Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Delight in Dragons? Adore Angels? Welcome Guest Author, Deborah Cooke!

Congratulations to Jess (selwyn_jp at hotmail dot com) for winning a copy of DARKFIRE KISS, and JenM (jen at delux dot com) for winning a copy of FALLEN!  Thanks to everyone who came out and left a comment!

Some of These Things Belong Together

By Deborah Cooke (also writing as Claire Delacroix)

When Terri and I agreed to swap blog posts today, just for fun, we also agreed to write about paranormal romance – since that’s what both of us are writing and publishing right now. I’ve written a lot of blog posts about both of my paranormal romance series so thought I’d write about assumptions.

A paranormal romance, first of all, is the story of the romance between a man and a woman, at least one of whom has mythical or magical powers. It begins as close as possible to their initial meeting and ends soon after they make a commitment to each other. The middle bit of the book involves their solving all of their various conflicts, the external ones that are often the reason they meet, and the internal ones which keep them personally from falling in love and/or making a commitment. This is all the familiar ground of romance – in a way, these are the elements that belong together in a romance novel of any subgenre or setting.

But a paranormal romance has the distinction of a parallel world. The protagonist with “something special” comes from another species or realm than we do. Whether that protagonist is a demon, an angel, a vampire, a werewolf, a were-dragon, or whatever, he or she must be part of a developed universe. And how each specific writer builds that alternate reality not only is what distinguishes the various author series from each other but is shaped by that author’s assumptions.

It’s shaped by the author’s ideas of what belongs together. What’s interesting is how different our assumptions are.

For example, my Dragonfire series (http://www.deborahcooke.com/) by Deborah Cooke features heroes who are dragon shape shifters – or were-dragons in proper fantasy lingo. There are some basic dragon qualities that come from my understanding of dragons as a species:
• they are long-lived, not immortal
• they are passionate
• they breathe fire
• they gather hoard, so have financial security
• they live in secured lairs
• where there are dragons, there must be dragon slayers. In the world of Dragonfire, the Slayers are not human – they are dragons who turned bad and want to eliminate not only the good dragons but humans too.
• where there are dragons, there is treasure. I decided that my dragons would believe that the earth itself was their treasure and their responsibility to defend.
From my own affection for medieval stories (and my conviction that dragons really came into their own in the Middle Ages) comes another suite of details:
• they breathe dragonsmoke as a boundary mark. Dragonsmoke is invisible to humans
• they coexisted openly with us until the Middle Ages, when we nearly hunted them to extinction (we were obsessed with “cures” that included dragon’s blood and dragon’s bone). Now they keep their powers secret from most of us. They are also scattered and fewer in number than was once the case.
• in dragon form, they looked like jeweled sculptures. Each has scales the color of a gemstone and those gemstones are edged in what looks like a precious metal. Ebony and pewter. Lapis lazuli and silver. Garnet and gold.

What else goes with dragons? Because these are romances, I had to think about the women who would partner with these guys.
• popular stories about dragons say that they have an affection for princesses, virgins and damsels in distress. I have to admit that I’ve relied mostly upon damsels in distress for the roles of my heroines – and that many of them have been quite certain they could handle their current situation alone, thank you very much. I like that these heroines aren’t inclined to faint or wait to be rescued.
• in the world of Dragonfire, the meeting of each dragon dude with the woman who can bear his son is marked by a firestorm. Sparks literally fly between them and their lust for each other multiplies until they conceive that son. As you might imagine, this is pretty inconvenient and requires some fast talking on the part of the dragon guy. Slayers can sense the firestorm and are drawn to it, so usually the dragon guy is also defending his destined mate while trying to seduce her.
• each of my dragon shifter heroes has an affinity with two elements. This comes from Chinese dragon lore, in which dragons are masters of individual elements – the water dragon, for example, controls rain and flooding. So, my guys each have an affinity with two elements and their mates have an affinity for the other two. Their union then brings all four elements together, and is greater of the sum of the parts.
• there are a lot of old stories about the significance of a dragon losing a scale. In the world of Dragonfire, a dragon dude loses a scale when he falls in love. It’s a physical manifestation of his emotional vulnerability. Only the mate can heal the hole in his armor, which is an idea I like a lot.

