The Big Idea: Stephen Deas

When is a dragon not a dragon? The answer is: almost never, because, dude, look at them. They’re totally dragons. But as Stephen Deas found when writing The Order of the Scales, the third book in The Memory of Flames, when you’re writing about dragons, you’re not always necessarily writing about the dragons themselves — or at the very least, not writing just about the dragons. Deas can explain it better than I can, so it’s a good thing he’s here to clarify. And he’s brought art!

Dragons come in all sorts of flavours these days, big ones and small ones, cute and, er, less cute, but they’ve been haunting our myths for a very long time, and for nearly all of that time, they’ve not been our friends or our pets or our flying steeds – they’ve been monsters. A bit of snake, a bit of crocodile, a bit of bird of prey, a bit of most of the things that used to eat us, or eat our children back in the days before we invented iPads. Dragons, for most of their history, have been metaphors for all the things we’re meant to fear. These dragons are my dragons, too. Old-fashioned burn-your-town-and-eat-your-princesses dragons. Possibly not in that order. A fire-breathing Airbus with fangs and fire and a bad attitude.

Here’s a little cartoon I drew for the second book, King of the Crags. Roughly speaking, it was meant to be a synopsis (and if the dragon looks reasonable, that’s because it used the cover art[1] for The Black Mausoleum as a guide; and if the way the people are done looks familiar, that’s probably because you read Order of the Stick too. No, I cannot draw for shit).

A year later, I found myself using the same cartoon for the US debt ceiling debacle which, from here, looked like the most spectacular piece of short-sighted political fuck-wittery I have been privileged to witness. Way to have a worse credit rating than France[2] for NO GOOD REASON AT ALL.

Back in 2007 when I started to write the Memory of Flames series, my dragons were a metaphor for my own personal end-of-the-world doom. It probably isn’t yours and I’m not going to trouble you with it, but it had nothing to do with banks or debts or the other things we all gnash our teeth about nowadays. But as time goes by, I see that what I was writing about wasn’t the big scary monsters themselves, but the willingness of our leaders play to chicken with them. So if you fancy fantasising about some short-sighted, self-serving, power-wrangling narcissists facing the comeuppance they so richly deserve, come on in, because this one’s for you. It’s the third book of three, the dragons are off their leash and they’re pissed.

[1] Art By Stephen Youll, who does the artwork for all the US Memory of Flames covers.

[2] Briefly. Cultural note: When in England, you can rarely go wrong with bad-mouthing the French. The same goes the other way. We do love each other, really.


A Memory of Flames III: The Order of the Scales: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Read the author’s blog. Follow him on Twitter.

9 Comments on “The Big Idea: Stephen Deas”

  1. The Adamantine Palace popped up on my to-read list while I was knee-deep in Grad School (when it featured in a Big Idea here), so I still haven’t read it, but it still sounds like this’ll be right up my alley once I can finally catch up on that reading list.

  2. I must be an easy sell. Stephen confirming that the hordes of dragons on the cover were there for a reason was all that was needed to sell me.

  3. If you ride with dragons, you have to ask: am I the pilot or am I really just the in-flight entertainment and snack?

    Thanks to John for letting me rant.

  4. I’m a serious lover of dragons. Whether they’re hoarding treasure, burning villages, personal taxis/war machines (with the help of potions) or helping young lads become legendary Riders. I saw the first book in the “new sci-fi” section of Borders and carried it around the store with me for about an hour before making a decision that would not leave me with any regrets. I finished it in a couple days and was immediately ready for the second installment. It was like The Tudors meets dragons from hell! Awesome series! I can’t wait to start The Thieftakers Apprentice :)

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