Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Guest spot on Liss Thomas's Blog

Recently I was featured on the blog of Liss Thomas - for a fun Author Interview! Go check it out below!

 

LISS THOMAS BLOG

 

Thanks for having me, Liss. It was a lot of fun!

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Can Fantasy Deal With Real Life Issues?

When people think of Fantasy, usually the first thing that comes to mind are swords and sorcery, dragons, monsters, evil empires – you know the usual. In fact, pick up most RPG game set in a Fantasy world pretty rely on this trope to build their story and characters. But here is a question that I’d like to put forward to you all – can Fantasy deal with real life issues? Can you have a story that deals with problems like, for example, family problems? Lost love? Lack of direction in life? Or maybe just something basic like trying to fit in with the in crowd?

 

I believe that the best Fantasy stories aren’t  loved because of how fantastical and magical they are (although that does play a part) but how BELIEVEABLE they are in terms of their story and characters, because it helps us relate to the characters much easier if they go through the same problems as we all do.

 

In actual fact, Fantasy has included a lot of real-life issues in it over the years if you look carefully at them. Take the Harry Potter series for instance. That intercuts the idea of magic and mixes it with the idea of going through school life, and the stresses and challenges it can present. Though I’m not a fan of Harry Potter, I must concede that this is a brilliant idea and one that a lot of children can relate to – the magic element just adds a whiff of imagination and the Voldermort story serves as the main challenge Harry must overcome.

 

Another example of real life issues in a Fantasy context is the Spider-Man movies/comics. That is a coming of age story about a teenager (who is by all accounts a loner and very unpopular) who learns about power and responsibility. But even though he has great abilities that can help him fight villains, he still has his own problems to deal with – also adding to the fact that some people hate Spider-Man, despite the good he does, it’s a real life lesson and shows the reader that sometimes you have to make tough choices for the greater good. And when you add into the mix the amount of people who have died thanks to Spider-Man (Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborne to name a few), the pressures of life can really get to Peter Parker, making for a rather depressing story on occasions!

 

I personally love it when a story (Fantasy, Sci-Fi or otherwise) puts in real drama into the piece and makes the characters more than just the usual archetypes. So many Fantasy stories I’ve read just seem to go with traditional tropes and go with the idea that the characters should only perform their duty within the plot. But by adding in real issues and needs that the everyday human has can certainly do it’s bit to help the audience appreciate and support your characters. I always try and add in some real issues to my Draconica novels and usually my books have an underlining theme to them that is relative to the real world. Trapped on Draconica had an underlining theme of friendship and that no one was above redemption. In future books, I intend to focus on the theme of family and the bond between mother and child – and in a future book it will be a kind of social commentary on the effects of war on the families of the soldiers fighting for it.

 

I’m not saying that stories have to necessarily be “Authors Tracts” (which TV Tropes list as basically an author using a story to put their own belief systems across rather than tell a story), but taking inspiration from real world issues can be a powerful writing tool and give your story a more accessible hook and will entice your readers in. This will help them accept the characters as they are and even become emotionally invested in them. As such, they will suffer the same pains as them and revel in the same joys that they do.

 

A couple more examples I’d like to use to show that Fantasy can be used for real life stories. In Lord of the Rings, the best character is (in my opinion) Sméagol/Gollum. Corrupted by the ring, he is as treacherous as they come, but he is also so sad and tragic a character that we both hate and feel sorry for him at the same time. Gollum can be considered a metaphor for drug abuse, in the sense that he needs “the precious” ring in order to be happy, but at the same time he wants to do good, but keeps slipping into his wicked ways. His character is a mixture of humour, treachery and heart wrenching sadness – all perfectly captured by Andy Serkis in the films. The Hobbit film’s best scene by far is when Bilbo meets Gollum for the first time and I actually remember a few in the audience being moved to tears by the performance. Much like a drug user, he isn’t a bad person per say, but he is forced to do bad things due to his desire to be with the thing he needs the most. He’s not a villain in my eyes, but a victim.

 

One final example I want to use is Robert Baratheon from the A Song of Fire and Ice novels and the Game of Thrones TV series. I actually find Robert Baratheon one of the most interesting and tragic characters in the book that I wish could have got more mileage in the story in some way. Robert is king of the Seven Kingdoms and is generally a good king (despite making some poor choices), but is quite a tragic character that has let himself go considerably. In his youth, he was a strong, handsome man that had a great sense of humour and a knack for battle – but in recent years he has become fat and lazy, often doing little more than eating, getting drunk and screwing women. But behind all this is a sad, tragic man that is still pining for his lost love, the sister of Ned Stark whom he loved from afar and lost during the rebellion that won him the throne. Though he defeated the Mad King and brought peace to the land, he is forever haunted by the fact that he can never been with the woman he loved. It’s a good character trait in the sense that he has to deal with his own problems – whilst at the same time dealing with the stress of running the kingdoms.

