Beloved bantlings and bookwyrms,
Daisy the Dragon here! As I’m sure you’ve heard, acclaimed author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi will be coming to Bookmarks on December 4 for a festive celebration of his new picture book, The Broken Ornament! The book is as festive as it is fantastical.
But even before I read this latest addition to Mr. DiTerlizzi’s oeuvre, I was a great fan of his writing and illustrations in The Spiderwick Chronicles and Kenny and the Dragon. Those books show a great authorial sensitivity towards mythological characters. Kenny and the Dragon is a personal favorite of mine. Seldom has a human author rendered a dragonian character so well. For though Mr. DiTerlizzi captures the certain scaly uniqueness of our species, he avoids the temptation to essentialize or caricature us as so many authors have. The gentle dragon of the title is a lover of literature, a devoted friend, and if he sometimes lets his excitement get the better of him…well, the scorch marks will come out of the carpet eventually, won’t they?
Kenny and the Dragon captures the dragonian spirit with such accuracy partly because its enormous eponymous fire-breather is based on a real beast. (I say “partly” because I don’t want to take credit away from Mr. DiTerlizzi’s keen imagination. Though I do not believe that basing characters on real creatures is anything to look down on–I myself based the character of the Earl of Manifold in The Queens of Dragoria on my Aunt Delilah.)
Yes, that’s right–Grahame the dragon is a very real reptile, and a rather distinguished one at that. He’s also distantly related to yours truly. You see, my great-granduncle-in-law Desmond married Goncourt, his third stepcousin once removed and twice restored. So I was able to pull family strings and get him on the phone for an interview.
You can find the transcript of my conversation below.
Here Follows the Transcript of Daisy’s Interview with Grahame the Dragon, Her Great-Granduncle-in-Law’s Fiance’s Third Stepcousin Twice Removed and Once Restored
DD: How delightful to talk to you, Mr. Grahame the Dragon, my great-granduncle-in-law’s fiance’s third stepcousin!*
GD: Likewise, Daisy the Dragon, Guardian of Bookmarks Bookstore!
DD: I would love to hear about your experience collaborating with acclaimed author Tony DiTerlizzi, who will be visiting Bookmarks this December.
GD: What can I say? It was an absolute delight! I was suspicious at first, you know, because these author sorts are always wanting to make dragons into these dark brooding types who wait in our lairs for wandering knights and then do battle to the death…you know the sort of thing.
DD: All too well, I’m afraid.
GD: Quite so. But really, we’re peace-loving creatures who only live in caves because they’re warm and comfy. And our fire breathing isn’t meant to intimidate anyone! It evolved solely for the purpose of making perfect creme brulee!
DD: I have always preferred to crepes suzette myself.
GD: Over creme brulee?
A slightly awkward silence here ensued.
GD: Well, culinary preferences aside, there is more that unites our dragon clans than separates them, and by that I mean the Three Excellences. I’m sure you learned those in school?
DD: What dragon hasn’t? Etiquette, Appetite, and Appearance!
GD: Precisely. Dragons excel in all three, though I know a few who incline more towards the latter two than the first…
DD: But returning to the subject of your collaboration–
GD: Oh, I beg your pardon! My mind does wander so sometimes. As I was saying, I had some apprehensions about a fantasy njovelist coming and rooting around in my cavern. But Mr. DiTerlizzi was not at all the rude or invasive sort. He is really one of the finest examples of his species.
DD: High praise!
GD: But well-deserved. You see, he did not merely ask me about my grooming habits, my literary and gastronomical inclinations, my living arrangement, my genealogy, and my opinions on metaphysical philosophy (in fact, he didn’t ask about those things at all, but I told him more than he wanted to know). No, the first thing he asked me was what I wanted human readers to know about dragons.
–Well, I had to sit and think about that one for a good long minute, but then I told him something like what I’ve just told you, and he took lots of notes, and when it came to writing, he stayed in touch and asked my advice on this and that and whether I thought his representation of dragon characters was respectful and accurate and so on. He even offered to include me in the book’s acknowledgments as a consultant, but I told him that I didn’t think I could take such celebrity. I was sure the book would be an astounding success, you see.
DD: As it was!
GD: Quite so.
DD: I’m delighted to hear that the collaboration was such a positive experience for you both. And I’m even more excited than ever to be hosting Mr. DiTerlizzi in a couple of weeks! But I should also mention that you are a very talented writer in your own right.
GD: You flatter me!
DD: So my question is, what are the chances that we could get Grahame the Dragon himself to come to Bookmarks someday?
GD: Oh, you know…I never quite know what to say when I’m in front of a crowd. Author talks are never really my forte. I much prefer to stay behind the scenes and devote my time to writing. Besides, my work tends to be rather esoteric. I doubt it would appeal to a wide audience, especially of humans.
DD (audibly disappointed): Oh…
GD: But if I am ever finished with my current project, which is a historical analysis of rabbit-dragon relations in quasi-feudal societies, I will certainly give you a call. Perhaps you can sell some of my signed first editions. I hope to make tie-in pins for anyone who buys a copy!
DD: That would be wonderful!
GD: Well, I had better get back to making dessert. I’m going to dinner at a friend’s house, and he and his parents love my cooking.
DD: Creme brulee, I assume?
GD: What else?
*The translation is unwieldy, but in Standard Dragonian this entire phrase is rendered with a single snort.