You can see how the world of Dragonfire was shaped by my assumptions about dragons and also my interest in medieval stories.

My other paranormal romance series is the Prometheus Project by Claire Delacroix. (http://www.delacroix.net/angels.html)

This series is set in a dystopian future society, which is post-nuclear but pre-Apocalyptic. I liked the idea of angels and their luminous beauty in contrast to a very gritty urban reality – and I liked the idea that they could literally bring the light into the lives of the humans condemned to live in that society. What were my assumptions about angels?
• Angels are other-worldly. I wanted my angels to have their feet on the ground – that meant they had to be fallen angels. I decided that my angels would be volunteers in the battle to save humanity from ourselves, and that they would sacrifice their wings in order to take flesh. FALLEN begins with Montgomery losing his wings.
• Angels sing. When the angelic host appears, often to collect the volunteer at the end of his mission, their arrival is heralded by singing and brilliant light. This light can blind humans.
• where there are angels, there should be demons. Since my angels are fallen angels, I decided that the demon of choice would be Lucifer, the most powerful of the fallen angels and the one who did not volunteer. Lucifer was cast out of heaven for his pride – in this series, he tempts each angel hero when everything seems to be going completely wrong.
• it is written in the Book of Enoch that angels chose to help men, once men were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Each of the fallen angels listed there taught humans a specific ability – I used this with my angels, like Baruch (in REBEL) sharing his ability to see God’s will in the stars.

Again, these are romances, so we needed a little extra on the question of love:
• it is also written that the fallen angels remained on earth because they were tempted by the daughters of men. I decided that my fallen angel heroes would each be tempted by a specific woman, that they would fall in love and decide to remain among us instead of returning to heaven once their assignment was completed.
• As beings of light or thought, angels would have no sensory experience. In taking flesh, a whole realm of sensory reality is revealed to them, one that they knew about intellectually but hadn’t experienced. This is startling to them – and gives them a character arc that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Perfect beings have nothing to learn. Perfect beings who forget what they know because they are overwhelmed have plenty to learn! I really liked the idea of physical experience being overwhelming to the fallen angels.

We see just how traumatic it is in Montgomery’s loss of his wings at the beginning of FALLEN, but later, he is focused on getting his job done and ignoring the distraction of the sensory world. Lilia ensures that he can’t quite ignore the pleasures of the flesh.

GUARDIAN’s Rafe, in contrast, revels in sensory experience. He is the party animal who can’t get enough – and who pretty much forgets his mission as a result. Delilia’s experience in its complete lack of joy and pleasure is probably the only thing that could really get to him.

REBEL’s Armand is disgusted with humans and our pursuit of pleasure. He can’t wait to get his job done and get back where he belongs – until he meets Theodora, who is just as unhappy with the world but determined to use her abilities to change it. Her conviction also changes Armand.

So, there we have two different paranormal romance series, with two different sets of assumptions shaping the fictional world.

What are your assumptions about dragons? About fallen angels? Share your thoughts and we’ll pick two winners from the comments – one for a copy of the latest Dragonfire novel, DARKFIRE KISS, (http://www.deborahcooke.com/dark.html) and one for a copy of the first book in the Prometheus Project, FALLEN (http://www.delacroix.net/fallen.html).


Sue Sattler said...

Dragons - Beautiful, protective, dangerous, sexy and the ultimate alpha.
Fallen Angels - Dark, conflicted, arrogant, sexy and dominate.
Both series sound wonderful.


Anonymous said...

I read a lot of the Clair Delecroix harlequins when I was a teenager and I loved them, hunted down every one I could find. Now I'm loving the Dragonfire series, when I have time to read.
It's been good reading more about how you see your writing.

Sharon said...

I *love the sound of your dragon books. The loss of the scale and needing the mate to heal them...:swoon: I have seen your covers, but hadn't really looked at them. Both your series are now on my TBR list. Thanks for sharing today :)

Kathy Meyers said...

Love your Dragonfire series and enjoyed this blog immensely. Looking forward to reading more of your work. Thank you.

Kathy Meyers

Amy Valentini said...

