Welcome, Jessie! I found your short story, The Dragon Keeper, about the plot to exterminate all dragons in a kingdom, fascinating.
All authors have their own reasons for writing a book. What are yours?
I come up with stories whether I write them and share them or not. I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl. Since the stories are in me, and I love the process of creating them, why not write and publish them? As a reader, I know how much I appreciate a good story, so I’m happy to contribute for other people to enjoy.
What would you like readers to take away from your story? Does it contain a message?
The Dragon Keeper is not what I would consider a ‘message story,’ in that I never set out to write it with a moral. I wanted to write a fun and plausible fantasy tale with unique characters, and readers can enjoy it on that level.
That being said, I think it’s a celebration of doing the right thing even at great personal cost, and in this way it’s empowering. I’m a tremendous believer in the importance of doing the right thing and pursuing truth, no matter what the consequences are, and those sentiments definitely influenced this story.
Where did you find your inspiration for the story? Was it a person, a current event, something you witnessed, or something else?
Most of my stories start with a “What if?” In this case, I wondered how humans would interact with dragons if they actually existed. How would we coexist? Would people even be willing to coexist with dragons? If we couldn’t control dragons, could we still find a way to benefit from them?
Answering these questions gave me the basics of my world. I tried to ground the fantasy elements in realism, because I wanted the story and its universe to be relatable. I wanted readers to think, This makes sense. If dragons existed, people would do that.
From there, I started wondering what kind of man would devote his life to working with dragons. How would he interact with people? What would he need in a relationship, and what would he have to offer a partner?
Did you face any obstacles or challenges while writing the story and if so, what were they?
I had to learn the value of humility in accepting editor’s feedback. It’s a bit of a blow to the ego of a romance writer when your manuscript comes back and the editor didn’t like an entire sex scene! That being said, the second version of this particular sex scene is truly much better than the first. I had wanted to make a statement about sex scenes, to put out something which said, “Look, sex doesn’t have to involve any penetration, mutual masturbation can be hot,” and while I stand by that idea, it didn’t translate very well in the context of this particular story.
You can read part of the revised scene in the excerpt below and see for yourself how it turned out instead.
How much emphasis do you put on supporting characters to move the plot of your stories along? Have any of your supporting characters ever gotten their own story?
The shorter a story is, the less important supporting characters are to me. Because The Dragon Keeper is a short work, the supporting characters play a minimal role. None of my supporting characters have gotten their own story yet, but it might happen for one of my current works in progress.
What is your writing process? Are you a patnser or a plotter, or a little of both?
I am a complete pantser! If I had to have an entire story plotted out before I started writing, I’d never finish a single manuscript. I don’t necessarily write in order, either. For The Dragon Keeper, I wrote the epilogue when I was about halfway through the main story, which is standard for my process.
My writing tends to be based around the characters, and as I develop a sense of who my main characters are, the plot usually falls into place. The Dragon Keeper is, if I may invent a word, my pantserest story yet. When I started, I pulled up a new document on my computer and decided I wanted to write a story with dragons. I didn’t have the vaguest idea what the plot would turn out to be until the first chapter was written.
What are your three favorite books by other authors and why? You don’t have to limit this to three. (I know I can’t.)
In terms of M/M romance, my favorites are N.R. Walker’s Imago series and Broken by Nicola Haken. I enjoy historical fiction, and in that genre Edward Rutherfurd’s London and Sarem are at the top of my list. I’ll stop there, or we’ll be here for ages!
What’s next on your literary horizon?
I’m always juggling multiple works in progress. I have a complete inability to write one story at a time, which can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when I have writer’s block for one story but can work on another, and a curse when I realize just how long I’ve been working on a story that still isn’t finished.
Right now I’m writing a contemporary romance dealing with the fallout of religious abuse, and on a completely different note, a science fiction romance where some humans have been genetically engineered to possess paranormal abilities. I like to read and write different subgenres of romance, as you can tell.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to appreciate a good man…
When Aldric first meets Lito, he considers the man a nuisance. As a dragon keeper for the kingdom of Corancia, he has more important tasks than answering an artist’s numerous questions about dragons.
Lito travelled to Corancia so he could observe dragons firsthand for his paintings, and he’s full of questions about the magnificent creatures. His questions aren’t merely for his art, however, they arise from his deep love of dragons. When he overhears a plot by his own kingdom to eliminate the animals, he has to choose between his loyalty and his beloved dragons.
Working to prevent the extermination of dragons throws Aldric and Lito together. Lust is in the air, and if they’re lucky, they could end up with a happily ever after.
