Host Jean: I want to welcome Author Sean Poindexter to Author Open Mic today. I’m so excited to have him here, because he’s going to talk about DRAGONS. Not only is he going to talk about another of my favorite myths, he is going to give us a behind the scenes making of the symbol that graces his cover. Please note the beautiful artwork above, created by Sean’s talented friend, Gennifer Bone. TO SEE MORE, visit her deviant art profile here: http://razielart.deviantart.com/
Before I hand Sean the MIC, I’d like to tell you a little about him….
Sean graduated from Missouri Southern State University (Joplin, MO) in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a minor in Philosophy. He received a Master of Science in Justice Studies from Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, Kansas) in 2005. For three years he performed investigations for the Missouri Department of Health into allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of disabled adults. His literary influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, Robert E. Howard, George R.R. Martin and R.A. Salvatore. Sean’s background in sociology, criminology, and philosophy are heavy influences on his work, as well as his experience as a social service worker (former) for the State of Missouri.
Sean has been writing for as long as he’s been able to read, and interested in fantasy even before that. His mother used to read him Norse mythology as bedtime stories, and he’s never quite outgrown his fascination with all things mystical and amazing. In addition to reading fantasy and science fiction, he enjoys movies (all kinds) and comic books. Other hobbies include fantasy role-playing games, riffing bad movies with his friends, and collecting firearms. He is also very active on Twitter. He enjoys many kinds of music, but is most fond of harder edged industrial and electronic-fused gothic music. He lives in Joplin with his wife Amanda and their three cats Sif, Orion and Thor.
So now that we know a little about Sean, let me hand over the MIC and let the dragon speak begin…. It’s all yours, Sean.
Sean: Before I explain why I decided on this symbol, let me make a few things clear. I am NOT a Sumerologist, nor do I claim to be an expert on that (or any) ancient culture. Likewise, I know next to nothing about Cuneiform. I don’t know how to read it, I never took a college level course on it, nor do I know anyone who has. I do have a book about Cuneiform, but I’ve never read it. It just sits on my bookshelf and makes me look smarter. The bulk of my knowledge on the subject, as well as the source of the symbol above, comes from the Internet. And, like many things on the Internet, may be correct or wildly inaccurate. None of this really matters: what does is that the symbol looks cool.
Also, I’m not a graphic artist. It took me like three hours to make that damn thing. Yeah…I’m not kidding. I’m terrible at this stuff. But I tried explaining to my more artistic friends what I wanted but they couldn’t seem to translate my imaginings to paper. I blame myself, really. But it’s okay now, because I have created the symbol. With Fotoflexer.
This symbol is designed from the ancient cuneiform symbol for Tiamat, though only partially. Tiamat is expressed in three characters: That’s the biggest picture of that I could find anywhere. Again, it may be completely inaccurate, so I don’t want any Cuneiform experts or Sumerologists (all nine of them) sending me hate mail about how I don’t know anything about anything. I KNOW. I’m a fantasy writer. I’m literally making this stuff up as I go.
From the human Cuneiform word for Tiamat, my symbol is the first half of the third symbol and the second half of the first. What does it actually mean? Probably nothing. But it looks cool. And it makes sense that the dragons would write this way. The idea is that the dragons used a complicated form of language that humans later mimicked to create Cuneiform. As such, any dragon writing found lying about would generally be assumed by archeologists to be Cuneiform, rather than the still-living ancient language of dragons. The wedge-shaped pieces of the symbols are indicative of the way dragons would write: by dragging their claws over things. The wide portion of the edge is called the top, the length is the stem and the tip is called the point. The cross symbol on the right has indentations at the top because the dragon drew this portion of the word with two reversed claw swipe: top down and then left to right. Dragon claws tend to angle in, like eagle talons. The crescent portion is drawn with a series of forward-angled claw motions, so the wedges are filled at their top. Dragons are highly reverent of this symbol, and will generally consider it an insult if a human attempts to draw it and screws it up.