I've never actually considered dragons as a subject of paranormal romance before but after reading this I am definitely onboard and eager to catch up. : )
As for angels, I love the idea of fallen angels who fall in love with mortals and read as many as I can get my hands on. Deborah, I'm definitely going to add your dragon series to my TBR list. : )
Love the covers btw.

SandyG265 said...

I grew up reading Ann McAffrey's Pern series so I've got two views of Dragons. The dragon working as a partner with men and, the classic dragon which breathes fire and hoards treasure.

sgiden at verizon.net

Terri Garey said...

Thanks for joining us in the Underground today, Deb! I can't wait to see who wins the giveaways!

Lori said...

I've always had a hard time choosing a paranormal romance series. There is such a wide range of stories from the light and fun ones to the dark and erotic ones. Most of the covers look dark to me and hence I haven't picked up too many. I'm thankful for your blog post. I'll have to put these two series on my list to check out.

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Really there are not too many were dragon books (ONLY) out there. Being born in the year of the Fire Dragon (Love love lov saying that) I am always fascinated by dragons, always enjoying seeing each author's take on them.

Deborah Cooke said...

Thanks everyone for the warm welcome! And thanks Terri for hosting me. :-)

theboardbitch - it's always fun to find people who read my Harlequins. Thanks for sticking with me. Just FYI, Harlequin has started to republish them in digital editions - MY LADY'S CHAMPION, ENCHANTED and MY LADY'S DESIRE came out this past summer. More on the way, I suspect.

Sharon - I like the scale detail too. It wasn't in the original plan, but evolved in the writing of the first Dragonfire book so I went with it.

Thanks Kathy for reading my dragons!

Amy - It seems that a lot of people don't think of dragons as romantic heroes. I think they're classic - like Greek shipping tycoons. Mysterious, rich, powerful - what's not to love about that? Hope you enjoy my books.

SandyG - my love of dragons came out of fantasy too. I thought Smaug got a rough rap for such a hunky smart guy - which got me thinking.

Thanks Lori - I hope you enjoy the books. There are so many books published every month that it's hard to choose, isn't it? I need to write faster and read faster.

Raonaid - I like that we agree. The world needs more dragon shifter romances. I think I should get back to work now.


Johanna R Jochum said...

I have not read too many dragon books yet but the couple books I have read I really enjoyed. They were so different from the usually PNR norm. I love fallen Angel stories. Very sexy about someone good gone a bit bad. LOL! Thanks for sharing with us today!


ilona said...

One assumption I have had since spending time in the East as a child is that Dragons are VERY lucky. Personally I think I would be the lucky one to meet one of your dragons for real :D

CrystalGB said...

Hi Deborah. I love your dragon series. Your fallen angel series sounds great. Thank you for the giveaway.
Some assumptions about dragons are that they have a horde of treasures and that they are vicious.
An assumption about fallen angels is that tbey are bad.

Casey H said...

I love love love dragons! I don't care if they're "evil" creatures, who eat virgins or if they're sexy were-dragons who love their women for the rest of their lives. Sigh. I did read Kiss of Fire and absolutely lovd it!


Vivien said...

I do think dragons have been underrated. They just haven't really been thoroughly tackled in YA. I'm always up for a new dragon book. I mean, who doesn't love dragons?
As for fallen angels....I think they have been so frequently, it's hard to not come across one in YA. I haven't turned away from one yet, even after the disappointing reads. I just love the mythology that can be used with this story. While I haven't been a huge fan of fallen angels in the past, I'll continue to read them. I'll love one eventually :)

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Scorpio1974 said...

I've always been fascinated with dragons and angels/fallen angels and of course vampires and wear-animals too. I love a lot of the paranormal/supernatural type stories. =) They're just so much more intriguing and exciting. =)

Valerie Long (Scorpio1974 on GFC)

Anonymous said...

for some reason, i think , sense of humor with dragons.


Deborah Cooke said...

Vivien - thanks for the opening! I didn't talk about my YA dragons because my post was getting loooooooong, but now I'll tell you. I have a spin-off dragon shifter stories called The Dragon Diaries, featuring the coming-of-age of the one female dragon shifter in my dragon world. She's called the Wyvern and is supposed to have special powers - but Zoë hasn't got hers and doesn't know where to look. FLYING BLIND came out in June and book #2, WINGING IT, will be out in December - lookee here if you like YA dragon shifters:

It's so fun that you're all so into paranormal romance, angels and dragons, mmm hmm. I'm in good company here!


