A while back, I had the pleasure of reading a friend's first novel, what I would call a different kind of dragon tale: Dragon's Treasure by Maya Starling. If you're like me, you get tired of reading the same story over and over again, with just the names and maybe the setting changed. Well, this one is different, for sure. A princess who can bloody well rescue herself. A prince you'd rather not meet alone in the dark woods if you can help it. A dragon who isn't the bad guy, and who has a great secret bound up in a century-old curse. Good stuff.
Now I have the pleasure of announcing the publication of the sequel to Dragon's Treasure: Dragon's Prize.
Maya was generous enough to answer some questions for me about her writing in general and the Dragons Awaken books in particular:
How did you begin writing? I began writing in 2012, prompted by a Wattpad author friend. I was reading a lot, escaping the everyday depression of unemployment, and I started suggesting some edits for a Wattpad author. We soon became friends, and I became her Wattpad first round editor. She then encouraged me to try write something as well, and in the end, it became a way for me to fight off depression.
Was it something you intended to do or was it by accident, so to speak? I started writing by accident. I never thought I would become a writer someday, because I was a really late bloomer when it came to reading as well. But, as I learned, it’s never too late for anything if you put your mind to it.
What are your favorite books? This could be a really long list, so here are a few I have been suggesting recently: Sharing Knife Trilogy by L.M.Bujold Moirin Trilogy by Jacqueling Carey Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky After the Golden Age and Discord’s Apple by Carrie Vaughn Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrless Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
Which authors and stories inspire you the most, both in your daily life and in your writing? It would have to be L.M.Bujold. Her Sharing Knife Trilogy inspired me to write, but there are generally many authors who provide inspiration and hope for my writing.
What do you think makes a book worth reading? Believable characters, characters that make you involved in their story, a unique story or at least a twist on an existing trope. I am mostly all about the characters, and character driven stories.
What do you think is the hardest thing about writing? From my experience, the challenges depended on where I am and what was currently happening in my life.
In the beginning, as a new writer, the start was the hardest part. Actually sitting down and getting those words to flow. And not editing as I write. It was hard to give that up.
Once everything was going smoothly, the self-doubt would set in.
Now, when I finally have some experience and confidence in my writing, the hardest part is finding the time. I have a little boy now who keeps me preoccupied during the day, and I miss those late night writing sessions.
What’s your favorite aspect of the writing process? Living the lives of my characters and letting them lead the story. They sometimes surprise me. And, who just doesn’t like to imagine being them, our heroes?
If you could co-write a book with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? I never actually thought about it. I have some ongoing co-writing projects and it is a learning experience. It would be really hard to choose someone because I would most likely be intimidated by the ones I would choose, by their skill and would probably be mostly star-struck. I would prefer my favorite authors read my books than co-write with them. Maybe one author comes to mind strictly out of curiosity to see/learn their thought process and bringing their imagination to life: Hope Mirrless.
What inspired you to take on the dragon-and-princess theme? After all, it’s been done so many times before. What were you trying to accomplish with Dragon’s Treasure? I felt bad for the dragons. Why do they almost always have to be the bad guys? Why does the prince have to win the maiden? I wanted to read about the what if, so I wrote it. And also, a little secret, the maiden gets to save herself in the sequel. I wanted to give the dragon a chance at love and the maiden a chance to save herself.
If you could be any character in the Dragons Awaken books, which one would you be? Oh, that’s a tough one. Based on Dragon’s Treasure only, I want to say Olivia, but I put her through so much that I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes. Probably Theo or Damien, I just love those two and the love they share, so close to my own.
From Dragon’s Prize, I’d love to be Bast even if for a day.
If the Dragons Awaken books were made into a movie, who would you want to play each part? Well, I did think and dream about that like any other daydreaming author, and I did base my descriptions on some characters, so here is my cast: Olivia … Rose Byrne (some CGI to make her fit the age;) ) Kaden … well, a blue dragon drawn by artist Ben Wotten (if spoilers are allowed, Aidan Turner) Magnus … Josh Holloway (again, with a little bit of help from CGI, I really need to brush up on the younger actors) Charlie… Rachel Hurd-Wood Cassiel … Chiwetel Ejiofor Delilah… Amanda Seyfried or Elle Fanning Liltih… Michelle Pfeiffer Aaaand, I’m gonna stop there, or the list will get too long. I really haven’t thought much about who would play the other characters.
Do you have plans for more books in the Dragons Awaken series? Yes! Many plans! There’s Dragon’s Prize, that’s just been released. I plan on one more book to round up the trilogy, Dragons’ Queen, and then two spinoff books that continue the story with new, younger characters.
Where can people find you and your books online? You can find me many places! If you like to read blogs, book reviews, free short stories and be up to date with new releases, follow me on www.mayastarling.com
And you can find all versions of Dragon’s Treasure in its eBook form here: https://books.pronoun.com/dragons-treasure/ and paperback here: https://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Treasure-Dragon-Maya-Starling/dp/9535936603/
And Dragon’s Prize here: https://books.pronoun.com/dragons-prize/