Interview with Gretchen Steen, Author of Legend of Dragamere
This interview is being included in the 2013 Women in Horror Interview Series. Every February, Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. You can find out more about WiHM here:
Born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1952, Gretchen Steen is literally a dragon herself. Born in a ‘Year of the Dragon’ according to the Chinese calendar, her interest spread to dragons from all areas of the world. The myths, legends and persona surrounding these creatures led to a deeper fascination with the ‘beast’.
Ms. Steen’s creative mind emerged unexpectedly as a young adult, but the urge to express it in writing didn’t come to fruition until many years later. Her family, as well as her many friends and acquaintances, know her as the “DragonLady”, a title she deems appropriate.
Since the inception of Ms. Steen’s original ideas in 2001, the amazing adventures of the “Dragonchild”, the subsequent journey to solve “The Mystery of Dragon Hall” and the revealing “Drágön Blood” produced an intricately detailed, fantasy journey.
In 2012, these stories were rewritten and condensed into two stories, “Legend of Dragamere” and the upcoming “Blood of Dragamere”.
Her writing was delayed but never forgotten during the devastation and traumatic aftermath of Hurricane’s Ivan and Dennis, which targeted Pensacola in 2004 and 2005.
Ms. Steen is the proud mother of two wonderful children, Justin and Chelsea and grandmother of Jack Daniel and
Chelsey always knew she was different. After reading an obscure fantasy novel, she sensed a connection. Desperately seeking answers, she flies to England and befriends a handsome stranger, Damien. They meet with the enigmatic Malcolm, who mysteriously reveals their joint heritage. The facts are unbelievable; his claim … their bloodline.
In order for them to survive, they must go to the infamous castle, Dragamere, and break a thousand year-old curse. They are spurred on by a malevolent entity that has transcended time. The cursed lovers’ archenemy proves to be a defiant foe and their journey becomes treacherous.
The curse is broken and so is the veil of time. Chelsey and Damien find themselves in the past, united with the condemned lovers. Together, they must face their evil nemesis and destroy him. Will they ever return to their own time and at what cost?
Q. In “Legend of Dragamere” your character Chelsey feels a connection to an ancient fantasy she reads, itself called “Dragonchild”. Thus the story she reads begins to pull her further into a mystical world of dragons. Do you think that the device you use with having your heroine enter her world through a book, will help draw your reader into your own story and create a feeling of identification with your young protagonist?
A. Possibly. In my original stories, “Legend of Dragamere” was book two of three. It contained a prologue that connected the conclusion of “Dragonchild” (yes, the book referenced) to the next book, “The Mystery of Dragon Hall”. When I decided to rewrite everything, I decided to start the story with book two. The prologue, at that point, didn’t fit, but I used specific reference to the antagonist in “Dragonchild” as a catalyst to begin the story and spur Chelsey toward her destiny.
Q. This entry into a fantasy world – making a connection and going as Alice does in Wonderland, further down the rabbit hole – or as the Pevensie children in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia go, through the wardrobe, is a familiar way into the world of whimsy in classic young adult fiction. Do you think of “Legend of Dragamere” as young adult fiction?
A. It could be classified as young adult fiction. The originals had a few very steamy scenes, but in the rewrite, I toned it down a bit. “Legend of Dragamere” still contains scenes that ‘young’ readers might be uncomfortable with, but nothing is explicit. I was tempted to remove the ‘questionable scenes’ altogether, but they serve a purpose in the storyline. In the current form, it is definitely appropriate for the young adult reader.
Q. Do you think of it as more similar to modern traditions in young adult fiction, or that of the previous eras that defined the genre?
A. I can’t honestly categorize it as either modern or classic. I haven’t read enough to know the ‘defined genre guidelines’.
Q. How is a Dragonchild of Dragamere different than all of the dragons of legends before… and in what ways, if any are Giselle, Chelsey and Damien in your stories rooted in known legend?
A. I don’t know of any legends that are similar. Chelsey and Damien, my ‘dragonchildren’, have dragonblood flowing in their veins a millennium after the union of a man/dragon changeling, Lord Naguum and witch, Catreena (Giselle’s parents in the original “Dragonchild”). The curse Chelsey and Damien need to break is leveled upon them by Moorlange. Sorry, I might be confusing you, but the story is all tied together with the sequel, “Blood of Dragamere”. After all, fantasy is a conjured adventure. Nothing has to have basis in anything as long as it’s believable.
Q. You create your own system of myths and legends for the books, “Legend of Dragamere” and “Blood of Dragamere”. Was there anything particularly challenging about creating your own mythology? Was it fun?
A. That’s what I love about writing fantasy. As I said in the last question, anything is possible and if it’s written well, the question of ‘what if’ arises. I did intersperse reality with the fantastic, to make the story somewhat more relatable. I had a grand time creating the story. I thought I was finished with book one, “Dragonchild”, but the story wasn’t finished ‘in my head’. The years that followed, the story flowed and the two subsequent volumes, “The Mystery of Dragon Hall” and “Dragon Blood” were written. I began editing, rewriting and rearranging the story about a year ago. “Legend of Dragamere” (the old book two) is now the beginning of the story and the upcoming sequel, “Blood of Dragamere” is the sequel/prequel of the combined “Dragonchild” and “Dragon Blood”. I won’t tell you how I plan to collate the two stories, but it’s being done right now.
Q. Currently, there are two books journeying into your fantasy world of Dragamere. Can we expect more in the future?
A. No, the dragon fantasy ends with “Blood of Dragamere”. My next venture is an attempt to write an apocalyptic thriller based on conspiracy theory called, “What Is To Come?” The cover and short synopsis are on my website www.gretchensteen.com under the ‘Books’ tab. It’s still a work-in-progress, but next on the list after the revisions of “Blood of Dragamere” are completed.
Q. Is Chelsey named for your daughter Chelsea? If so, how does she feel about being immortalized in literature?
A. No, it’s just a coincidence. My daughter has never read my work. When I reworked “Legend of Dragamere” I changed the M/C Courtney to Chelsey. All the names were changed in the rewrite, so it is technically a ‘new story’.
Q As you may know, “Alice in Wonderland” was written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll as an entertainment for the Liddell children, and the middle child was named Alice. Did you read these stories to Chelsea when she was younger?
A. No, this whole story began as therapy during a crumbling marriage. The fantastic adventure was my ‘exit from the real world’. I could bury myself in what I loved, dragons, fantasy, romance and adventure. I was constantly told “You’re not good enough to write anything”…and I proved them wrong. It’s been years since I began the first story and to this day, none of my family has delved into my ‘fantasy world’.
Q. Is there anything you’d like our readers to know that we haven’t covered yet?
A. Not really, but I must convey something from my father, who didn’t live to see my writing. He said to me years ago, “Give yourself a chance, don’t say you can’t do something until you try; make the attempt…and then you just might surprise yourself with what you’re capable of.” To this day I hear him…and press forward. To all the unknown writers, never give up!
Where To Find Her Online:
Website: “The DragonLady” Gretchen Steen Fantasy Author http://www.gretchensteen.com/index.html