 

So, in answer to my earlier questions, yes I do believe that Fantasy can deal with real issues beyond the usual “good and evil” trope and can help create interesting and believable characters for the reasons I’ve listed above. If you need further proof, check out the writings of Mysti Parker – she writes a lot of stuff in a Fantasy setting, but the characters still have real life needs and desires. She has a couple of books out already so be sure to check them out.

 

Hope you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to leave a comment below if you agreed or disagreed with me; or if you have any other examples I might have missed.

 

Thanks.

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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An epiphany...

“Why should I bother?”

 

This is a phrase that I know EVERYONE has said in their life – and certainly I know that many authors have said at one time in their life. Writing can be fun, there’s no doubt about that – but it can also be really depressing at times. Especially if things don’t go your way.

 

I won’t lie to you, there are times when even I get depressed about the way my writing is going. There are times when I see other authors get a huge following and sales and I feel a little bit of jealousy creep up within me. Not that I mean to be spiteful and, in truth, I have complete respect for any author that can gain a strong following and reputation, regardless of genre. But there are times when I think to myself “what are they doing that I’m not?” That being said, I always do my best to promote indie authors wherever I can and will always do that. I really have no right to be jealous of these authors as they are doing what they enjoy doing and I can respect that. But I can get down at times. And recent events have really put a downer on me.

 

Over the summer, I busted my ass off to try and promote my book – deciding I was not gonna sit back and let it go unnoticed. So I plugged my book wherever I could, doing conventions, talks and even blogs. For the first couple of months of summer, I actually did really well, selling tons of paperbacks at conventions, selling more to Waterstones and even doing the talk at my old school. For these months I was buzzing, and when I started writing more stories I felt like I was on top of the world...

 

But then, real life kicked in.

 

For the last couple of months, things have come to a complete standstill. Work commitments, delays with artwork and other things seem to have conspired against me to stop me doing anything creative. Lately, I just haven’t had the motivation to do any writing at all. This also means that I’ve not had time to promote my work as much as I used to, so sales have kinda ground to a stop.

 

It seems that lately I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my book, and with the lack of motivation draining me, I did actually think “you know what, screw it! I’m gonna give up!” And that was something that I NEVER thought I’d say. So I was all ready to pack up my writing and maybe work to getting a normal life.

 

But then, recently, I got a very nice surprise in my email inbox. A mother sent me an email through my website, telling me that she recently brought a paperback copy of Trapped on Draconica for her son, who was into Manga and had down syndrome (she has given me permission to talk about this through further conversation, but out of respect, I will not be mentioning any names). Apparently her son has a very bad turn recently, but since reading this book he’s become a lot better and loves the story. He apparently reads it over and over and really enjoys it – he even asked when the next one is coming out!

 

You know what – if my book can help just one person, then it’s all worth it!

 

But then I look back since I first released Trapped on Draconica and I realise that my book has done more good that maybe I first thought. After all, at my first convention, I gained two huge fans (who helped me get a place at Anime Attacks at Newcastle), at the book club at my old school, one of the pupils said I was her inspiration to become a writer – hell, someone has even put an article of Trapped on Draconica on TV Tropes about it. And when I did the Sponsume campaign for my sequel novel, I got a lot of sponsorship for it, something I never expected to get. So this shows that people DO care about my work.

 

This made me realise that I can NEVER quite writing. Because of those people. It may sound corny, but knowing that there are a few people that genuinely care about my work makes it all worthwhile. I may not have a bestselling novel, or award winning or in the top 100 best kindle sales (and all power to those authors who do), but knowing that there are people who have read my book and become inspired by it does fill me with a sense of accomplishment.

 

I therefore have decided, from today to make a list of three things that I must do.

 

  1. Not to let my petty jealously get in the way and continue to support and promote authors. In fact, maybe I can learn something from those authors and find ways to promote my work further.
  2. Not care about whether my book becomes a bestseller, but just be the best writer that I can be and tell the story the way I want to tell it.
  3. Most importantly – I’m gonna WRITE and keep writing!

 

I’m sure that there are lots of authors that have felt like they’re not making a difference with their work and got depressed now and then. Believe me, I know how it feels. But to any author that feels this way – remember this. Somewhere out there, your work means something to someone – maybe even several people. And if you can reach just those few people, it’s all worth it!

 

Stick with it. It gets better! It really isn't that bad when you look at the whole picture.

 

Thanks for reading guys. Have a great week!

 

Kindest

 

 

Pandragon

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Pandragon Dan wins the Versatile Blogging Award!

Two blogs from me in one day? Well this is a VERY special occasion and I just had to share it with you.