This symbol is used in the book. One dragon uses it, as well as a few others, as a signal to another dragon. The symbol is very important to dragons. The dragons don’t exactly worship Tiamat, but they do see her as the progenitor of their race. They also believe that all dragons stand in judgement of her, before and after their deaths. When fortune favors a dragon, they believe that Tiamat has smiled upon them. When it doesn’t, they believe she has turned her eyes from them in shame. Dragons are well aware that humans have incorporated their progenitor into their ancient faith. Most of them find this amusing, at best. Knowledge of Tiamat’s existence is believed to have passed to human from a prehistoric time in which dragons enslaved humans and, in some cases, forced them to worship them as gods. These are referred to by dragons as the Old Ways. When dragons abandoned the Old Ways and decided to live among humans, many of their influences remained in human culture, including Tiamat. However, it is telling that early humans considered Tiamat a demonic goddess, which is likely due to the adversarial relationship their ancestors had with power-hungry dragons during their domination of the Earth. Tiamat is not “evil” though she isn’t terribly concerned with the affairs of humans and, like most dragons, may seem callous by negligence.
A little something about the dragon language —
Dragon language is complicated and impossible to understand by most other beings. Dragon vocal chords are exceptional organs, capable of producing multiple sounds simultaneously, many of which are imperceptible to the ears of lesser races. To creatures, two dragons conversing sound more like two wild animals roaring, hissing and snarling. However, dragons are also capable of talking in human languages while in dragon form, despite not having humanoid mouths. In these instances, the dragon’s powerful vocal chords replicate the intricacies of human speech. The only difficulty present is the depth by which these vocalizations occur inside the dragon’s mouth and throat. This results in a cavernous reverberation when a dragon speaks a human language in its natural form. Otherwise, they are capable of mimicking almost any voice or sound they’ve heard, but prefer to affect a copy of whatever voice they use while in human form. Conversely, while a dragon in human form is capable of understanding draconic speech, it is not capable of speaking it.
Dragon writing is a combination of pictographic and symbolic letters, highly complicated with different shapes representing specific sound clusters. Likewise, dragon writing is not linear. Dragons construct sentences out of a complicated array of symbols that change meaning depending on their orientation to and relative size against other symbols in the same cluster. The actual size of the whole arrangement doesn’t matter, so long as the symbols are of the same proportion to one another. So, a sentiment expressed in dragon would mean the same thing whether it was drawn on a 5 ft. x 5 ft. square of stone, or etched into the side of a mountain. All that matters is that the correct symbols are in the right place, and to the appropriate scale. Longer thoughts and expressions are similarly sized and spaced, making Dragon language stupidly complicated to understand…unless you’re a dragon. Humans can replicate this, but are far less precise and more likely to screw it up. Computers have made this somewhat easier for humans, as they have powerful processors capable of managing the exacting attention to detail required to successfully communicate in Dragon. However, humans very rarely have anything of interest to say to dragons so it’s a moot point.
Host Jean: This is so fascinating. Thank you for sharing. So, let’s shift gears and focus on the content of your book.
Dragons have pervaded various cultures for centuries. Can you tell us a little about your dragons and the mythos your book is centered around?
Sean: Dragons are creatures of almost godlike power. While they are far from omnipotent, they are still awe-inspiring enough that they’ve left an indelible impression on human culture. I’ve tried to use as many different mythos and beliefs and combine them into a proto-mythos from which human traditions and beliefs would stem. The reference to Tiamat in the title of the book is just one of many connections to beliefs in human antiquity that has survived the thousands of years since dragons stopped interacting with them.
Host Jean: You mention vampires in your back cover blurb. Can you paint a picture of the world of paranormal creatures you have created for your book? What inspired you to mix vampires and dragons?
Sean: I wanted to create an entire shadow world under the surface, with a veneer similar to the one in which we actually live. The Shadow of Tiamat makes reference to other paranormal/supernatural beings, but they don’t begin to arrive until the next book. The struggles between order and chaos, love and fear, good and evil, light and darkness, beauty and destruction are major themes in my writing; all creatures, including humans, have a part in these struggles. I saw the vampires as a stark contrast to the dragons. Where the dragons are generally solitary, self-sufficient and noble, the vampires are predatory, parasitic and anarchic. Also, I really wanted to write a fight between a dragon and a vampire. I know it isn’t really a very fair matchup but…well, I just wanted to make it happen.
Host Jean: Garrett is disguised as a human. What challenges did you have transitioning him to his dragon form and back?
Sean: I decided the best way to handle this would be to just make it happen. The dragons generally only get one human form, though some (like Aoni’a) can take other forms as well. When Garrett changes from a human to a dragon, his clothes are destroyed unless he takes them off first, and are gone when he changes back. The transformation is almost instantaneous, there isn’t a “metamorphosis” like with other shapeshifters. The best way I can describe it is that it isn’t as much a biological transformation as it is molecular. Dragons are living conduits for elemental powers, and they change from human to dragon form by manipulating their own atomic structure. They don’t really understand how this works, they just know it does. There isn’t anything in human science that can explain it. Some writers of fantasy take the view that sorcery, magic and the supernatural are really just science that humans haven’t discovered yet; like showing gunpowder to a caveman. I don’t use that method. The supernatural is wholly different and disconnected from physics and the “natural” order of the universe. Things like thermodynamics, the conservation of mass etc. don’t apply.