Once the artist set down his pen, Aldric ventured to ask, “Does it take many years of training to be an artist?”
“To be a good one, yes. Particularly when it comes to the details of preparing materials and paints. However, at the risk of being outrageously bold, after the way you were looking at me I’ll be more than a touch disappointed if you are thinking only of my craft.”
It was very bold indeed, but Aldric found he liked that. “Not only, no.” He glanced down at Lito’s hands. “Your hands are nimble, and you have such control.”
Lito smiled. “Perhaps you’re wondering what else I can do with them?”
Aldric felt himself blush. “You are outrageously bold.”
“And you need not hold yourself back so much. Certainly not after I established that you aren’t the only one interested. Is everyone in the north so restrained?”
“No. I spend more time with dragons than with people.”
“We ought to do something about that,” said Lito. He reached out, placing one hand on the side of Aldric’s face. “I see no reason you can’t enjoy human company when your workday is completed.”
Aldric did not enjoy the company of just any human. Lito’s was among those he did enjoy. “I don’t know the custom for seducing a houseguest,” he confessed. “Am I supposed to offer you supper first, or take you to bed straightaway?”
Lito laughed. “I believe I’m the one seducing you. In either case, bed, please.”
Aldric took Lito to his bedroom, glad that his bedding was recently returned from the laundress. It would not do to appear slovenly.
Not that Lito paid heed to the room, as his attention was reserved for Aldric. Specifically, removing Aldric’s clothing. He made short work of it all, followed quickly by his own. Naked, they admired each other.
Aldric was not one to admire for very long when he could be touching. He ran his hand down Lito’s neck and traced the muscles on the artist’s chest, enjoying not just the feel of muscle but the way Lito reacted with quickened breath and shivering skin.
He sat on his bed and pulled Lito down so the other man was straddling his lap. This was an excellent position, which allowed for roaming hands and the thrill of their cocks bumping together. Lito also took this as time for kissing. Aldric was not always fond of the activity, but he found with Lito he quite liked it. All the more so when Lito arranged himself so their chests were together and his hands traced a roving pattern on Aldric’s back at the same time his tongue explored Aldric’s mouth.
It had been some time since Aldric last enjoyed the company of another man, and he forcibly quelled his impatience. He found it was always better to take one’s time in matters of sexual pleasure, so he focused on individual sensations: the feel of Lito’s weight on his lap, the sound of their kisses and Lito’s barely audible whimpers, the heady scent of aroused men, and the shocks of pleasure when their cocks touched.
Lito dragged his fingernails along Aldric’s spine and pulled his mouth away. “You see, it pays handsomely to be outrageously bold.”
Such was not Aldric’s style, but he appreciated it in Lito. “Indeed, it does.” Then he put his mouth to work pressing kisses along his lover’s neck, which earned him a series of delightful moans. He enjoyed a vocal lover. Each noise served as a reward for his efforts and told him what his partner especially liked.
He leaned to lie flat on his back, taking Lito down with him. The weight of another man’s body atop his own excited him, as did Lito’s next enthusiastic round of kissing and rubbing.
When the artist next stopped kissing he said, “I do believe I spoke of what else I can do with my hands. I ought to demonstrate.”
“By all means.”
His fingers were as nimble as earlier, only now the quick motions danced around Aldric’s sac. “You are very talented,” said Aldric.
“I always endeavor for the best possible results.”
How fortunate for Aldric. He gasped as Lito took his cock in one hand while the other continued its tantalizing massage of his balls.
“It’s a benefit to bedding an artist.” Lito smiled, clearly pleased with Aldric’s reaction to his ministrations. “Well-trained hands combined with ceaseless striving for perfection.”
If one considered an orgasm perfection, Aldric was fast approaching it until Lito suddenly stopped and said, “I want to undo you, Aldric.”
He was about to remark that letting go of his cock was not a good way to achieve that goal, when Lito did something remarkable. He lowered himself down Aldric’s body and took Aldric’s cock in his mouth.
The sensation was so overwhelmingly wonderful that it took Aldric a moment to ask, “What are you doing?”
Lito paused, which was a great loss and made Aldric regret his question. “You don’t mean to tell me you’ve never done this?”
“I’ve never heard of taking a cock in my mouth.”
The artist’s eyes widened in surprise. “How dreadful. I must show you what you’ve been missing.”
Aldric decided he’d been missing a great deal.
Evernight Publishing: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/the-dragon-keeper-by-jessie-pinkham/
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