 

 

Imagine my surprise when I checked my emails recently and found out that I had been awarded the Versatile Blogging Award by Read2Review! That’s pretty cool considering I have been a bit lax on the blogging front recently! I don’t know too much about this award – but from what I can gather it’s a pretty cool thing to be given and I thank the guys at Read2Review for awarding me this and making me feel that little bit more loved!

 

But read on, there is more to follow!

 

This lofty-sounding award is basically a mutual admiration society where bloggers recognize their peers for writing quality blogs that touched them in some way. The VBAs honor the blogger rather than specific posts. It’s a chance for bloggers to pat themselves on the back like the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does with the Oscars. Until someone starts giving out Blogscars, the VBAs will have to suffice.

 

What are the criteria, or rather the inclusion in the touch-points of “speech” you’ll want to make upon receiving such an award? Here they are:

 

If you are nominated, then you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award! It’s simple! Take a few moments to FEEL the warmth of the bestowed “congratulations!” Then think of 7 things to tell/share/reveal about yourself.

 

So, as a special exclusive, here are SEVEN things you may or may not know about me, Pandragon Dan!

 

  1. Aside from writing, Dan also loves playing music. He plays guitar in a band called The Self Titled , which is a heavy rock/metal band that is looking to make it big one day!
  2. Dan loves heavy metal – his favourite band of all time is Dream Theater and he often listens to them when writing.
  3. Dan is a huge lover of cats and often tries to write at least one cat into his story. He has a pet cat called Whispa – and he has created a character based on her in his up and coming novel Legacy of the Dragonkin.
  4. Even though he likes to use Manga style illustrations – he isn’t a huge reader of Manga, although he loves it for it’s over the top style and crazy nature. His favourite Manga is currently Full Metal Alchemist.
  5. He is a huge fan of Red Dwarf – and even met Robert Llewelyn (the actor that played Kryten) at a book signing event in 2008. (I'm the one on the left).
  6. His mum used to be a dance teacher. And her most famous pupil was, a very young, Orlando Bloom. (And before any of you ask, no I haven’t met him personally).
  7. Once, on holiday in Egypt, he was mistaken for English footballer Steven Gerrard by a woman.

 

Next, thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy. Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — after all, let other peeps know about a great stopping place on the web!

 

Thank you so much Kate! It’s made my day! See: Read2Review #HIGHLYrecommended!

 

Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.

 

For this, I’m picking the top fifteen bloggers/writers that I have either had the pleasure of reviewing their book, been part of a guest post/blog tour with them, or guys that I think their website/blog is just plain awesome and deserves a look!

 

My 15 nominees/winners are (in no particular order):

 

  1. Deanna Kipling - www.dekenyon.com
  2. Ryan Schneider - AuthorRyanSchneider.blogspot.com
  3. Pageturner Book Tours - http://pageturnerbooktours.blogspot.co.uk/
  4. Andrez Bergen - http://iffybizness.blogspot.co.uk/
  5. Mysti Parker - http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/
  6. Avery Olive - www.averyolive.blogspot.com
  7. Benjamin X Wretlind - http://www.bxwretlind.com/
  8. Sheenah Freitas - http://sheenahfreitas.com/
  9. Thomas Knight - http://thomasaknight.com/
  10. Sasha Summers - http://sashasummers.com/
  11. Michelle Horst - http://michellehorstauthor.wordpress.com/
  12. The Writing World - http://raebethmcgeeswriting.blogspot.co.uk/
  13. Magda M Olchawska - http://www.magdaolchawska.com/
  14. Dr Rhia - http://dr-rhia.com/
  15. Ciara Ballintyne - http://www.fantasyblog.ciaraballintyne.com/

 

 

Regards

Pandragon

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Please help Sponsor my Crowdfunding Campaign - Legacy of the Dragonkin

Taking a week off...

Hi guys. Just to let you all know that, I've decided to take a break from doing my blog this week. Reason being is that I have a lot of last minute preparations to do before Anime Attacks this weekend and I also have a gig to prepare for on Thursday with my band. Therefore, I decided to take a week off from updating my blog.

 

For those of you based in the North of England, please pop down to Anime Attacks at the Gateshead Library (a huge thanks to Vicky and Jessica Massingham for getting me this), where I'll be doing a little talk on my book, Trapped on Draconica and even selling a few copies of it as well during the day! Let's hope the weather doesn't spoil our fun!

 

 

Hopefully should be a great weekend! I'm personally looking forward to it and am grateful for the team at Anime Attacks for having me.

 

I'll let you know how it goes next week. Take care guys, see you all in a week!

 

 

Regards

Pandragon

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Please help Sponsor my Crowdfunding Campaign - Legacy of the Dragonkin

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