Anonymous said...

I am Def putting both series on my TBR list. I love Dragons and Fallen Angels. They both sound very good.


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Na said...

I have never considered dragons as being a character in a story. I always considered them mythical beats in children's tales. I don't know much about their culture, their traditions and personality but I am intrigued now. I see fallen angels are ideal paranormal creatures and always redeemable. However, I don't see them with the wings. I am always open to changing my assumptions, though.

Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com

Sheree said...

To me, it's a toss-up between the European wyrms with their treasure hoards and the Asian flying dragons who are known for wisdom, good luck, and bringer of rain.

ironss [at] gmail [dot] com

Chelsea B. said...

I don't have many assumptions, becuase I have read/watched so many portrayals-- and they are all different! :-) But that's a good thing, because you are always suprised :-)
Both of your series' sound fantastic!


alainala said...

i love her writings as deborah cooke..have only read the fallen angels series as delacroix though..

the main assumption about dragons is the horde.. they gotta have the horde..

thanks for the contest!

Barbara E. said...

My assumptions of dragons are that they are powerful, definitely passionate, breathe fire and can fly. I love dragon-shifter stories, and there aren't enough of them out there.
Fallen angels - I think they're powerful warriors and very conflicted. I haven't read a whole lot of angel stories, but I've enjoyed the ones I have read.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Barbara said...

My Dragon Assumptions:)
-Large in stature (tall, broad)
-hair reflects colour of scales
-scale colour indicates affinity
-scale colour also indicates type of magic they specialize in
-there are only male dragons no female
-dragons mate for life
-different dragon sects ie warrior, academic, artist etc
-Dragons must live close to the earth

umm...thats all my assumptions to date:)

Looking forward to reading your books!


Jess said...

How have I not heard about your Dragonfire series? It sounds AWESOME. I will have to add these books to my wishlist. I love dragons (in fact the team I follow in the NRL are the Dragons) and really enjoyed reading about them in Melanie Rawn's sunrunner books.

I've always assumed dragons could breathe fire, fly and speak telepathically. Much like Saphira in the Eragon books.

I love the idea that your were-dragons hoard and live in lairs, many celebrities live up to that claim, I wonder if any of them might be were-dragons! Also, the idea that there is a firestorm when a dragon meets his mate would make for interesting tension in your books.

Are all your dragons male? Are there any females? Would they lay eggs?

I really have to get my hands on these books!! :D

selwyn_jp at hotmail dot com

JenM said...

I love dragons, so I really need to start this series. My assumptions are just that they fly, breathe fire, have shiny scales, and are acquisitive. I'm always happy to go wherever the author takes me in their worldbuilding.

As for angels - I don't tend to read books with them, but these sounded pretty interesting. I like the idea that they've chosen to sacrifice their wings.
jen at delux dot com

Yordanka S said...

I love dragons - they are interesting, mythic... And Deborah's books about dragons are downright amazing!


Helen Lowe said...

Fascinating post and insight into your worlds: thank you, Deborah

Deborah Cooke said...

Hi Jess -

My dragon shifters are all male in Dragonfire, except that there's one female dragon shifter at any given time, called the Wyvern. My spinoff YA series is about the new Wyvern coming into her powers. The first book in that series is FLYING BLIND, and it came out in June. WINGING IT (#2) comes out in December. You can read more about that series here:

And no eggs. Sorry! My dragon shifters are indistinguishable from humans until puberty, which is when they get their powers.

Thanks everyone for all the kind words!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I think I've been more into the dragon shifters than fallen angels. I just find them so interesting and the worlds the authors come up with are so fun!

PS... I'm glad about the egg thing... LOL

Cate said...

Thanks for the giveaway! My assumption of dragons are powerful, and sexy hot. My assumptions of angels are beautiful and conflicted.

Deborah Cooke said...

Hi everyone! I've picked two winners, so JenM and Jess, please check your email!

Thanks again for the fun chat this week.