Host Jean: Tells us a little about Garrett and Meg.
Sean: Garrett and Meg are meant to be reluctant representatives of their respective worlds. Meg is the natural world that we all know; Garrett brings with him a world of unknowable power and ancient secrets. Their relationship isn’t only significant to them personally, but shows how the two worlds that have been kept separate for so long will begin to interweave. As Garrett’s world spills into Meg’s life, so too does her world invade Garrett’s. As a result, both characters undergo great changes, awakening parts of themselves that they never knew existed.
When I created Meg, I didn’t want to use the old model of the “perfect” woman. Meg isn’t perfect. She is intelligent and independent, but has some issues. On the other hand, she isn’t deeply flawed or unbalanced. She’s a remarkable person, but her exceptional nature isn’t immediately apparent. She is someone I wanted the readers to want to get to know, rather than just reading a description of her and thinking “ah, she’s one of those characters.”
Garrett, on the other hand, is immediately noticeable. Dragons are vain creatures, though they tend to carry it well. As in, true vanity doesn’t need constant reminders of how great it is. Because of this, dragons tend to be exceedingly beautiful in their human forms, but most of the time they aren’t fully aware of how beautiful they really are. Garrett is even less aware of it than most dragons because he’s not very social. He admires humans, though until he meets Meg he hasn’t really had any desire to interact with them personally.
It was an interesting dynamic, I think, that brought Meg and Garrett together. I had to really think about what it would take to make two people with these personalities and traits attracted to one another. There would have to be something exceptional about the other that others would have missed or ignored. Meg and Garrett needed to see in the other person something they always needed but had never missed or looked for. It’s a bit of a mystery, really. One that isn’t completely resolved in the first novel.
Host Jean: What comes next in the The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles?
Sean: Crescent Moon Press has offered (and I have accepted) a contract for the second book in the series, The Will of the Darkest One. I have also signed a contract with them for the first book in a “spin-off” series focused around one of the supporting characters from The Shadow of Tiamat. This series is darker, more horror/mystery than fantasy, though fantasy elements are present. Garrett even makes an appearance briefly.
Host Jean: Do you have anything you want to share with readers? (Excerpts, trailers, hero/heroine bios)
Social media Links/webpage
Official Webpage – http://www.seanpoindexter.com/
Blog: King of the Dragons – http://seanpoindexter.blogspot.com/
Twitter – http://twitter.com/seanpoindexter
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/sean_poindexter
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006J12ZRA
Where to get the book –
Paperback from Amazon: http://amzn.to/tiamat-ppb
Paperback from B&N: http://bit.ly/voMy5Z
Kindle from Amazon: http://amzn.to/tiamat-kindle
Nook from B&N: http://bit.ly/tiamat-nook
Other ebook formats: http://bit.ly/utxfuB
Paperback from Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/rMQ7fi
“The author not only gave us strong and resourceful characters that were both smart and funny, but the storyline as well ebbed and flowed to keep the reader involved and entangled throughout…and its twist ending left me wanting the next installment right away!” “4 1/2 Tombstones out of 5!” — Bitten By Books Reviews
“I walked into this book expecting a romance. I soon realized that this is a gritty, smart fantasy written by a no-holds barred author. If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s downright fiery.” 5 stars – Goodreads Author and Reviewer Agnes Jayne, author of The Problem with Power
“Fantastic!!! I was completely blown away.Intense imagery and a compelling plot has put this high on my must read list. I can’t wait to see what Sean Poindexter comes up with next. Do yourself a favor and buy this book today!!!” 5 stars — Goodreads Author and Reviewer Brian D Anderson, author of The Godling Chronicles: The Sword of Truth.
“The Shadow of Tiamat is one of the most original pieces of work I have read in awhile.With the way most books are now, I expected a generic, already been done, revamped story of dragons. Nope, this book provides a truly one of a kind take on these beings. The only thing better than the characters in this story is the action that takes place. I found it very difficult to pick a favorite part in this story. I’m waiting in anticipation for the next one. Come on Book 2!!!! I’m so excited!!!” 5 stars — Amazon Reviewer stardustgalaxy