age. Prehistoric Australia was occupied by huge beasts like something out of a nightmare. Ducks the size of emus, the precursor of the emu three metres tall and weighing over half a tonne. And then the apex predators, chief among them Varanus priscus: a huge Komodo dragon.

Hooked, I decided to write a short story set in modern-day Australia starring a living Varanus priscus.

Except that the more I researched, the more plot possibilities I found. This was by far the most research-intensive tale I’ve ever written. I jumped from one fascinating piece of information to another. The learning curve was so steep as to be almost vertical: I spent weeks learning the ins and outs of hunting, firearms, Komodo dragon biology and behaviour. I discovered that the Australian bush teems with dangerous, feral animals. How could I resist including wild boars in my story, when they can grow to over 200kg and would kill you as soon as look at you? By December 2014, Devil Dragon had asserted itself as a novel.

The plot centres around Dr Erin Harris, a scientist who has an unscientific obsession: to find a living Varanus priscus. Cryptozoologists call it the Devil dragon. This giant Australian reptile became extinct some 12,000 years ago but like Bigfoot or Nessie, there are occasional sightings. Spurred by a credible witness, Erin cobbles together an expedition party consisting of herself, the witness, and his deer-hunting neighbours. They travel into the unexplored heart of a national park. Erin, believing the Devil dragon to be a larger version of the Komodo, is confident she can outwit a specimen. However, the monster that lumbers out of the bush is a savage and unpredictable predator the size of a campervan. Erin must transform herself from genteel university lecturer to die-hard survivalist.

Though I loved every minute of the writing process, creating the Devil dragon itself was the most fun of all. There is scant information on the actual Varanus priscus, so I created my own monstrous version. However, I wanted it to be as realistic as possible within the novel’s fantasy framework. I turned to various experts, including herpetologists, who checked my manuscript for technical accuracy and offered valuable suggestions.

The novel has suspense, action and gore, but it is Erin’s character arc and her relationships with the three members of her expedition that tie the story together. Thematically, Devil Dragon is about intellect versus physicality, ambition versus humiliation, rationality versus fear, and humanity versus the brute force of nature.

Erin will do anything – risk everything – to find a living specimen of the reptile that has been her enduring fixation. She knows that finding the Devil dragon would be more important than the discovery of Archaeopteryx (a dinosaur with feathers), the missing link that bolstered Darwin’s theory of evolution. New species are found all the time – insects and fish, in particular – and no one but experts gives a damn. But the entire planet would go crazy at the discovery of a living, breathing 10-metre killing machine with a mouthful of teeth like butcher knives. Erin wants fame, immortality, to rewrite a chapter of reptile palaeontology – and to put to rest, finally, the ghost of her dead father, a mean drunk who begrudged her any success and gloated at her failures.

But things don’t turn out the way Erin wants or expects…

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Deborah Sheldon is a professional writer from Melbourne, Australia. Her short fiction has appeared in well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, SQ Mag, and Tincture Journal. Her work is also found in various anthologies. Upcoming titles include the crime-noir novellas, Dark Waters and Ronnie and Rita, the horror collection, Perfect Little Stitches and other stories, and the contemporary crime novel, Garland Cove Heist. Other writing credits include television scripts such as Neighbours, stage plays, magazine articles, award-winning medical writing, and non-fiction books for Reed Books and Random House Australia.

Visit Deb at http://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com Sign up for her monthly newsletter and receive a free ebook of literary short fiction, 300 Degree Days and other stories.

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